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CAC’s social media outreach enhances retail programs

Social media continues to evolve at a rapid pace, and the California Avocado Commission is taking full advantage of these new opportunities to reach consumers with targeted messages. CAC has expanded its social media efforts to fully support retailers with a variety of customer-specific programs and communications.

Jan-DeLyser-newJan DeLyserA key component of CAC’s social media program is providing timely content to retailers for their shopper outreach. Supermarket registered dietitians have been able to use this content, adapting and personalizing to fit their own communication styles. CAC also supports retailers by geo-targeting Facebook posts to provide information about California avocado availability in specific regions as well as to publicize local retailer events such as demos and cooking schools that encourage California avocado sales.

According to a 2012 study titled “U.S. Grocery Shoppers,” 28 percent of respondents said they use Facebook to gather and share information on food products, nutrition and recipes.

“The sweet spot of social media geo-targeting is the three-way intersection of CAC targeted social media outreach, consumer fans looking to buy California avocados and retailers who merchandise them and want to bring those shoppers into their stores,” Jan DeLyser, CAC vice president of marketing, said in a press release. “We approach this engagement the same way with foodservice operators who feature California avocados on their menus.”

The commission integrates social media with CAC marketing programs, both online and offline, to ensure consistency of message wherever the consumer may be and from whichever device they use. For example, the same key communication points of CAC’s traditional advertising campaign are part of the commission’s social media messaging.

Social media plays an integral part in promoting and engaging users around CAC’s themed promotions and co-marketing efforts such as CAC’s Wake up to Breakfast with California Avocados breakfast promotion, Cinco de Mayo, and the promotion with Naturipe Berries. CAC also recently launched a Fourth of July campaign, with a recipe contest, co-marketing recipe exchanges, tweets and posts.

“By integrating social media into our marketing communications we are able to add a much deeper level of engagement with our consumers,” said DeLyser. “We have had success with our integrated approach and find it to be much more effective than managing social media as an independent silo.”

California avocados now have more than 200,000 very enthusiastic Facebook fans engaging with our product and brand. More than 5,600 Twitter followers help promote CAC recipes and usage tips. CAC also uses Twitter to promote events and activities, both in advance of the events and with live coverage.

Newer social media for CAC include Pinterest, with more than 10,000 followers of the California avocados page. The top category of “pins” on Pinterest is Food & Drink, and 75 percent of respondents to a 2013 survey conducted by AllRecipe.com reported that the site inspired them to try new dishes. Importantly this social media outlet skews heavily to women and drives considerable traffic to the Commission website.

Instagram has been added to the CAC social media line-up and appeals to an expanded demographic. DeLyser calls it “a grand slam” that reaches a younger demographic, including more men, African Americans and Hispanics than Pinterest. CAC already has more than 7,800 followers on Instagram, which now has 100 million monthly active users.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

How social is your business?

Engaging your customers through social media can feel daunting.

It requires a steady stream of useful content, the will to involve customers more in your business, and the capacity to ask and respond to questions. And there’s always the pressure to be there, 24/7.

With responsibility devolved to Marketing or PR, a tempting option is to bring in outside help. Tech companies offer to automate content around the themes you want to cover. Agencies will run your social media presence for you.

But before rushing to automate or outsource, ask yourself why it’s called “social” media in the first place.

It enables people to interact, to share information, opinions, and emotions. People are social with people, not brands. If it were as simple as automation or outsourcing, then free customer service lines would be everybody’s best friend.

There are already numerous conversations between customers and employees going on in your stores every day. So why not make social media a business-wide enterprise, rather than the responsibility of a department?

Enable the employee who has got the content, to share the content. Enable the employee who knows the answer, to give the answer. And encourage your employees to spread the word through their own networks.

Of course, it’s not without risk. Any conversation can quickly reach hundreds or thousands of people, and unlike a simple conversation in-store it remains a permanent record. Sensible policies and practices need to be put in place. And it’s essential that you’ve first established a culture in your business that lives and breathes the brand, so your employees are natural ambassadors.

But think of the upside. Your customers and employees would be intermingling and engaging in multiple conversations beyond the store. Pretty much all of your employees would now be on the frontline.

It would certainly make your business more social. What do you think of the benefits and risks involved?

Simon Uwins is a former CMO of fresh&easy and Tesco UK, and author of Creating Loyal Brands (2014). Find him online at www.simonuwins.com.

Supermarket News

How social is your business?

Engaging your customers through social media can feel daunting.

It requires a steady stream of useful content, the will to involve customers more in your business, and the capacity to ask and respond to questions. And there’s always the pressure to be there, 24/7.

With responsibility devolved to Marketing or PR, a tempting option is to bring in outside help. Tech companies offer to automate content around the themes you want to cover. Agencies will run your social media presence for you.

But before rushing to automate or outsource, ask yourself why it’s called “social” media in the first place.

It enables people to interact, to share information, opinions, and emotions. People are social with people, not brands. If it were as simple as automation or outsourcing, then free customer service lines would be everybody’s best friend.

There are already numerous conversations between customers and employees going on in your stores every day. So why not make social media a business-wide enterprise, rather than the responsibility of a department?

Enable the employee who has got the content, to share the content. Enable the employee who knows the answer, to give the answer. And encourage your employees to spread the word through their own networks.

Of course, it’s not without risk. Any conversation can quickly reach hundreds or thousands of people, and unlike a simple conversation in-store it remains a permanent record. Sensible policies and practices need to be put in place. And it’s essential that you’ve first established a culture in your business that lives and breathes the brand, so your employees are natural ambassadors.

But think of the upside. Your customers and employees would be intermingling and engaging in multiple conversations beyond the store. Pretty much all of your employees would now be on the frontline.

It would certainly make your business more social. What do you think of the benefits and risks involved?

Simon Uwins is a former CMO of fresh&easy and Tesco UK, and author of Creating Loyal Brands (2014). Find him online at www.simonuwins.com.

Supermarket News

Use social media to strengthen loyalty

When I look at my social media feeds, I’m always struck by how many retailers treat it as just another marketing channel, to broadcast their latest promotions, products and the like.

Yet, the power of social media lies in its ability to connect and strengthen relationships — the “social” rather than the “media.” Approached this way, it can strengthen loyalty and encourage customers to spread the word for the brand.

For example, given people’s innate desire to socialize, why not use it to provide a place for customers to connect with each other under the umbrella of the brand? American Express’s OPEN Forum does this, enabling its small business cardholders to connect and help each other with business issues. The brand can take part, but more as the host of a party to get the conversation going, rather than doing all the talking. 

Then, what about using social media to involve customers in telling the brand story? With its Art of the Trench campaign, Burberry virtually re-invigorated its brand by encouraging customers to post pictures of themselves wearing its signature trench coat, which could then be commented on and shared.

And why not use it to make your customers feel special? Ask them for help in improving the brand. Starbucks did this to great effect with MyStarbucksIdea, again re-invigorating the brand in the process. Give customers a public platform to share their opinion, and if customers are doing great things recognize them.

But of course, the initial step must be to use social media to improve customer service, by providing timely and helpful responses to queries and complaints. Brands such as FedEx and JetBlue do a great job of this.

Given the importance of food in everyone’s lives, the opportunities to strengthen customer relationships through social media are endless.

What are your favorite examples? How have you used social media to strengthen loyalty for your brand?

Simon Uwins is a former CMO of fresh&easy and Tesco UK, and author of Creating Loyal Brands (2014). Find him online at www.simonuwins.com.

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Social media, grassroots, research propelled Atlanta openings: Sprouts

Connecting with consumers through social media, grassroots efforts and extensive research helped propel the entry of Sprouts Farmers Market into Atlanta, company officials told investors.

“What you saw in Atlanta was just a really hard push upfront through social media and grassroots to get our brand in there,” Doug Sanders, president and CEO, said.

“The level of consumer anticipation around these openings was far more than we had ever experienced in a new market, as evidenced by the 40,000 Facebook fans we amassed before opening our first store and the more than 1,000 customers that signed up for our pre-opening event in less than one hour.

“Obviously, being able to connect with that consumer via social media and then having our on-the-ground grassroots marketing team out there several months before a store opens has been very, very beneficial.”

Sanders said the company also benefitted from extensive research designed to understand the customer in the Southeast. “The local products we brought in really gained us a lot of credibility with that Atlanta customer,” he pointed out, “and we’re seeing the benefit of that within the initial numbers.”

Sales at the first two stores in Atlanta “have started off well above our expectations, with continued momentum past the opening week,” Sanders noted.

The Phoenix-based chain opened its first Atlanta-area store in the suburb of Snellville, Ga., in mid-June and opened a second store in Dunwoody a month later. It has scheduled openings in Peachtree Corners in mid-August and John’s Creek in mid-September, with up to 11 more Georgia stores planned.

Sanders said Sprouts plans to maintain a new-store growth rate of 14% a year, “but given the opportunity, we’d flex up to take advantage of an opportunity that came our way.”

Amin Maredia, the chain’s CFO and treasurer, said the company is exploring the possibility of taking over leases of other businesses that could be converted to supermarkets, “but we’re seeing very aggressive rates in certain parts of the country, so we just have to be patient and not get too aggressive because there are plenty of opportunities in the 10 states we’re currently in.”

Asked about the chain’s capital priorities, Maredia said investment priorities include new stores first, followed by sales initiatives and disciplined remodeling activity.

In response to a question, Maredia said Sprouts is looking at online models “because we do have some urban stores, but most of our stores are in suburbs and customer preferences there haven’t shifted as much as if you were in the middle of San Francisco or New York City.

“What our customer base is telling us today is online is not an investment priority. That doesn’t mean we won’t do tests to see how these models work, and if they add significant benefit to the business, we would expand on that.”

Although produce sales account for about 25% of total volume, James L. Nielsen, the chain’s COO, said consumers “are giving us more credit than just being a produce store. They are giving us credit for being a value-oriented grocery store.”

Nielsen also said Sprouts is focusing on “being really disciplined around the customer,” determining what they want from the standpoint of products, services and education. “We think we are good today but we continue to get better by listening to our customers, and we are spending a lot of time [figuring out] what is the next thing we want to achieve over the next several years to be even better.”

Supermarket News

How Health and Food Safety Risk Communicators Can Engage Social Media

“With the ubiquitous nature of social media in current society, health and food safety risk communicators should be taking advantage of these platforms to provide information and engage the public,” reads a recent article in the journal Perspectives in Public Health.

To help health information providers navigate social media, researchers at North Carolina State University reviewed current research on its use in public health settings and suggested frameworks for developing social media strategies.

The authors say it’s important for public health organizations to use sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in a collaborative way rather a one-way broadcast of information. Some studies have found that participation in lifestyle interventions corresponds with the level of participation in a Facebook group.

Social media can also be useful in responding to questions, creating events such as online chats, and engaging other organizations.

“Social media influences how individuals obtain information, and the amount of time spent on social media applications is rising at a rate three times faster than the increase of time spent on the Internet overall,” the authors say.

When it comes to frameworks for social media interaction, health promotion interventions delivered via the Internet can be more successful if they are based on theories of social and behavioral change like the theory of reasoned action/planned behavior.

Encouraging people to align with their peers through comment sections or competitions and sharing personal narratives are other helpful strategies.

Very little research has been done on the possible uses of social media in conveying risk related to foodborne illness, the authors say, but add that it could be used similarly to other areas of public health.

The article lists speed, accessibility and interactivity as the benefits of social media when raising awareness about an issue. However, lack of control in ensuring the accuracy of information and possible information overload are two of the pitfalls.

When government agencies, academics and companies try to engage the public on food safety via social media, the article states that real-time dialogue and communities where discussion is already happening are important to keep in mind.

And, more than anything else, the authors say that “establishing and maintaining trust remains at the core of successful social media engagement.”

Food Safety News

How Health and Food Safety Risk Communicators Can Engage Social Media

“With the ubiquitous nature of social media in current society, health and food safety risk communicators should be taking advantage of these platforms to provide information and engage the public,” reads a recent article in the journal Perspectives in Public Health.

To help health information providers navigate social media, researchers at North Carolina State University reviewed current research on its use in public health settings and suggested frameworks for developing social media strategies.

The authors say it’s important for public health organizations to use sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in a collaborative way rather a one-way broadcast of information. Some studies have found that participation in lifestyle interventions corresponds with the level of participation in a Facebook group.

Social media can also be useful in responding to questions, creating events such as online chats, and engaging other organizations.

“Social media influences how individuals obtain information, and the amount of time spent on social media applications is rising at a rate three times faster than the increase of time spent on the Internet overall,” the authors say.

When it comes to frameworks for social media interaction, health promotion interventions delivered via the Internet can be more successful if they are based on theories of social and behavioral change like the theory of reasoned action/planned behavior.

Encouraging people to align with their peers through comment sections or competitions and sharing personal narratives are other helpful strategies.

Very little research has been done on the possible uses of social media in conveying risk related to foodborne illness, the authors say, but add that it could be used similarly to other areas of public health.

The article lists speed, accessibility and interactivity as the benefits of social media when raising awareness about an issue. However, lack of control in ensuring the accuracy of information and possible information overload are two of the pitfalls.

When government agencies, academics and companies try to engage the public on food safety via social media, the article states that real-time dialogue and communities where discussion is already happening are important to keep in mind.

And, more than anything else, the authors say that “establishing and maintaining trust remains at the core of successful social media engagement.”

Food Safety News

How Health and Food Safety Risk Communicators Can Engage Social Media

“With the ubiquitous nature of social media in current society, health and food safety risk communicators should be taking advantage of these platforms to provide information and engage the public,” reads a recent article in the journal Perspectives in Public Health.

To help health information providers navigate social media, researchers at North Carolina State University reviewed current research on its use in public health settings and suggested frameworks for developing social media strategies.

The authors say it’s important for public health organizations to use sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in a collaborative way rather a one-way broadcast of information. Some studies have found that participation in lifestyle interventions corresponds with the level of participation in a Facebook group.

Social media can also be useful in responding to questions, creating events such as online chats, and engaging other organizations.

“Social media influences how individuals obtain information, and the amount of time spent on social media applications is rising at a rate three times faster than the increase of time spent on the Internet overall,” the authors say.

When it comes to frameworks for social media interaction, health promotion interventions delivered via the Internet can be more successful if they are based on theories of social and behavioral change like the theory of reasoned action/planned behavior.

Encouraging people to align with their peers through comment sections or competitions and sharing personal narratives are other helpful strategies.

Very little research has been done on the possible uses of social media in conveying risk related to foodborne illness, the authors say, but add that it could be used similarly to other areas of public health.

The article lists speed, accessibility and interactivity as the benefits of social media when raising awareness about an issue. However, lack of control in ensuring the accuracy of information and possible information overload are two of the pitfalls.

When government agencies, academics and companies try to engage the public on food safety via social media, the article states that real-time dialogue and communities where discussion is already happening are important to keep in mind.

And, more than anything else, the authors say that “establishing and maintaining trust remains at the core of successful social media engagement.”

Food Safety News

Turbana taps into community opinion to find new social program to support

25Klogo-copyCorporations often donate money to charities or non-profits, but it’s rare to find an organization that lets the consumer decide where their support should go. Turbana, a premier banana producer,  is taking its social movement “Growing Smiles, Sharing Goodness” to a new level by encouraging the community to speak up and choose causes close to their own hearts and homes.25kGroupPromo-copy The community cause that receives the most votes will win a $ 25,000 sponsorship, and Turbana will work with community members to instate a program that supports the cause.

Dubbed “Win 25K For Your Cause,” this interactive contest gives the community a chance to speak up, take action and have a big effect. The contest is fully housed within Turbana’s Facebook, and it is driven by consumer engagement, votes and shares throughout the period of July 1-Aug. 12. Consumers visiting the tab are invited to “tally” themselves into Turbana’s ongoing “Growing Smiles, Sharing Goodness” movement, which focuses on empowering individuals to do good for their communities. During the voting period, they can nominate a cause of their choice or vote for a cause that has already been nominated.

Since Turbana’s main focus is on inspiring healthier, happier communities, it’s only appropriate that the company takes on such an ambitious call-to-action. Born from a cooperative of farmers seeking a better standard of living, Turbana takes pride in empowering the communities in which it is present.

“Win 25K For Your Cause” will empower individuals to make a difference by bringing light to community organizations that need support, while simultaneously bringing about positive change in their local areas. Turbana aims to produce a snowball effect by using the company’s own enthusiasm and passion for community involvement to inspire individuals to participate in giving back to their communities across the nation.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Domex Superfresh Growers launches social media promotion for cherries

Domex Superfresh Growers, a global leader in the growing and shipping of fresh apples, pears, cherries and apricots, has launched a new photo sharing sweepstakes for cherries called Sweeten Up Your Summer.

Domex Superfresh Growers will offer a suite of in-store and online partnership opportunities including ready-to-post social content, pre-designed point-of-sale materials and co-sponsored #EATCHERRIES Twitter parties.DSG IpadHR-2-2

“Domex Superfresh Growers is focused on creating more meaningful consumer connections and building a more powerful social partnership with our retail partners both in-store and online with delicious fruit and great content,” Howard Nager, vice president of marketing Domex Superfresh Growers, said in a press release. “Through social promotions like Sweeten Up Your Summer driven by our proprietary consumer business intelligence tool we are fueling an active online dialog with our consumers, generating excitement for our categories and building a community of loyal fans. “

Sweeten Up Your Summer utilizes the Superfresh hashtag #EATCHERRIES and the company’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest social properties to connect cherries with fun summer activities and celebrate what consumers love about the beloved summer treat. The photo sharing sweepstakes will start June 15 and run through July.

To enter, consumers are asked to upload an original photo to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest showing off their favorite summer activity, like a picnic with the family, sporting event, outdoor barbecue, or their favorite way to eat sweet Superfresh cherries. The image caption should include the hashtag #EATCHERRIES and the company should be tagged @Superfreshgrowers.

Through a random drawing held in mid-August, three winners will be announced. One grand prize winner will receive $ 1,000, one first prize winner will receive $ 500 and one second prize winner shall receive $ 250.

Retailers who would like to find out more about Sweeten Up Your Summer and other potential partnership opportunities should contact Nager at hnager@superfreshgrowers.com.

Both customers and consumers can also now watch cherry, apple and pear video orchard updates located on the “Trade” section of the Superfresh Growers website at: http://superfreshgrowers.com/retailers/superfresh-news.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Retailers build excitement for summer on social media

Now that the weather is warming in most parts of the country, retailers are responding to the grateful collective sigh of consumers about summer. Supermarkets are promoting anything and everything summer related on Twitter. 

Jewel-Osco in Chicago, for instance, announced a planting events for kids late May through June. Kids will be able to leave with their own seedling.

MOM’s Organic Market, based in Rockville, Md., displayed some private label sun protection for those seasonal activities.

Last week, Giant Eagle’s Market District, gave a view of its barbecue station set up outside the store. Shoppers can purchase barbecue meat, baked potatoes, icead tea or bottled water.

Supermarket News

Get creative to engage shoppers with social media

Despite the widespread capabilities of the social web, supermarket shoppers so far seem very limited in how they use any of the platforms for any activities around purchasing or meal preparation. And the reason for that limited behavior may come from supermarket companies themselves.Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council research director Michael Sansolo

Responding to surveys in Part 8 of “Untangling the Social Web,” the new study from the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council of North America, shoppers clearly outlined their limits. In contrast to their activity elsewhere on the web, when it comes to supermarket shopping more than 80% engage in “taking” behavior — such as looking for coupons and specials. Only 20% create content, such as recipes or sharing meal ideas.

The cause of that limited activity is likely supermarket companies themselves, who so far have largely used Facebook and Twitter primarily to simply feature specials and coupons — promotions that have merely migrated from other forms of media.


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As Part 8 makes clear through its discussions with shoppers and industry insiders, greater use of social web capabilities will require greater creativity and activity by companies. Only then will shoppers recognize the benefits of engaging to a greater level and only then will companies likely find great results.

Shoppers specifically say that most of their interaction with food retailers is now focused on specials, coupons and specific items for recipes in response to what stores offer. Some of the areas that are currently lagging — that also present the potential for improved interaction — are lessons in how to cook or prepare specific foods, inspiration and ideas for special events, dietary and food trends and even positive experiences inside the stores themselves.

In order to match up with these desires, supermarkets operators may need to revaluate and broaden the content they currently offer and consider making use of more channels, including Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest. Improving the types of information offered could lead to shoppers in turn becoming more active in their postings on their store experiences.

Retailers involved in the design of the study will be participating in a special workshop June 12 at the FMI Connect Convention in Chicago. The study is available for free at www.ccrrc.org.

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The Lempert Report: Social shopping carts (video)

Amazon and Twitter have partnered on a unique blend of shopping and social media.

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The Lempert Report: Whole Foods exemplifies use of social media (video)

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Publix Has ‘Klout’ in Social Responsibility

What’s your favorite type of doughnut? How do you organize your grocery cart? What is your favorite flavor of deli chicken? While these may sound like mundane questions, shoppers overwhelmingly respond to them on Publix Super Markets’ Facebook page. These and other queries received several hundred Facebook comments, “likes” and “shares.” With each poll and posting, Publix makes a deeper online connection with its shoppers. “Consider this page …

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The social 75: Walmart dominates Facebook, Whole Foods wins Twitter

When it comes to social media, some members of the Top 75 perform much better than others.

The number one retailer on the list, Walmart, is also the number one retailer on Facebook, with 34.5 million fans or “likes” of its page. Target comes in second with 22.7 million “likes”, while 7-Eleven’s 3.1 million fans make it a distant third.

On Twitter, on the other hand, Whole Foods steals the show with 3.6 million followers. Target again takes second with 1 million followers, and Walmart trails with 444,000 followers. The number of followers per retailer drops off sharply after that. Number four, Wegmans, garners just 64,000.

“I think that what Whole Foods is doing is a reflection A, of who their brand is, what their brand is, which is they tie into people and they tie into the community and social media allows them to do that,” said Bill Bishop, chief architect of Brick Meets Click. “And secondly, it’s a major commitment, a willingness to make a major commitment to digital as a way to do that.”

“And so far I think it’s probably been net positive for them,” he added.

It’s worth noting that many individual Whole Foods stores maintain their own Twitter accounts, and some of those boast thousands of followers.

Whole Foods is also one of the few retailers to have more Twitter followers than Facebook fans, by a significant margin (it has 1.5 million Facebook “likes”). For most on the list, the opposite is true. Meijer, for example, has 1.1 million Facebook fans but only 26,000 Twitter followers.


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“Facebook has become almost pervasive among people who would kind of also be grocery shoppers,” said Bishop. “I am sure that seventy percent or more of all grocery shoppers in the United States are on Facebook. So it’s like the intersection of State and Main.”

Wegmans is another retailer that bucks the trend — because it doesn’t have a corporate Facebook page. However, some individual Wegmans stores have their own Facebook pages that have garnered more “likes” than other Top 75 members have for the entire chain.

Photo by Marisa Allegra Williams (@marisa) for Twitter, Inc.What is perhaps more confusing are the chains that eschew Twitter or Facebook (or both) altogether. Trader Joe’s has no official social media accounts, which has led to a plethora of unofficial handles. Costco has over 1 million Facebook fans but lacks an active Twitter account.

“For me one of the great strengths of retailers is they’re quite good executers,” said Bishop. “So they want to know what needs to be done. They want to be sure they have the staff to do it. So it kind of doesn’t come as a surprise that some of them are going, now let’s pick our platform and do a great job and we’re not going to mess around with the other ones right now.”

As for retailers like Trader Joe’s who stay away from social media completely, Bishop thinks it’s usually a question of if it will be worth it in terms of time and resources.

“I don’t know whether that was Trader Joe’s thought process but I can tell you, particularly for your medium-sized and smaller retailers, that’s still a fairly common response.”

2014 Top 75: Click here to access the Top 75 list, galleries and more

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Social Media Project Aims to Expand Food-Safety Dialogue

While taking an Instagram picture of that salad you’re about to eat, consider snapping one of the safety information on the menu or the waiter picking his nose, too. Or maybe photograph proper glove and thermometer use to cross-contamination and babies being changed on restaurant tables.

Ben Chapman, assistant professor and food-safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University, has launched the Citizen Food Safety project, which calls for anyone to post photos of good or bad food-safety practices to Twitter and Instagram with the tag #citizenfoodsafety. Chapman then collects the pictures at http://citizenfoodsafety.tumblr.com/.

“Lots of people get sick and lots of people are taking precautions — or missing chances — to reduce risks,” Chapman says. “With an estimated 48 million illnesses attributed to foodborne pathogens annually, I hope that the project increases the public discussion and attention related to food safety.”

The project officially started on Sept. 23 when Chapman posted about it on barfblog. So far, there are about 50 pictures on the blog, some of which Chapman has taken himself. He says that curating has been simple so far because of the small size of the collection and that he hopes to eventually categorize pictures based on risk and yuck factors.

Food and public-health voyeurism has been around for a while, Chapman says, adding, “The project became reality with the advent and improvement of smart phones and the rise of the interest in citizen science.”

In his post, Chapman references a 2005 program in South Korea that encouraged diners to take pictures of food-safety infractions in restaurants and submit them to health inspectors who could follow up and potentially fine the establishment. The United Kingdom since launched a similar program, and there have been multiple examples of pests in New York and Toronto shared online.

“Better dialogue around food safety isn’t just about awareness. It’s about increasing the value society puts on working towards producing foods in the safest way,” Chapman says. “More dialogue and more informed shoppers and eaters keeps pressure on everyone to do better.”

Food Safety News

Social Web Success: Big Tools for Small Retailers

In many ways the social web merely provides technology to accelerate the community and communication humans have always treasured. Instead of gathering around the fire or the water cooler — depending on what era of history you look at — people today gather on Facebook, Twitter or similar social sites.

Michael SansoloFor independent operators who have long made their mark by local presence and community service, this change brings a new series of needs. No longer is it enough to communicate through the local newspaper or other media. Today’s times require a social web presence.

One of the topics covered in “Untangling the Social Web,” a study unveiled earlier this year from the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council (CCRRC) of North America, is the challenge of building an internet presence, even for smaller operators. As the study details, many of the steps retailers can take are actually fairly simple, but the social web requires some new skills and new thinking.

Consider Pat Ptacek, a one-store IGA operator in Prescott, Wis. Through the social web Ptacek is able to give his shoppers reasons to connect personally or through the community at large.

For instance, this summer he ran messaging on Facebook about making great s’mores for July 4th. He also utilizes this platform to talk directly to the community needing gluten-free products with personal taste reviews of some new cakes and pizza dough.

Other small operators do similar events, using the social web to build those connections that were once only built in conversation. Anna Stewart at the Susanville, Calif., IGA used her store’s Facebook page to build up donations and community support for a new swimming pool in addition to sharingstore promotions, recipes and specials. As the store’s page explains, Susanville IGA is a unique place to shop “just like the community we serve.” The Facebook page serves to reinforce both.

But the social web can also allow a small operator to appear large. Ptacek has an upcoming promotion with Budweiser that will bring the famous Clydesdales to his store as he attempts to build a 150-foot-long, world-record brat.


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Based on the web traffic he’s already seeing, Ptacek expects the crowds at the store that day to dwarf the population of his hometown. He hopes the crowd will help him bring significant support and donations for a new public park. As Ptacek explains, he manages to do all these promotions at a low cost, simply by using the tools Facebook provides publicly.

He’s not alone. Many small operators looking for ways to track web traffic and discussion of their stores have found free or extremely inexpensive tools available on the web. For instance, HootSuite provides an array of choices allowing individuals or businesses to follow comments on a variety of social media sites. Other sites like Klout help businesses determine if their messages are getting shared and pass around the social web.

Key resources and tactical ideas like this are included in the CCRRC study to help companies of all sizes get a sense of how to best use the social web to tell the story of their company, their town and especially, their point of distinction.

It’s a lesson that’s invaluable for companies of all sizes, from one-store on up.

Click here for more information about “Untangling the Social Web.”

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