Brands

How Whole Foods Maintains a Healthy Twitter Strategy

This post is part of the Twitter for Brands Series, which features winning strategies from the top brand pages on Twitter and provides tips on how to emulate their successes.

Whole Foods’ Twitter presence is corporate social media marketing at its finest.

The niche grocery store employs Twitter strategies that empower its customers and encourages them to be involved in the conversation. With 2.2 million followers on its main feed and counting, the company has found efficient and effective ways to promote brand loyalty, one 140-character tweet at a time.

Always Be On Call for Customers

Global Online Community Manager Michael Bepko, who runs the main Whole Foods Twitter, “spends about 90% of his time talking to individual shoppers,” according to the Wall Street Journal. He answers questions, responds to complaints, and takes suggestions from customers almost as soon as they come in. That way, customers don’t feel ignored and problems don’t spiral out of control.

Nothing hurts brand loyalty more than if customers feel like their voices aren’t heard. Bepko told Mashable, “In general, what is really important to our customers, fans and critics on Twitter is that they receive quick, helpful responses from us.”

Supply Customers With Relevant Ideas

 

Whole Foods customers aren’t your average grocery shoppers — for starters, they pay premium prices for better products. Unlike shoppers that don’t pay attention to ‘organic’ or ‘free range’ labels, Whole Foods customers are extremely conscious about what they put into their bodies. The Whole Foods demographic researches various brands and puts thought into what they’re going to pick up when they go to the store.

Knowing its demographic, Whole Foods offers nutrition advice and recipes via Twitter to appeal to its health-conscious followers. Whole Foods obviously knows its customers. They like to eat good food, talk about food, and learn everything about food.

Every company should follow this strategy: Starbucks should tweet out coffee making tips and news; Best Buy needs to let customers know about the latest advances in technology; and Chevrolet should post car facts.

It is subtle marketing — people who might not even like Whole Foods may start following its Twitter for the recipes and eventually become customers.

Target Communities

 

Along with the main Twitter handle @WholeFoods, the company creates accounts for specific communities. Currently, there are more than 250 set up.

In Baltimore, for example, there’s a @WholeFoodsMTW account for the store’s Mount Washington location. And the Fairfax branch of Los Angeles tweets under @WholeFoods3rdSt.

On each of these accounts, representatives from the store post special deals, events, recipes, and information regarding charity opportunities. They respond to concerns and questions that relate to their particular store, helping local customers out in a way that Bepko, who represents the corporation, could not.

David Schwartz of SOS eMarketing says that once Whole Foods established their social media presence, “They started to see that customers had very specific questions about local stores and quickly adapted, adding social media into the local marketing mix.”

Marla Erwin, the interactive art director for Whole Foods, told Social Media Examiner that when it comes to these individual accounts,  “For the most part, we’ve pretty much let [employees] run with it. A tight control from a corporate level would be exactly the opposite of what we were trying to achieve, which was to decentralize the responses.”

Erwin continues, “I definitely think that people who tweet on behalf of an organization need to be in it. If you can find the wonderful combination of someone who really knows your business and really knows social media, then that’s the person to use, even if they’re in the meat department or they’re a cashier.”

The Whole Foods employees updating the local Twitter accounts know the store better than anyone. They can also put a face to the customers tweeting at them. The responses are personal, and there is a real personality behind them, instead of a faceless corporate puppet.

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