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    The Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media for Supermarkets

    'Shoppers are talking; grocers need to join the conversation'

    By John Karolefski

    A study by the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council of North America found that many shoppers are not impressed with their grocer’s social media efforts. They compare supermarket pages on Facebook to online circulars replete with coupons and other special offers.

    I recently spoke with several experts who follow the social media efforts of supermarket retailers. What do they recommend? Much of their advice, and some of my own, is summarized below. 

    Here are the Don’ts:

    Don’t Post Only Simple Content: The challenge for grocers is to make their websites and Facebook pages engaging. Don’t just duplicate the simple efforts of other supermarkets. Anybody can post the online circular, coupons and other special offers. Go beyond the basics to transform these social media destinations into a place for dialogue and food content. 

    Don’t Ignore Complaints: Not every customer is pleased with the shopping experience. Their gripe could be with the size of assortments, the customer service, the ambiance, and so on. If the website contains an area for shopper feedback – and it should – be sure to address the complaints. Explain the rationale for decisions that affect shoppers. But don’t monitor the complaints and ignore them. Doing so tells shoppers that the store doesn’t care about them.  

    Don’t Forget about Insights: Shopper feedback on social media is the best kind of Big Data that a grocer can accumulate. But the danger is to be data-rich and insight-poor. When analyzed, shopper feedback provides critical insights into the thinking of customers. Who doesn’t want to know what their customers think? The next step is to take action, be it corrective action or action to start a new program.  

    Here are the Do’s:

    Focus on Food: There are many websites and forums that spotlight food, but a grocer’s website and Facebook page should be the most important one. After all, consumers buy their food in the grocery store. It only make sense to be a go-to source for meal recipes, food and health advice, cooking tips, food allergy alerts, and so on.  

    Develop a Dialogue: Grocers need to begin a dialogue with their shoppers. Ask for their opinion about the in-store experience. How can it be improved? Suggest shopping strategies and comment on their suggestions. This back-and-forth conversation engages shoppers. 

    Create a Community: One of the goals of social media is creating a community of shoppers who feel a kinship with the group and the grocery store. Build a relationship with customers. Solicit product reviews, especially for new store brands.

    Shoppers are talking on social media. Grocers need to join the conversation.


    By John Karolefski
    • About John Karolefski John Karolefski is a veteran business journalist with 25 years of experience covering CPG, retail and technology. Over the years, he has edited several trade publications and is the co-author of three books: "TARGET 2000: the Rising Tide of TechnoMarketing," "All about Sampling and Demonstrations," and "Consumer-Centric Category Management." He has appeared on CNN, CBS Radio and BBC Radio to discuss marketing issues. He can be reached at [email protected]

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