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    The Power of Social Media

    Social networking’s impact has become impossible to ignore.

    Move over, traditional marketing! Social media is redefining the ways retailers communicate with their customers. Besides being an important source of customer information and empowerment, social networking can strengthen relationships between retailers and consumers while generating store buzz and increasing in-store traffic and sales.

    When used effectively, social media also allows retailers to showcase their vision and personality and stand out from their competitors while reaching a wide audience and learning more about their customers’ needs.

    “Today shoppers can reach out in all directions for information, guidance, opinions and logistics that help while shopping. Retailers need to be visible in the places where shoppers are looking for help and inspiration,” noted the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association’s (IDDBA) 2015 “Digital Merchandising for Deli and Bakery” report.

    IDDBA’s special research report, prepared by Barrington, Ill.-based Brick Meets Click, a grocery e-commerce consultancy, pointed to social media as an opportunity to boost engagement and return visits by encouraging shopper feedback and conversation.

    More specifically, the study recommended using social media channels to give consumers opportunities to post reviews, recommendations and tips; to rate content and products; and to share their experiences. Social media networking also provides an opportunity to drive awareness for events, new products and specials, the study noted.

    The retailer-consumer connection

    As an extension of its in-store experience, Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets has embraced various social media platforms. Most recently, the retailer announced that it has increased its online social presence with fourth-quarter soft launches on Pinterest (December 2015) and Instagram (October 2015).

    Customer interest in Publix’s Instagram and Pinterest accounts was high even before the retailer became active on the platforms. For example, more than 300,000 photos have been shared on Instagram using #publix, according to the company.

    “As a retailer passionately committed to serving our customers, our social media presence has always been about engaging with our customers where they are and extending our in-store service online,” said Maria Brous, Publix media and community relations director. “Pinterest allows us to inspire and entertain with recipes and holiday and event planning ideas. Instagram will further our connection with our online community through photos and videos showcasing our brand personality and strong company culture.”

    Publix also has 2.4 million fans on Facebook and more than 190,000 followers on Twitter. From responding to questions and comments, to offering recipes and entertaining ideas, to sharing store news, Publix’s social media platforms are designed to be fun and engaging.

    Coinciding with this year’s award season, for example, Publix used Twitter and Facebook to promote its first-ever #PublixAwards, which asked consumers to vote for Publix food products in categories such as Best Dish in a Leading Role (nominees included Rotisserie Chicken, Ultimate Sub, Fried Chicken and Turkey Sub) and Best Supporting Side Dish (nominees included Macaroni and Cheese, Potato Wedges, Baked Beans and Sweet Coleslaw). Consumers were encouraged to revisit Publix’s social media sites on Academy Awards night in February 2016 to see which dishes received the most votes.

    Engaging with deli-specific content

    Focusing on Tyson’s deli products and overall awareness of the deli department as a source for meal solutions, Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods’ website DeliAnytime.com provides ideas, tips and incentives for creating convenient family meals with products from the supermarket deli. DeliAnytime.com is also linked to social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram to better reach consumers.

    “Our goal is to provide you and your family with quick and easy dinner options. Never short on quality, our products are available in your grocer's deli, with meal ideas to keep it fresh at the dinner table,” according to the DeliAnytime site.

    Tyson’s DeliAnytime site comprises all-things deli, from recipe ideas, to entertaining and cooking tips, to blogs, articles and videos, all aimed at increasing consumers’ use of the deli as a meal destination and resource. Recent blogs offered Light Prep salad recipes featuring Tyson chicken products, and No Cooking Leap Year Recipes such as an Orange Pomegranate Tenders Salad recipe with Tyson Chicken Tenders, a Super Ham Hoagie, and a Chicken Fruit Salad made with leftover rotisserie chicken.

    To establish ongoing connections, Tyson provides various communications for deli shoppers, such as emails with weekly meal ideas and monthly deli offers and updates.

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