As the supermarket industry strives to effectively leverage the power of social media, the final installments from a topical study by The Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council (CCRRC) offer detailed rules of engagement to develop strategies and action plans to address internal and external audiences.
The final two reports from the CCRRC study, “Untangling the Social Web: Insights for Users, Brands and Retailers,” are available to download at no charge here. Part 6 addresses how to develop an external social web strategy and Part 7 covers how to develop an internal social web strategy.
“The medium has grown so quickly, leaving some marketers overwhelmed and uncertain where to start,” says Michael Sansolo, research director, CCRRC North America.
The reports provide ideas to marshal organizational support from reluctant executives who may not understand the potential value this approach can deliver to a brand.
“Interestingly, lack of understanding by C-level leaders—not money—often is the greatest inhibitor to success,” says Sansolo.
Among the highlights from Part 6, which addresses external audiences:
• Know yourself. Before engaging, establish a focus. Know what you want to say to the world about your product/service and company;
• You don’t have to be everywhere. The social web presents a monumental number of opportunities. Focus on the outlet(s) that make the most sense for your brand, as well as your customers and prospects; amd
• Determine how to measure success. This novel environment enables different ways to influence target audiences and requires new methods of evaluation. The CCRRC report provides ideas for consideration.
Key takeaways from Part 7 help retailers design internal social media strategies:
• Eliminate corporate-speak. Communicate in a conversational tone;
• Encourage interactive exchanges. An honest environment leads to a supportive community. Respond swiftly and effectively—even to negative comments—to turn internal staff into company champions; and
• Know that you’re entering the Wild, Wild West. Rules are few and far between. However, it is possible to create structure and guidelines for this fluid space.
“The social web has become a transformative force in our society,” says Sansolo. “It grew quickly to encompass billions of active participants within years of its creation. Not only are the numbers incredible, but it has completely changed communications, giving every individual equal power.”
When CCRRC North America began exploring this topic two-and-a-half years ago, “there was a black hole of information,” Sansolo says. “No one knew what direction to take. The seven reports the council has issued have helped educate industry leaders and change that dynamic. The last two installments deliver meaningful, actionable plans to help retailers execute effective strategies and plans.”
Established in 1978, the CCRRC is dedicated to understanding and developing practical responses to strategic challenges experienced by the grocery industry and its operators. The council serves as an authentic and comprehensive “voice of the customer.” Its membership is composed of 18 visionary executives involved in the grocery industry throughout North America. They represent a variety of retailers, ranging from small independent operators to the nation’s largest chains. The group oversees research initiatives conducted by independent third parties on issues of strategic importance to grocers. As a result, CCRRC generates ideas and solutions by retailers, for retailers.
As part of its commitment to help customers drive their business forward and to expand knowledge in the retail community, The Coca-Cola Co. sponsors CCRRC as well as five additional retailing research councils around the globe. It is distinguished as the only consumer packaged goods company in the retail sector investing in this manner, according to a news release.