Anyone who lived in Austin, Texas in the early 1980s would probably remember how Whole Foods planted the seeds of success for what is now a worldwide grocery store business; it built strong ties with a community that supported its idea for natural/organic products and sustainable agriculture. Whole Foods listened to its customers and wasn’t afraid to enter into conversations with them.
More than 300 stores and 64,000 employees later, an aggressive social media strategy has resulted in Whole Foods building out a global community of customers. Yet in many ways it blogs and tweets as if it were still residing in one small store on Lamar Boulevard in downtown Austin, and that offers lessons for any small/midsize business striving for their own natural approach to marketing via social media:
- A CEO Who Blogs And Grows His/Her Own Opinions – Whole Foods CEO John Mackey doesn’t contribute blog posts all the time. But when he does, he candidly expresses his thoughts on job creation, healthcare reform and other matters of economic import. Mackey makes it clear his opinions are his own and not necessarily those of his company, yet he’s contributing thought-leadership on his industry and also setting the standard for other CEO wannabe bloggers.
- Water Your Social Media Garden Constantly – The official Whole Foods company blog, the Whole Story, is updated regularly and includes everything from recipes to official company policy on controversial agriculture issues to fun/holiday-related posts.
- Know Your Audience #1: Harvest Their Thoughts – Yes, Whole Foods’ Twitter and Facebook feeds have the latest on discounts and bargains, when new or requested food items are available, etc. But the company is also active in responding to questions/complaints and solicits comments and suggestions for better service.
- Know Your Audience #2: Serve Up Specific Content – Just like a well-stocked grocery store, Whole Foods’ Twitter feeds offer up a diverse sampling of content. There are feeds for wine enthusiasts, cheese lovers, recipes, the PR department, a charitable foundation. Many cities served by the company, as well as specific stores, have their own Twitter feeds.
In each of these instances, Whole Foods makes it clear that an actual human being – not a brand or trademark – is providing content to its community. You can’t get much more organic/natural/homegrown than that, and it’s an approach that should be copied by any small business looking to cultivate its customer base.
Whole Foods has been recognized for its use of social media. What do you think? Are there other Whole Foods examples for small/midsize businesses? Do you see room for improvement? Please share with us in our Comments section.
Therefore, it's utterly up to you ways you'd wish to establish yourself as alittle business owner on-line with the assistance of web selling, be it as an Amazon affiliate or in another means, it depends on you.
This is very inspiring, and it tells us that even with the technological advancements, the need to connect to a real, live human being is what needs to be met if companies would like to win more customers using social media.
Thank you for the post. It's always nice to have a good case study out there for reference. It's particularly nice to keep new ideas in mind when chatting with clients over social promotions and how to better reward customers for spreading a brand.