By Nick Johnson - May 26th, 2010
By way of an apology for my frankly inexcusable lack of posts, below is a short interview with Bill Tolany, Head of Integrated Media at Whole Foods Market. Bill is speaking with us in the run-u...
By way of an apology for my frankly inexcusable lack of posts, below is a short interview with Bill Tolany, Head of Integrated Media at Whole Foods Market.
Bill is speaking with us in the run-up to his presentation at the Corporate Social Media Summit, taking place on the 15th and 16th June in New York. For more information on the event, go to http://bit.ly/CSM10site
Give us a quick overview on how Whole Foods is using social media to enhance your marketing and communications
For us, social media is most effective when it is seamlessly integrated with all of our marketing and communications. Customers interact with us as one company, whether it’s in a store, by phone, email, a website, Facebook, Twitter, or something else. To them it’s just Whole Foods Market, and they don’t and shouldn’t care about the specific vehicle that enables the interaction.
So we don’t necessarily look at social media as an add-on or a way to enhance. It should all be part of the same communication.
What is your aim with Whole Foods’ social media strategy?
Whole Foods Market’s aim with social media is pretty simple – we want to be where our customers are. By meeting customers in ways that are convenient for them, we’ll increase the quantity and quality of our customer interactions, and hopefully improve our customers’ lives in some way.
What’s your opinion on the search for a $-based ROI on social media? Can it be achieved? How?
An ROI measurement on social media should be no harder to achieve than an ROI measurement on any other type of marketing and communications. The key is to set specific goals that are meaningful to you. When those goals are clearly defined, measurement can follow.
What’s the most successful piece of social-media based marketing/comms you’ve done? Why do you think it worked so well?
We’ve had good success with niche accounts (Twitter accounts like @WFMcheese, @WFMwineguys, and @wholerecipes, plus individual store and metro Twitter / Facebook accounts). I think these work because they reflect the operations of our company. Providing outstanding customer service and information at a very localized level is what we’re built to do in our stores, so doing that via social media is a natural extension.
What’s the one piece of advice you would give to a peer who has just been assigned responsibility for their company’s social media strategy?
Be yourself, as social media needs to reflect who the company is. And don’t overestimate what your company means to customers. Just because you think about your company 24/7 doesn’t mean everyone else does.
What’s next in corporate social media? Are there any interesting developments on the horizon?
I think the privacy backlash is just beginning. Providers like Facebook and Twitter have been dealing with the issue on their own, with varying levels of success. If more people start opting out due to privacy concerns, companies are going to have to get directly involved to push provider practices and transparency.