This week, I attended BlogWell Bay Area, an event from SocialMedia.Org featuring eight social media savvy brands sharing case studies from their social media programs. Almost all of the presentations focused heavily on content, a common theme in all social media and community circles right now. The presentation from Whole Foods Market's Natanya Anderson, Director of Social Media and Digital Marketing focused on how Whole Foods balances its overall brand social media with each market's local efforts. The way they bring everything together is deeply rooted in community. Here are some of the points that stood out to me: 

  • Know your roots. A hyperlocal, community atmosphere was deeply ingrained in the company culture from the start, making local marketing incorporation an easy fit. Everything you build has to be for your community. 
  • Consider the operational realities. Adding social media to the roster of what store managers are tasked with isn't always met with rainbows and unicorns. Pictures of the in-store set ups work well on local social media, but store associates aren't allowed to have phones on the sales floor. Think about the impediments facing your community and try to provide solutions. 
  • Support is essential. Whole Foods has a regional Social Media Specialist to guide each region's markets with local strategies. They even know where to nurture their talent: one of the regional specialists started as the associate who was most passionate about social media in her store. The people who know your community best are the ones who are already in your community. 
  • Culture eats strategy for lunch. Whole Foods found that campaigns that did exceedingly well on a brand level sometimes failed on a local level and vice versa. It was about what people looked to the brand for (inspiration, aspiration, information) and what they looked to the local level for (product information, events, promotions). You can plan and implement and plan some more, but if you're fighting against the ingrained culture in your community, you will fail. 

A video of Natanya's great talk will be posted on the BlogWell page soon. Until then, check out the liveblog from the presentation. 

(Image: Whole Foods | Austin, TX, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from austins_only_paper's photostream)

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