Babbling B’s Blog

Archive for July 2009

diving-boardThis post appeared on VitaminIMC – Medill IMC’s student-run blog.

While some companies are slowly dipping their toes into the social media waters, Whole Foods Market has dove in! Over the past eight months, Whole Foods’ social media presence has grown from corporate accounts to over 120 Twitter profiles and 97 Facebook pages.

Whole Foods is often cited as a social media success, but the details of its amazing tactics are what make them unique – taking a completely decentralized approach to their social media strategy. They have taken the close interaction between Whole Foods employees and consumers, along with team member empowerment and applied it to their social media strategy to create local relationships. This grassroots approach has fueled the explosion of their social media presence while supporting their corporate values system.

Their social media accounts range from umbrella corporate accounts to individual accounts for store locations. There are accounts that cover the many locations for metro-areas (think @WholeFoodsCHI) and topic-specific accounts discussing such topics as wine or cheese. They even created a social media presence around their participation at Bonnaroo.

Some may criticize such a fragmented approach to their social media, but Whole Foods learned from their experiences with their corporate social media accounts and expanded to fit their customer’s needs. They started to see that customers had very specific questions about local stores and quickly adapted, adding social media into the local marketing mix. Liz Bootz, the marketing team leader for Whole Foods Oakland, provides support to customers on Twitter. “One of the things I like best about being on Twitter is if a customer has a question, I can tweet the answer to them and provide that information to 200 other customers at the same time,” she said.

Other companies should follow their lead and apply unique company culture traits to social media, taking a personal and on-brand approach to their online presence. Their responsive, customer-centric method has seemed to work judging by the numbers. Whole Foods Twitter accounts recently reached one million followers.

I’ve been really happy with my decision to dive into social media and blogging. I’m constantly learning new things and sharing ideas with more and more people. It’s hard to believe I’ve only been interacting on these platforms for four months. So many things have happened to make me grateful, and so many things are on the horizon:

1) Blogging for VitaminIMC – Taking a more critical/editorial standpoint on integrated marketing communications strategies that companies and brands are taking has definitely pushed me as a marketer. I’ve also been able to make connections with some GREAT people in my academic program that are in the full-time classes, and they’ve become my partners-in-crime for attending social media events. Which leads me to…

2) Attending Social Media Events – Ok so I’ve only attended one so far, but I’m going to another one next week! It’s such an interesting atmosphere of learning, connecting and building relationships. It’s so fun to put a face with the avatar (get it?) and get to know people I otherwise would never come in contact with – and they’re in the same city!

3) Meeting GREAT People – This is probably the best part for me. And probably what drives me to write a sentimental postsuch as this – the people that you meet are pretty amazing. I am sill so surprised when I ask a question to Twitterland and get really great responses, tips and advice. I even get encouragement for my running!

4) Building Career Skills – Ultimately, and probably most importantly at this point in my life, I’m building up a network of people to get advice from and learning at an unbelievable pace. I’m learning the skills I need to be able to make a social media presence a reality for the company I work for.

I hope you are having a great experience too. If you’re new, keep learning. If you’re the expert that’s teaching others, Thank you!


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