ATLANTA — The Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council on Monday published the final installment of its five-part report on social media, which suggested that grocery marketers significantly can leverage any social media participation by simply responding to tweets on Twitter and exploring the potential of professional networking site LinkedIn, where activity has been supercharged by the recession.
“The explosive growth of social networking seems to have caught much of the marketing world by surprise,” stated Michael Sansolo, research director at CCRRC of North America. “In one survey, we found nearly 70% of supermarket chief marketing officers state they feel unprepared to integrate social media into their marketing mix.” The key dilemma? Lack of a starting point.
“This report provides ideas about where to begin and how to gain traction using social media tools,” said Craig Elston, SVP for The Integer Group, the shopper marketing agency that conducted the study. “It’s vital for the supermarket industry to engage because their customers spend significant time talking about shopping experiences, stores and products on social media platforms.” In fact, the research revealed that food is one of the top subjects of discussion among social Web users.
“Customers hope and expect that companies are paying attention, and responses are welcome," Sansolo noted. "Independent data reveals that more than 80% of people who complained about an experience via Twitter expected to hear back from the company, and 75% of those who received a response were satisfied.”
The report also examined how social networking is changing the workplace, especially recruiting. The nation’s recession has played a significant role in boosting activity of professional networking sites.
“In 2008 after five years online, LinkedIn had about 32 million users, which paled in comparison to Facebook,” Sansolo noted. “By early 2012, after more than three years of economic challenges, LinkedIn’s population jumped to 130 million, a gain of more than 400%. The number continues to grow by adding two professionals every second.”
Companies report a strong increase in their use of social networking sites and websites for recruiting, while also predicting a sharp reduction in campus recruiting, job board and third-party recruiters. Job hunters recognize this change and are increasing their use of social networking sites to seek employment opportunities.
The CCRRC report also examined questions companies must ask as they begin marketing on the social Web, especially as they try to project their core values.
“Merely providing coupons or specials is not enough,” Sansolo said. “The social web demands something deeper and provides an ideal venue to listen to and understand consumers, to participate in their discussions and to create places for them to gather and build loyalty.” As companies begin interaction, price is only a piece of this strategy. Some businesses find ways to build interest by creating specific triggers, such as time-sensitive offers, sweepstakes or limited supplies, to drive rapid responses.
The study, titled “Untangling the Social Web: Insights for Users, Brands and Retailers,” is available here.