How Whole Foods Focuses on Customer Needs to Succeed in Social Media

Natanya Anderson, Global Director of Social Media, CRM, and Customer Service at Whole Foods, joins the Social Pros Podcast this week to discuss the customer as a business stakeholder, the importance of enabling instead of governing, and the future of connectivity in the digital world.

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Full Episode Details

How Social Matches Company Culture

Natanya Anderson has a lot on her plate as the Global Director of not just Social Media, but also CRM and Customer Service at Whole Foods. Given the responsibilities that come with working at a huge company like Whole Foods, it might seem like Natanya would have a giant team at her beck and call. But being small and nimble at the brand level is actually the best way for the Whole Foods team to support the individual teams at the regional and local store level.

Whole Foods’ business model revolves around the individuality of their stores. There is no set footprint for store layout or a list of products every store has. Each store has its own unique story to tell, and the Whole Foods social media strategy is a direct reflection of that bigger strategy.

There is marketing capacity in every single store. One person might wear many hats (social, community outreach, and event planning, for example), but the resources and staff are put into place for each store to have its own unique social media channel(s).

Natanya’s team supports the 843 (and counting) Whole Foods social accounts from its regional marketing teams and local stores.Whole Foods Market

When asked how Natanya governs so many individual marketing efforts, she responded, “We don’t govern, we enable.” (highlight to tweet)

Another part of Whole Foods’ culture is providing the right tools and the right information in employees’ hands to allow and entrust them to make the right decisions on their own. They celebrate what’s working well while also providing the resources to improve what’s done on the day-to-day.

“We do our best to bring data into our business in a way that’s actionable and digestible.”

It Always Comes Back to the Customer

Perhaps the most important part of Whole Foods’ company culture that directly informs Natanya and her vast web of social media marketers is the idea that everything centers around the customer. It informs the content they post and the way they measure KPIs. And it’s the reason Natanya was drawn to working at Whole Foods in the first place. She saw that Whole Foods understands that you need to give first before you can get. 

“All other things being equal, if you make someone smarter, they will have a preference for your brand. They will most likely buy more often, more quickly, and typically with a larger ticket price.”

Whole Foods is playing the long game and includes customers as stakeholders in their company, rather than just shareholders. When Natanya and her team create content, they ask themselves, “How do we make our customers more able to meet their own personal goals?”

For KPIs at the local level, there are only so many resources to be had, so the main focus is on engagement. At the brand level, Natanya and her team are excited to dig into measuring Share of Voice, sentiment, and the direct effect of social media on sales. But no matter how far they get in figuring out those metrics, engagement will always be important, because “engagement is a function of connection to the customer.”

See you next week!

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