Social Media Dos & Don'ts For Independent Grocers

Dec 7, 2022

While one social media site has been making a lot of negative news lately (looking at you, Twitter), social media isn’t going away. A prime source for news and friendships, it’s also an essential marketing tool, especially for small businesses who can get the most bang for their buck in boosted posts and ads.

Most grocers recognize that social media can amplify their brand. According to the 2021 Sprout Social Index™, 90% of consumers will purchase from a brand they follow on social media. They are also 86% more likely to choose that brand over a competitor.

With consumers increasingly turning to brands’ social media pages for support, independent grocers must ensure their channels are being monitored at all times. When issues are addressed efficiently and satisfactorily, a brand’s customer advocacy can increase up to 25%.

“Social media is a powerful resource for independent grocers when they are willing to open themselves up to their shoppers,” says Megan Drazer, IGA’s senior director of shopper content. “Unlike their corporate chain competition, independent retailers have the freedom to ask their shoppers for input, listen and respond quickly to feedback, and share their own company personality.”

So why would an independent grocer have a social media page? For Jimmy Wright, owner of Wright’s Market in Opelika, Alabama, he turned to social media to reach more customers.

"We've seen a decline in newspaper readership, and we know how many people we're reaching on social media — it's measurable." He adds that he also likes the speed and flexibility of posting on social when compared to print.

“I think all retailers should be actively participating in social media,” says Sierra Sterrett, digital marketing and social media coordinator for Oregon-based Chester’s Markets. “Digital media is growing every single day and has taken over society and the way we function, act, think, etc. The most important aspect of marketing is to provide content that will be captivating to the consumer. In this fast-growing digital world, this can be extremely difficult yet rewarding when done correctly.”

To help retailers up their social media game, we have compiled a list of dos and don'ts from independent grocers who have shown consistently strong engagement.

Wright's Market

Wright's Market shows continuously high engagement on their Facebook page whether it's through their Free Food Fridays (a chance to win a store gift card), showing off the day's prepared foods, or sharing community fundraisers. 

  • DO: Vary your content. Wright’s Markets uses a combination of professional graphics and personal posts from Jimmy that include employee spotlights, updates on their ongoing store renovation, and the especially popular updates on Jimmy's daughter Emily through the years. The right mix of business and personal updates creates a sense of trust and sharing with their social media community.

Screen Shot 2022-11-14 at 12.27.01 PMWright's Market constantly updated its shoppers on the status of its store renovations.

  • DON'T: Get political. Wright’s Markets chooses not to take a political or social stance. “We never have delved into the area of taking a position on anything. We're just about selling groceries,” Wright says.
Chester's Thriftway

Regular employee features are very popular with Chester's Thriftway shoppers. The John Day, Oregon store chooses an employee of the week and even an employee of the quarter, providing a steady stream of community-positive content and communication.

  • DO: Lead with people and community. For Chester’s, Wright’s, and Grant’s Supermarkets, community-based posts and employee recognition are among their most popular content. 

    “With being such a close community, our customers are extremely familiar with our staff and even create relationships with them just from coming into the stores. That being said, they are always excited to see our employees highlighted on our pages. We pick one employee at each store each week to show appreciation to and highlight their strong work ethic,” Sterrett says.

Screen Shot 2022-11-14 at 12.31.33 PM  Chester's Thriftway receives strong engagement from their Employee of The Week posts.

  • DO: Post when your audience is online. Chester’s focuses on its main audiences and getting new content up on its platforms at the common times of streaming for that audience. 

    “For example, our most popular audience is moms. So we post around school drop off and pick up, which are common times that a mom may be waiting in her car and scrolling through her social media accounts," Sterrett says.

  • DON'T: Be too salesy. Chester's Markets almost always avoids sales-based posts. 

    "We do not post our products unless we have a major sale that would really benefit the consumer," Sterrett says. "We have found that our audience prefers posts related to people and our communities. Our customers want to see the friendly faces of Chester's, not what we have on sale today. From what we have learned over the years, our small communities are familiar with what we offer and don't find this type of content to be very interesting or eye-catching." 

    The key takeaway is to vary your content. Some sales posts are good, but the pages that thrive are constantly mixing up their content.
Grant's Supermarket

Grant's Supermarket, which has multiple locations in Virginia and West Virginia, has over 40,000 followers who are frequently engaged and sharing a laugh with their community grocer.

  • DO: Have a sense of humor. Teresa Davis, social media manager for Grant’s Supermarket, says that posting memes and other funny content gets plenty of activity from their followers.

  • DO: Pin most-searched content to the top of the page. With shoppers constantly on your social media pages, they're one step closer to check on your ads. Davis says she always pins the ads for Grant's Supermarket at the top of the page. 

  • DO: Respond in a timely manner. Social media accounts have become a new channel for customer support, so react and respond to all interactions received on your content to make your shoppers feel seen and heard.

  • DON'T: Offend. Davis says Grant's Supermarket tries to be positive and avoids any content that could be seen as offensive.

Screen Shot 2022-11-14 at 12.35.13 PM Grant's Supermarket has received plenty of engagement from its followers for its 20 Days of Giving. Customers who purchase a pre-made bag of groceries when they check out will help those in need.

Sprankle's Neighborhood Markets

Sprankle's Neighborhood Markets, a group of three stores in Pennsylvania, has nearly 30,000 followers on Facebook and for good reason. They post regularly and provide entertaining video content to get people sharing.

  • DO: Focus on Video. Sprankle's posts several videos promoting their store sales promotions with animated employees. What's not to love?
    Sprankle's videoSprankle's has coined their #SaveOnMeat hashtag through their entertaining videos and frequently hosts giveaways.

  • DO: Promote sweepstakes. Video is a great way to announce you're running a drawing or sweepstakes. Outline the rules in a simple post, and it could go viral! Announce your winner on social media as well, which provides more great content. And everyone who entered will want to see it.

  • DO: Post jobs! Your Facebook homepage is a great place for people to see that you have immediate openings. With the current state of labor, people need to know you're hiring through every channel possible.
Facebook is Still on Top

If they had to choose only one social media platform to use, Davis, Sterrett, and Wright all recommended Facebook. Sterrett notes that it is the "hub" for community conversation and where the majority of consumers look to find business hours, information, products, reviews, etc.

"It not only maintains its place as the most popular digital media platform around, but it has also been around the longest, allowing it to continuously grow new users," she says. "Several businesses will even rely on their Facebook Business Pages rather than having an actual website.” 

Where Can I Start?

For retailers who are feeling overwhelmed with starting their social media program by themselves, they can learn more about IGA’s social media programs. Managed by Red Oval partner AR Marketing, who manages a few hundred independent grocery stores' online presence including many IGA stores, the program has two options: IGA Social and IGA Social Plus.

Click here to get the details.

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