How Grocery Stores Can Benefit From a Social Media Strategy

Tara Clark

By Tara Clark, founder and CEO of Social T.

Social media provides a wealth of opportunities for brand awareness, connecting with the community and driving sales. According to a special COVID-19 edition of The CMO Survey, social media became critical to marketing during the pandemic, and this is likely to continue as we navigate our “new normal”.

As any marketing expert can tell you, there is no one-size-fits-all method to being effective in social media marketing. Each business’ success depends on the size of its internal marketing team, the team’s knowledge of social media, and its goals.

With this in mind, how should grocery stores utilize social media to effectively sell their products, grow their brand and establish a loyal customer base? The answer is simple: a strategy.

A social media strategy is a plan or outline of what you would like to achieve with social media, and what you’ll need to get there. Here are six ways grocery stores can benefit from having a social media strategy in place, even amidst a turbulent business climate.

It saves you time

It’s no secret that social media can be time-consuming. This is especially true if you don’t have an established marketing team and are delegating social media to individuals within your organization.

No matter who is responsible for social media management, you want their time and effort to be spent wisely. A strategy provides structure and a tangible action plan that keeps you on track and mitigates burnout and overwhelm.

It gives you a place to start

Most businesses are aware of the benefits of social media but are overwhelmed by the process and unsure where to begin. Common questions I hear from retail organizations about establishing an online presence are:

  • How many platforms should we be on?
  • Which platforms are right for our type of business?
  • How often should we post?

These are all valid queries that strategy-building can answer right from the start. A social media strategy acts as the springboard for your overall efforts and provides you with a solid foundation to get you started.

Whether you’re a smaller grocery retailer looking to connect more with the community, or a larger chain that wants to attract new brands and customers, a strategy also provides clarity on your overall goals, so you feel confident on your trajectory.

It provides continuous content

You may have solid objectives in place, but creating high-quality, value-driven posts is what will ultimately bring you success. As the saying goes, content is king.

A common pain point for many businesses is not knowing what to post, and how often. An effective social media strategy includes an editorial content calendar mapping out your posts in advance. Not only will you never run out of ideas, but you’ll also avoid posting aimlessly.

These days, content planning has become more important than ever. Recent trends indicate that audiences are resonating with human-focused and community-centric posts. This is where strategy comes in handy; It provides a roadmap on what your target audience is looking for, so your content always provides value.

When planning social media posts for your grocery business, utilize content “pillars” or categories to make things simpler. When in doubt, just remember that every post should educate, entertain or inspire your audience in some way. Some popular and effective content pillars for grocery stores are:

  • Newsworthy posts (in-store promotions, new products, company news, etc.)
  • Recipes (made with various brands sold in the store)
  • New brand spotlights
  • Community-focused content (posts about your team, local events, etc.)

It helps you target the right audience

According to research done by AdWeek and Sprout Social, 81 per cent of consumers do online research before making a purchase, and 21 per cent of consumers are more likely to buy from brands they can reach on social media.

A social media strategy contains details about your target market and demographics you can refer back to at any time, as you continuously plan your content.

For example, your grocery store’s strategy might include popular purchasing trends and a general customer profile that will help you create the right posts for your particular local audience. Even if you’re part of a larger chain of stores, knowing these unique demographics can help you attract loyal, repeat customers.

It outlines social media best practices

Getting audiences to actually discover your social media feeds comes down to following a few time-tested best practices. These include the timing and frequency of your posts, hashtags, copy, visible links and strong visuals.

Strategy-building covers all the bases when it comes to best practices, so every post receives maximum reach. Even if you’re a seasoned grocery store chain, digital trends grow and evolve so rapidly that it can be difficult to keep up if you don’t have these marketing techniques mapped out and readily available.

It provides an opportunity to analyze your efforts and improve

Data analysis is a fundamental part of social media marketing. An effective social media strategy will include metrics to help you track and measure your progress so you know exactly where to improve.

When building your social media strategy, include desired KPIs and reporting periods based on your goals, such as follower growth, engagement, post interactions and more.

There you have it! Crises may come and go, but a solid social media strategy will provide you with the tools (and the confidence!) to handle even the most rapidly evolving business landscape. That way, you can increase brand awareness, build community, grow website traffic, and drive in-store and online sales.

Tara Clark is the founder and CEO of Social T., a Vancouver-based social media agency with a decade of experience working with food & beverage brands. Social T. provides strategy-focused social media services and has worked with the BC Blueberry Council, Natural Products Canada, the Canadian Health Food Association and JAK’s spirits.

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