So Much More Than Organic Groceries: Whole Foods Market

Hailey Rogers and I examined Whole Foods Market to see how the world’s largest retailer of natural and organic foods is using social media. It is amazing how they use technology to really promote a lifestyle. Who knew a grocery store could be so fun?

Obviously, Whole Foods has the traditional Twitter and Facebook channels. They share photos on Flickr and upload videos to YouTube. Whole Foods is embracing Pinterest like none other, and next time we decided to have class via a Google+ hangout, we can call them up if we’d like. Whole Story, the official Whole Foods Market blog, sets the bar high with organic food information, recipes, and advice concerning anything and everything healthy, organic, and natural living. In addition, Whole Foods Market has two apps for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. One is dedicated to healthy recipes, while the other allows users to connect with others via social networks on their quest to lead healthier lifestyles.

The following link leads to an infographic from Enterprise Social Media (via slideshare) that illustrates how Whole Foods uses individual social media platforms to their full potential to drive traffic to the store and connect with customers. Whole Foods Social Media

Whole Foods is extremely dedicated to communication with customers, and they experimented in social media before many other companies.  According to an article from Mashable.com, that is a large part of what sets Whole Foods apart from the competition.

I also got that part of what has motivated Whole Foods’ efforts in social media — and what can account for much of their success — is a willingness to be bold and take risks. Such boldness can of course have its dangers… yet this has also helped them plow ahead in social media while other businesses their size waited cautiously in the background to see if it was “safe” or if these sites would gain in popularity.

-Soren Gordhamer, Mashable contributor

Whole Foods’ Twitter stands out as particularly exceptional. The company’s headquarters operate two accounts, one for customer service, @WholeFoods, where questions and concerns are addressed immediately from 9-5 daily. The other, @WholeFoodsPR, is used for headlines and breaking news from headquarters, as well as interacting with media partners. On top of those two accounts, individual stores maintain Twitter accounts. These are used for local updates about events and products. This shows the company’s attention to customers as  Birmingham shoppers need different information than those in New York. Whole Foods’ Twitter usage is just one way they tailor content via social media outlets to get the most out of each platform.

Campaign Focus: King of Cheese

Recently, Whole Foods has been using social media to promote “The Crack Heard Around the World.” On Saturday, March 10, at 3 pm EST, Whole Foods Markets across the U.S., Canada and U.K. will simultaneously crack wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano. This annual event is being publicized on Whole Foods blog, YouTube channel, Facebook and Twitter, with Parmigiano Reggiano marketed as the King of Cheese. They even hosted a live stream on February 27, 2012, sharing recipes, storing and handling information and pairing tips. This campaign goes to show how social media can take some of the smallest concepts and make them a phenomenon, while, at the same time, marketing your business and educating your audience.

Whole Foods Market’s success is proof that no matter your industry, social media can play a vital role in your business. Not only is customer service strengthened, but it allows you to create an image, and become a real, relatable entity to your clients.

Images and video courtesy of Whole Foods Market Press Room.

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