Reading: 5 Social Media Lessons Learned from Whole Foods

Whole FoodsThe article “5 Social Media Lessons Learned from Whole Foods” on Mashable has a number of useful strategies for direct sales companies who are considering a social media strategy.  What I find most interesting is the approach Whole Foods takes on both a corporate level, as well as how it empowers its local stores to participate.

Some learnings that apply to direct sales companies:

  • Individuals in the corporate office who use Twitter in their official capacity are empowered to use it however they are comfortable, within a few guidelines.  Some choose to share personal details, while others are strictly business.  This enables each individual to come across as authentic.
  • The way different social media tools are used by Whole Foods is interesting, and I think the approach is something that would work well for direct selling.  Twitter, for example, is mainly used for customer service.  Facebook, with its multimedia rich tools, is used for embedding video and providing longer content.  They also have a flickr page, corporate blog, videos on healthy cooking, and even a presence on Get Satisfaction, which is a customer feedback site.  Their approach is “go where your customers are.”  This is a good rule of thumb no matter what business you are in.
  • Whole Foods has a national approach at a corporate level, but is also mindful of the local level.  It empowers individual store owners, and even specific depts, to provide info of interest to local customers.  As direct sellers, we should consider how we can empower the sales force to work locally, while the company provides info of interest to a national or international audience.  We should also train the sales force to use social media tools to tap into each seller’s local market more fully.
  • As a smaller, non-tech company, Whole Foods is achieving success over its competitors by being bold with its approach.  While other companies are taking a wait and see approach, Whole Foods is diving in to social media, and seeing real success.
  • Participating in the conversation and allowing it to happen, even when that conversation is negative, provides value in the long run.  You must be aware of what is being said about your company online, so you can address issues as needed.

I think the Whole Foods model definitely has elements that will work for direct sales companies, and is something that should be closely observed as direct selling companies put their social media marketing plans into place.

What do you think?  Have you tried any of these strategies with your company?  Has something else worked?  Would love to read your comments below!

Photo Credit: adam*b

http://mashable.com/2009/08/25/whole-foods/
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