How to get social with your shoppers

Customers are talking about you long after they've left your store. With social media, you can be part of the conversation


Grocers are known for providing a strong sense of community. But thanks to social media, that community is now also online, not just in stores.

Facebook Canada revealed last year that half of Canadians log into Facebook once a month, and 14 million check their news feeds daily. And while 49% of respondents to a recent Canadian Grocer online poll agreed social media was a priority, many grocery retailers are lagging behind, says B.C.-based research firm Chasm.

So how can you be a part of the conversation?

The first step is listening to your shoppers on social media.

This is the first time retailers have been able to eavesdrop on their customers, says Michael Sansolo, food industry consultant and former FMI executive. Specialty web- sites, such as Hootsuite, can help monitor your store’s mentions on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms.

“The empowerment social media gives shoppers is a bit scary,” says Colorado-based Craig Elston, EVP of insight and strategy at shopper marketing agency The Integer Group. “But if there’s a problem, retailers need to know about it, need to fix it and, most importantly, need to be seen fixing it.”

Connecting with customers online also helps build transparency and authenticity. But rather than digital coupons, shoppers want discussion and solutions.

“If you post a recipe with ingredients you have in-store, you’ll be able to engage your customer while still driving sales,” says Sansolo.

Alain Dumas, senior director of public affairs for Sobeys Quebec, says its marketing team decided how to best use each social media account early on. IGA uses Facebook to share information and engage in discussions, and Pinterest to share photos and recipes. “We take more of a customer care approach with Twitter,” he says.


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