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    Editor’s Note:

    We’ve all heard about the Ashton Kutcher/CNN Twitter contest to see who could recruit the most followers, but I’m sure you’d be surprised to learn that ranking among those with the most followers is a grocer: Whole Foods Market.

    We’ve all heard about the Ashton Kutcher/CNN Twitter contest to see who could recruit the most followers, but I’m sure you’d be surprised to learn that ranking among those with the most followers is a grocer: Whole Foods Market. While it doesn’t have Kutcher’s 2 million-plus followers, its almost 820,900 Twitter devotees put it far, far ahead of any other grocer on Twitter.

    The natural and organic foods retailer is a shining example of how to leverage the Web to develop a community of shoppers and increase buzz about your operation.

    What many don’t realize is that Twitter can also be used as a free mobile marketing platform. All you have to do is have your followers set up their mobile devices to receive your tweets, and every promotion you tweet will be sent to their phones.

    This is just one of the many ways in which social media is changing the way consumer communication is conducted, and in this month’s newsletter, you’ll find several more.

    And if you’d like to follow Progressive Grocer, you’ll find our Twitter profile here: http://www.twitter.com/pgrocer

    As an increasing number of grocers are posting their promotions on Twitter, technology companies are developing applications to aggregate and organize the information from these tweets — and incorporating consumer feedback — so that people can comparison shop.

    One such company, Appozite, developed CheapTweet, an application that scans Twitter for the best deals, coupons and sales that people or retailers are tweeting about. On the CheapTweet Web site (www.cheaptweet.com), users can rate deals by saying, “It’s Cheap” (it’s a good deal) or “It’s Lame” (it’s not a good deal). Deals move to the Cheapest Tweets section if they get enough votes.

    Grocers don’t have to do anything to get their deals on CheapTweet other than tweeting regular promotions in a relevant and engaging way. CheapTweet automatically finds these tweets and adds them to the site. If these Tweets are about deals that are valuable to followers, it’s likely to get listed on CheapTweet.

    CheapTweet offers the following tips on writing Tweets:

    • Be specific: Include specific details about deals such as the sale price, percentage price reductions or any other special offers such as free shipping. If the deal has an expiration, it’s important to indicate it.

    • Provide useful links: Make sure links work and, when possible, link directly to the deal and not a third-party coupon site. Retailers tweeting about a specific product that’s on sale in a store should link to that product page, so users don’t have to wade through several pages to find it.

    • Don’t spam: Repeatedly sending the same tweet over and over will actually hurt a retailer’s chances of getting deals on the Cheapest Tweets pages.

    • Use the #cheaptweet hashtag in all tweets. CheapTweet supports the #cheaptweet hashtag. While it’s not required, it ensures that CheapTweet finds it. (Example: dealguy: Man, I just got a great deal on a Samsung 46" HDTV at http://tinyurl.com/abc123 - it was only $999 #cheaptweet)

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