Smart marketers know that one of the major advantages of social media in business is its ability to build deep two-way communication. That’s taken to heart at Whole Foods Market, where just 5% of the tweets are promotional and 10% content-based. The rest – a whopping 85% – are responses to customers.
Those figures come from Bill Tolany, who works on the Texas-based food retailer’s integrated media team, as reported in a recent post on SmartBlog on Social Media. He was speaking at the Corporate Social Media Summit, where he provided some good tips on using Twitter for business.
Whole Foods Market clearly believes in local empowerment. Rather than controlling everything from headquarters, most of its Twitter activity comes from staffers in local stores, who know their local markets and can respond to local issues much faster than messages that have to be relayed down from HQ to a local store and back again. It also means social media becomes part of the company’s core mission at all of its stores.
Tolany offers some savvy advice for social media leaders at other companies:
- Provide something to the customer. Whole Foods works hard to answer questions about recipes, wine, cheese, ingredients and health tips. The company found that customers who are more knowledgeable about food are more likely to be Whole Foods customers, so helping them learn more about food helps make the store more appealing as a destination.
- Serve all your customers. You can’t just count on the foodies, you also need to interact with shoppers who only come to Whole Foods occasionally. Give them more of a reason to come and they will. For example, Whole Foods tweets out flash sales on seasonal items that will only be in the stores for a single day. Whole Foods also uses social media to promote its gift boxes as another way to reach its occasional customers.
- Encourage conversation. To use Twitter as a two-way communications tool, Whole Foods works diligently to get its followers to respond and interact. For example, it holds contests with questions about food and healthy living. Nor does it take itself too seriously. It posted cooking tips for insects on its website as an April Fool’s spoof as well as a YouTube video making fun of an incredibly crowded and despised parking lot for one of its Los Angeles stores.