Whole Foods Market’s Subtle Social Media Marketing Plan

BradFriedman
Brad Friedman President, The Friedman Group, LLC

Posted on August 4th 2011

 

According to Bill Tolany of Whole Foods Market, responses to customer comments make up 85% of all the Tweets the company sends out. 10% of the Tweets are content-based and 5% are promotional. Mr. Tolany, in remarks made at the Corporate Social Media Summit in New York in June, indicated customer interaction is the core of the company’s social media efforts and a key to improving Whole Foods’ bottom line.

Tolany said customers who are more knowledgeable about food are more likely to be Whole Foods customers. So, the company makes efforts to help people learn more about ingredients, locate recipes and pick up health tips. Notice, this information serves to benefit customers not, blatantly advertise for the company. Whole Foods created Twitter accounts that focus on wine and cheese, and another that answers recipe related questions.

Not all Whole Foods customers are series foodies. Tolany notes that many of their customers treat Whole Foods as a supplemental grocery store – where they pick up special items or a pre-made meal. The company works hard to use social media to give these occasional shoppers more reasons to connect, like announcing flash sales on seasonal items that will only be in effect for a day or so. Social media is also the only way Whole Foods promotes its gift boxes.

Whole Foods makes itself more approachable by encouraging customers to interact with them through social channels. They host contests and have been known to play April Fool’s jokes and pass along videos that may not seem entirely flattering. “Customers will fill in the blank if you let them,” Tolany said.

The company is known for its culture of local empowerment. This is evidenced, in part, by the fact that individual locations often have their own Twitter and/or Facebook pages. What better way to answer customers’ location specific questions?

Whole Foods is a great example of a company taking advantage of the power of social media to grow the bottom line. Maybe Domino’s Pizza is trying to follow the Whole Foods example. Until August 23rd, Domino’s is running an electronic ticker in Times Square displaying in real-time what consumers really think of the brand. We’ll be watching to see how that works for them.

Do you have examples of innovative ways companies are using social media to grow their business? Let us know in the comments below.

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BradFriedman

Brad Friedman

President, The Friedman Group, LLC

Brad Friedman is a “Recovering Attorney” living in Denver, Colorado. In 2010, Mr. Friedman parlayed his passion for technology and his business, legal and marketing savvy into the creation of The Friedman Group, LLC. Brad has developed a group of highly skilled people to work with attorneys, CPAs, financial services providers, small businesses and other professionals to develop strategies that enhance their online presence and engage clients, prospects and referral sources through the power of inbound and social media marketing with the goal of generating leads and revenue.

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Comments

This is a great article and makes a great point about what Whole Foods has been able to do with social media. The fact is that Whole Foods has relied on word of mouth for so long in their business practices. They way that they marketed there brand in the past was not an effective way to marklet as you look to the future. They have done a great job in that aspect.

Jasjeet, Thanks for taking the time to read my post.  I was impressed with what Whole Foods is doing in the social media sphere.  I run into many businesses that don't think they need to get involved with social media.  Whole Foods is a great example to share with these people.  Brad

I was fortunate to be able to introduce Bill at this conference, hosted by Useful Social Media. I was interested to learn about how Whole Foods' new social platform is integrating the operations of stores that have traditionally relied on highly distributed purchasing and merchandising systems.  Good stuff, Brad.

I was fortunate to be able to introduce Bill at this conference, hosted by Useful Social Media, and was really interested to learn about how Whole Foods new social platform is integrating the operations of stores that have traditionally relied on highly distributed purchasing and merchandising systems.  Good stuff, Brad.

Thanks Robin.  Sounds Like it was quite a conference and there was plenty to learn from all the attendees.  I appreciate you taking the time to read my post.  Brad