LinkedIn and the Grocery World

Businesses, as they  begin to use social media more and more, they are realizing how to get the most of the applications that they are using in addition to knowing which applications to use. That goes for consumers and job hunters as well. I get closer towards my graduation; I am starting to build my new profile for my career search. One of the applications I will put my profile on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with millions of members and growing rapidly. It can help establish a professional profile and control one of the top search results. In addition, it can build and maintain a broader network of as well as learn about other companies. But, LinkedIn can do more than just that. It can actually help develop and leverage powerful tools to find and reach the people you need including customers and other companies with which to do business.

            LinkedIn is a great network for finding leads, growing their business globally, or finding the right vendors. However, they are more ways to get use LinkedIn. Current customers can post recommendations on a business’ profile for visitors like potential customers to peruse. Also, businesses can link blogs from their LinkedIn profiles about their products. When looking through the LinkedIn, I found many grocery store chains miss this opportunity. Giant Eagle (my company), Wegman’s and Delhaize have very basic profiles basically advertising positions that they have open. However, Publix, a southern grocery store chain based in Florida, has a much more expansive profile. They include updates, Facebook and Twitter accounts’ links as well as links to blogs about the company and products. They also have a look into their culture and interviews with employers. Whether or not this is the cause, Publix has many followers than the other three.

            LinkedIn offers a way for businesses to sell to and work with other business through their own profiles and researching others. Businesses can also utilize LinkedIn for business to business transactions and couplings. There are grocery forums and groups such as Progressive Grocer and retail and Wholesale for Network where businesses can interact and sell their services and products to each other.

            Regardless, these social media is used sparingly with the grocery store chains as well as many other businesses. It is mostly used as a job search tool.  The site states its mission is “to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.” There is no desire on the LinkedIn site to be a social networking site for the masses. The site is for managers, primarily middle managers and young professionals who want to build contacts and look for employment. However, there is room for companies to develop a more PR usable tool. By filling out the LinkedIn profile completely, such as what products or services they sale would expand their ability to show what they have to offer. Also, adding more links to other social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter as well as adding the LinkedIn links to those outlets can continue to bring in potential customers. But many companies just have a small explanation of the company and just job postings.

 

References

 

The Value of LinkedIn, http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/45, accessed on Feb 2013

 

Kawasaki, Guy (April 2010), Ten Ways for Small Businesses to Use LinkedIn, http://blog.linkedin.com/2010/04/12/linkedin-small-business-tips/

 

LinkedIn accounts of Publix, Wegman’s, Giant Eagle, and Delhaize.

 

Evans, Meryl K (Jul 2009), 33 Ways to Use LinkedIn for Business, http://gigaom.com/2009/07/13/33-ways-to-use-linkedin-for-business/

Horton, James (2011), How Fortune100 Companies Use LinkedIn, http://www.online-pr.com/Holding/Fortune%20100%20and%20LinkedIn.pdf

 

 

 

 

Social Media in the Grocery Business

I work for a large grocery store chain in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio called Giant Eagle. Social media in the grocery world can be extremely influential if done properly. However, according to the report, “Untangling the Social Web: Insights for Users, Brands and Retailers,” one of the surveys uncovered that nearly 70 percent of supermarket chief marketing officers state they feel unprepared to integrate social media into their marketing mix. The main reason was lack of a starting point. But this report provides ideas about how to start a successful social media campaign and gain footing as it grows.

Food is one of the top subjects of discussion among social web users. So, it is important for the grocery industry to engage because their customers spend significant time talking about shopping experiences, stores and products on social media platforms. Because of this supermarkets are not just providing coupons and specials. They are engaging their customers by listening to and understanding their consumers, participating in discussions with them and creating places for them to gather and build loyalty.            Facebook seems to be the preferred social channel for the grocery industry. With the exception of Whole Foods whose upscale clientele and price points lean towards the cutting edge technologists have a larger Twitter following, grocery stores’ customers are more mainstream and family-oriented which fits in better with the Facebook platform.

In addition, supermarket chains have used social media to promote the corporate social responsibility. Whole Foods, an organic and natural foods chain from Austin Texas, hired 5W Public Relations to promote their “School Lunch Revolution” and theLunchBox.org campaign. Whole Foods backed website designed to help transform school lunches across the country and combat childhood obesity. It became of the most innovative and successful marketing campaigns to help changes school lunches and procedures. Giant Eagle has a loyalty program, Advantage Card, which is used when purchasing food and gas from its GetGo gas stations. Her campaign, along with Young & Rubicam, Chicago, “That’s My Giant Eagle Advantage” allowed a place for customers and team members to display various reasons for choosing Giant Eagle. People posted their stories online through Facebook and the Giant Eagle’s internet site either through text or video. This was a very popular campaign with the customer focus groups and team members alike.

Even though all supermarket chains can benefit from social media, there is a vast difference active social media presence between the two. National chains have more of a budget and audience. A bigger national impression means there are more resources to put against social channels and the more potential people they can reach. One of the clear disparities in having the scale and budgets is that ability to invest in high quality content and people to engage in conversations around that content. So, the large chains began to think like a media company. Since there is a large reduction in the cost of production and in its distribution, it is now cheaper and less complicated to create the media directly, or in conjunction with a partner. This has opened up a greater YouTube presence. Whole Foods has many recipes and how to prepare those videos as well as videos from founder John Mackey discussing who Whole Foods is and its culture. Giant Eagle has videos ranging from preparing Market District products (their own line). This started customers to bring in their own ideas on recipes and post them. The grocery chain had many good recipes that a book by made. It is being considered.

Social media in the supermarket business can be very beneficial for promoting their brand, their products and their culture. Although many chains use it relatively proficient in it, many more are still apprehensive. Either way, social media is a powerful tool that is growing in followers and for stores to be successful, they need to utilize it.

References

Twitter, LinkedIn Logical Social Media Entry Points: Study (Apr 2012), http://www.progressivegrocer.com/top-stories/headlines/technology/id35201/twitter-linkedin-logical-social-media-entry-points-study

Chris Heuer On Grocery Store Social Media Marketing (August 31, 2010), http://pr.typepad.com/pr_communications/2010/08/chris-heuer-on-grocery-store-social-media-marketing.html

Whole Foods Market Case Study, http://www.5wpr.com/practice/casestudy-WholeFoods.cfm, accessed on Feb 2013

Hamstra, Mark (Jan, 2011), Advantage: Giant Eagle’s Lisa Henriksen, http://supermarketnews.com/marketing/advantage-giant-eagles-lisa-henriksen

Whole Foods Market on YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/user/WholeFoodsMarket/videos?view=0

Social Media Tool

Although social media has created big impacts for many different industries, the grocery supermarket business has a lot of catching up to do.  According to new research published by the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council of North America (CCRRC), nearly 70 percent of supermarket chief marketing officers say they feel ill-equipped to integrate social media into their marketing mix. Basically, they do not know where to begin and then gain sustainability

using social media tools. This is unfortunate for these companies for their inability to capitalize on the social media phenomenon. Not only do customers spend significant time talking about shopping experiences, stores and products on social media platforms, but also food is one of the top subjects of discussion among social web users.

            However, recruiting among the grocery chains have changed due to the growth of platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn as a place to start. Companies report a strong increase in their use of social networking sites and websites for recruiting, while also predicting a sharp reduction in campus recruiting, job board and third-party recruiters. Job hunters recognize this change and are increasing their use of social networking sites to seek employment opportunities.

Grocery chains need to get moving on learning how social media can work for them. When putting together a course of action, it is crucial to understand that not all social web users use social media in the same way. There are four categories of users along with their style, the manner in which they interact and their influence as shoppers. They are bonders, sharers, professionals and creators can help retailers more effectively leverage social media for strategic business purposes. In addition, companies have to reach out to these shoppers while projecting their core values.

            As companies begin interaction, they must find ways to build interest. Some ideas stem from creating specific triggers, such as time-sensitive offers, sweepstakes or limited supplies, to drive rapid responses. Another idea offers a single item to focus on.  Learning how to cultivate these deeper relationships is the key to successful engagement. The social web demands something deeper and provides an ideal venue to listen to and understand consumers, to participate in their discussions and to create places for them to gather and build loyalty.  Merely providing coupons or specials is not enough.

My company, grocery store chain Giant Eagle, had a social media campaign that came up lacking. Two years, Giant Eagle wanted to promote their own brand items. So, it decided to hand out $150 gift cards to Twitter followers who talked-up its private brands. Shoppers who tweeted about their favorite Giant Eagle-branded product were eligible to win the “My Favorite Giant Eagle Brand” sweepstakes. Customers used the provided hash tag of #GiantEagleFavorites and tweeted about Creamery Classics ice cream, ready-to-serve soup and chunky pasta sauce. However, the campaign only dealt with getting people to mention the brand names, but not on the substance of what they’re talking about or why anybody who received and noticed the Tweets would care.  Instead, Giant Eagle should have encouraged its customers to join together these products. They could have held a special for a number of shoppers who love a store brand show up at a specific store on a specific day to win something. This kind of promotion would have a brought a “community” together within Giant Eagle.

 

References

 

Twitter, LinkedIn Logical Social Media Entry Points: Study (Aug 2012), http://www.progressivegrocer.com/top-stories/headlines/technology/id35201/twitter-linkedin-logical-social-media-entry-points-study

 

Molander, Jeff (June 2011), How Grocery Stores Can Avoid Spinning Wheels with Social Media, http://www.makesocialmediasell.com/social-media-tips/grocery-stores-social/