Natural Foods Merchandiser
Retailers, are you doing enough to 'like' social media?

Retailers, are you doing enough to 'like' social media?

From large chains to mom-and-pops, natural food stores across the U.S. are finding that tweeting, liking and following is a powerful tool for marketing.

If the cobwebs are beginning to set in on your website’s blog and you can’t recall the last time you sent out a tweet or posted something to your Facebook page, you’re wasting a powerful opportunity to connect with your current customers and fans.

These days, just about every type of business is moving into the world of social media. After all, setting up a blog, Facebook page or Twitter account is free and easy—and doing so gives you the potential to connect with the hundreds of millions of people who now use social media, and then harness those word-of-mouth recommendations.

Yet creating a social media presence is only part of the process. To experience this networking tool’s real power, you must keep your blog, Facebook page and Twitter feed alive and relevant, which takes time and commitment.

Of course, you don’t want to post updates or send tweets just for the sake of doing so. Pestering people with useless and trivial information is the quickest way to lose friends and followers.

How should you update your social media sites? One example is Wisconsin-based chain Festival Foods’ recent Facebook posts, which include a link to an article about the health benefits of a raw diet, and weekly tips on how to “trade up” to more nutritionally dense foods and beverages.

Along with serving as an educational tool, a social media site can also be used to solicit timely feedback from existing and prospective customers. Herban Marketplace, which is slated to open later this year in Beaufort, S.C., uses its Facebook page to tell the community about its impending opening and to collect ideas about the products and brands the store should carry.

Festival Foods and Herban Marketplace are just two of the many retailers doing a nice job with social media. Others include Whole Foods Market, Sprouts Farmers Market and Earth Fare. If you haven’t recently, check out what these and others post on their websites, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages, and implement the ideas that make sense for your store. It doesn’t require a corporate marketing department to maintain an active, relevant social media presence—just a little time, commitment and passion for who you are, what you sell and the customers you serve.

Bill Crawford is director of retail publishing programs at New Hope Natural Media.

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