In Chapter 4 of Social Media Management, Shields fleshes out the need to develop a social media brand strategy and the different approaches to do so. Developing a social media brand presence is critical to reaching customers and establishing rapport. Shields uses Whole Foods as an example, which has grown to identify with the nickname “Whole Paycheck”.
While Whole Foods emphasizes their focus on only selling organic, locally grown or produced products, the prices associated with the store haven’t gone unnoticed. Customers who shop here are not always necessarily getting the best “bang for their buck”. When Whole Foods received this feedback they re-strategized their marketing techniques and worked on enhancing the “in-store” shopping experience for customers. Free samples, prepared food and talkative staff helped promote the ambiance of the store and increase customer satisfaction. Whole Foods eventually developed a strategy that combined a “global master brand account” and a “local account” to reach out to customers via Facebook and Twitter. I definitely applaud Whole Foods for taking this approach instead of doing one or the other. By having both types of accounts, the brand can have a universal, corporate voice to reach customers but also have smaller, more tailored voices to specific stores and locations. If a customer ever has an issue with a product they purchased at a specific store it would be inefficient to have the corporate account address it. A corporate manager won’t be able to easily personalize a response as Whole Foods likely has hundreds of stores across the country.
I believe that this approach will translate best not only for Whole Foods but for any company or brand. Large corporations with many locations should take advantage of having both a widespread voice that customers can rely on, but also a specific store presence to communicate with customers. I work at Stack’d, which started out as only two restaurants owned by the same person. Now there are multiple locations in Pittsburgh and the company is continuing to expand. I hate the website Yelp, but for this blog post I will mention it here. If someone posts a bad review about our restaurant on Yelp, the website allows managers to respond directly to the review. Since we now have multiple locations reviews are location specific, so the manager of the individual Stack’d can respond. This personalized voice establishes customer rapport and is better than having an overall regional manager respond to a comment, as they might not know the specifics of the issue. Social network branding is a growingly important strategy and business plan to work on. Twenty years ago having a social media presence on Facebook or Twitter was not nearly as important or vital to a company’s outreach success. I wonder what the next twenty years will bring for marking and social branding.
Shields, Ben. Social Media Management. Oxford University Press, 2016.