By: Kelli Windsor, Manager for Member and Digital Communications, Food Marketing Institute
Social Media Engagement

In our series interviewing food retail social media managers we’ve gotten a better idea of the day-to-day operations of these brand managers and storytellers. We’ve also seen how social media is being used creatively by grocery stores.  But how are grocery stores using social media overall and what benefits, if any, are they seeing from it?

The Food Retail Industry Speaks 2015 report tells us a bit about how the industry is using social media. In looking at the advertising budgets of food retailers, the majority of resources are still being dedicated to traditional marketing avenues such as newspaper ads, mailings and television. About 11.7 percent of food retail advertising budgets are dedicated to website, social media, mobile marketing and e-mail. More than three out of four food retailers have been using social media for six months or more. All these facts indicate that the industry is still in the beginning stages of using digital communications and social media; therefore, maintaining a mixed portfolio of marketing channels.

In looking specifically at the social media channels food retailers are using, Facebook, website, Twitter and e-mail rank in the top four. Interestingly, more emerging digital communications and social media channels like texting and Instagram rank last, but hold potential for direct customer engagement and better connections with millennials.  

The majority of food retailers (55 percent) are managing social media in-house. However, large amount (37.5 percent) continues to have a combination of in-house and outsourced social media management. This indicates that some in the industry are still testing the waters on social media before fully investing.

The top two benefits of social media listed by food retailers include generating exposure for the company areas (76.3 percent) and generating new traffic through coupons or contests (42.1 percent). Interestingly, only 28.6 percent of food retailers report using social media to communicate product recalls to customers. Instead, they more often utilize store shelf signage (68.6 percent) or other methods. 

While grocery stores are using and investing in social media, there is still more to learn and discover about the power of social media for grocery stores. Here at FMI, we’re undergoing the same learning process. We’ve been researching and discovering just who exactly our social media followers are and what content is most engaging to them. Our recent Community Outreach Awards Facebook Contest was a way for our industry to celebrate the good grocers do for local communities through social media.

See our post Grocery Stores Explore More Social Media and Digital Advertising for an update and research findings from 2017. 

Do you manage your food retail organization’s social media and want to take part in the series? E-mail Kelli Windsor.

Photos courtesy of and copyright Free Range Stock - Jack Moreh