Is your Social Media Social?

Facebook, Twitter, Four Square, and Pinterest are packed with industry players spanning the retail grocery spectrum. How are these small/mid-size companies keeping up with the giants in this ever-changing environment?  It’s simple…


Social media is fundamentally social.  All too often we see grocers with bare Facebook pages and inactive Twitter feeds. This is an arguably worse scenario than having no social media profile at all. It’s one thing to be ignorant of the need to embrace new technologies; it’s a whole different thing to give it a half hearted attempt and fall flat on your face in a public setting like the internet. There are many free resources on the web concerning business social media and how to use it. Do your research.

Many grocers have grown out of this Facebook-and-Twitter-are-a-waste-of-time phase. Some are even realizing social media isn’t completely immeasurable. How is this, you ask? Record the dates specific products or foods are trending on your social media sites and compare that to your inventory data. When you notice the two trends coinciding on similar date ranges, you have a measurable piece of proof for that one old-fashioned marketing exec who keeps telling you you’re wasting your time.

The next focus is combining the “social” with the media. You can post your weekly sales, specials, and recipes all day, but they are relatively useless without customer interaction. Progressive Grocer nailed it in this article – in the time you can facilitate 10 interactions face-to-face in your store, you could get 100 direct responses to a single question online. Yes, the in-store interaction is valuable; but when you want some customer insight, one Facebook post can go much further.

You can immediately supply insight on inventory forecasts for your purchasers and consumer trends for your marketing department.  You have the ability to give your operations team a heads up on what product inventory may turn sooner than usual. Even better in the long run – you are offering an environment for your customers to engage in conversation with yourself and other like-minded consumers. That’s priceless.

Here are a few tips for making your social media presence more social:

Ask your followers what their favorite meals/recipes/cooking ingredients/etc. are.
You open the window to insight on what products they’re willing to purchase. More importantly, your customers can see others who may have similar tastes as him or herself – this promotes a feeling of cohesiveness by knowing others like yourself shop at the same place. A community built around your brand is invaluable.

Don’t respond to their comments or questions with pre-manufactured, generic responses.
This also applies to your web forms, call centers, and automatic email programs. Not many people enjoy speaking to machines. Genuineness and honesty can go a long way.

Don’t delete or ignore negative posts/comments.
If someone had a bad experience with your store, respond constructively. Assure them their complaint will be listened to and addressed by the right department. This will display your brand’s capacity for listening and customer satisfaction.

Recommend nutritious pairing options to foods mentioned.
Ingles dietitian, Leah McGrath, is one of the best in the field. This boosts your brand image by demonstrating consideration for your customers’ health. It also fosters continuing conversation rather than ending with their comment.

Don’t post the same content across multiple channels.
That’s how you lose followers. People don’t want to see you post the same exact thing on two different social media sites. The platforms are different and require different techniques to be successful.

There are over 901 million active Facebook users and more than 340 million tweets per day. The cost to maintain a profile on both sites is minuscule compared to the effect they can have on your brand and customer base. Avoid missing out on good consumer relationships.

Or you could go the other way and continue to ignore the power of social media.  You could always try to pull your customers back with a classified ad on Craigslist – “Missed Connections: Saw you in the produce isle.”

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