From Kroger to United, More Retailers Discover ROI in Social Media


Many food industry players have embraced social media on faith. They’re sure it will pay off, but they can’t say exactly how or when.

That’s beginning to change.

More retailers are focusing on activities with the potential for clear returns and already seeing tangible results, a fact that raises the stakes for the entire industry. For many companies it’s no longer good enough to just be involved; the expectation is also clear ROI.

Here are some recent examples, many reported in SN, that indicate payoffs are well under way.

  • Sharing Internally: Kroger Co. is using the platform “Yodel” for internal content sharing, including with teams and affinity groups, according to an executive who spoke at FMI Future Connect. The platform was launched with regular blog posts from David Dillon, chairman and CEO, which spurred employee commenting. The result has been a growing amount of feedback from associates, especially hourly ones.
  • Building a following: United Supermarkets recently revamped its social media strategy to give its three individual store banners unique presences on several social media platforms. Previously it focused on a regional strategy that grouped together banners. The new direction helped differentiate updates about each of the banners and led to a 38% spike in the Facebook and Twitter following.
  • Engaging customers: Wegmans uses its Twitter account to solicit feedback from shoppers, and one follower recently suggested the company consider a bodega concept. Wegmans also informs shoppers about recalls and other important developments.
  • Recruiting: Filling jobs is one of the top uses of social media for retailers, and more companies are creating separate accounts for that purpose. The @PublixJobs Twitter account sends an ongoing stream of Tweets such as this recent one: “Join Publix in Lakeland FL as Transportation System Operator at our Distribution Center.”
  • Recognizing Associates: Not long ago Food Lion used Facebook to give a vote of confidence to its employees. The retailer asked customers to call attention to stellar associates, and it drew more than 100 glowing responses, many using exclamation points.

After scanning all these activities, you might question why the word “social” is used at all to describe this media. That word brings to mind companionship, friendship and relationships, but not really goal-driven activities.

Maybe “ROI Media” wouldn’t have had quite the same ring to it. But ROI is what’s happening, and organizations will increasingly expect more of it.

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Julie Gallagher

Julie Gallagher’s delicious foray into coverage of the food industry was purely accidental. With a background in technology, she joined Supermarket News as associate editor of its Technology...

Liz Webber

Liz Webber is Senior Digital Manager at Supermarket News. She covers fresh foods for the magazine and creates multimedia, blog posts and other content for the website. She joined SN in August 2012.
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