Why Traditional Marketing Strategies on Social Media Don't Work

February 24, 2016

Although digital and social media marketing are the growing trend, the retail grocery industry is still allocating over 85% of their marketing funds to television, radio, newspaper, direct mailing, and in store marketing material. Thus leaving less than 15% of their budget for digital methods. The emphasis on digital and social are growing with 71% of companies increasing their marketing budgets this year (Webbiquity) and 78% of companies admitting they have a dedicated social media team. (Iscoop) The looming concern is how to strategize these new methods and create successful campaigns. 

As Grocery retailers and manufactures begin to allocate more time, money, and resources to utilizing social networks the challenge is learning how to leverage its power. There is evidence to suggest that for the vast majority of business’, 50% which admitted that although they use digital and social media marketing strategies, have yet to build a strategic plan of execution. (Smart Insights & TFM&A) And we can assume that a significant chunk that do have a plan are not executing it effectively. 

For the vast majority of grocery retailer’s social media is a single corporate Facebook page, with branded content, ranging from recipes to short informational clips about their organization. If you’re a 100 store chain, chances are there are close to 100 user created Facebook pages for each individual location. Imagine claiming all 100 of those pages, properly branding them, and harnessing all of the likes, check-ins, and feedback? You’d be creating 100X the positive brand exposure. 

Still, marketing departments are confused as to why they can’t build a following, get customers to engage or see any ROI. Unfortunately, simply transferring traditional marketing tactics into the social space will not see results. A retailer that plugs its branded videos and images, creates digital circulars, and mimics it’s competitors will get lost in the buzzing social spectrum. 

Five Basic Steps for Retail Grocers 

  1. Create or claim local pages
  2. Offer exclusive coupons and promotions
  3. Run contests
  4. Pose questions to your customers
  5. Engage your customers

These are ground level adjustments to build the base for your stores. Once you’ve cleaned up your social media mess and have created a bit of local buzz you’ll next need to gain a more complex understanding of how social media marketing works.

Industry leaders have learned that leveraging social media requires tapping into important trending cultural topics. This is the bread and butter of creating a social campaign. Your objective is to get people to react, in a good way, and to support your message. 

Stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have done an excellent job of this, tapping into consumer fears about processed foods, fillers, GMO’s, and high fructose corn syrup. They create content that shows concern for their customers well being, rallying behind a trending sub-cultural topic amongst social media users. Prior to social media, getting such messages out to the masses were nearly impossible. Smart companies see these opportunities and apply their marketing strategy to leveraging hot social topics. 

These cultural moments are endless, companies have aligned themselves with body shaming, (Dove) farm to fork, (Chipotle) and Feminism (Under Armor) to successfully tap into these cultural moments at the right time. By doing so they’ve created the buzz that social media demands in order to run a successful campaign. Each brand has its own unique message that must be matched with the right topics, and also timing is KEY to successful execution. 

Aligning your brand with influential social media icons is another way of leveraging social platforms. Regional brands such as UNREAL Candy have partnered with Tom Brady creating viral advertisement videos and helping to launch brand awareness and harness brand loyalty from New England shoppers. 

These are just a few examples of what companies are doing right. Marketing potential is boundless, but just saying “We’re on social” is not enough to compete. Does a product at your stores sell itself by just being on the shelf? Social media is no different, putting yourself on the social media shelf is not enough to successfully execute your campaign, fortunately it’s never been a better time to form a strategy.