One of my favorite grocery stores to shop at is Trader Joes, but I wish they engaged in more social media interaction. I love their fresh produce, amazing variety and selection of alternative foods, and friendly customer service. Though Trader Joes is currently the 21st largest grocery chain, with 294 stores and $4.3 billion in sales, they’re rated the 4th healthiest grocery store in America. Trader Joe’s needs to take their rising business, and strong following, and nurture it with the support of social media interaction. By listening, connecting, and responding to their loyal customer base they have the opportunity to be one of America’s best.
Trader Joe’s has a lot of buzz among some big time bloggers. Freakonomics blogger Stephen J. Dubner, marketing sensation Seth Godin, and Slate blogger Andy Bowers. They also have a Trader Joe’s Fan site, sites dedicated to featuring Trader Joe’s products (like their Gingerbread House kits and Quesadillas), sites that cook recipes only with Trader Joe’s products (this one makes a tasty Vegetarian Mushroom Moussaka), a Trader Joe’s Flickr Account, and the world famous un-official Trader Joe’s Commercial.
Unfortunately, Trader Joe’s didn’t create anything that I listed above. Instead Trader Joe’s has chosen to interact and respond with these bloggers and customers, through a pitiful Trader Joe’s Twitter account.
This entirely unbranded and automated-esque Twitter account needs a Twitter strategy and focus. Instead of interacting with customers the Twitter account appears to show any and every tweet that mentions Trader Joes. I would take a page out of Erin Groner’s book and try and replicate what: @WholeFoods, @ScottMonty (Ford), @LindsayLebresco (Graco), @MarriottIntl, @Wachovia, @DIRECTV, @CarnivalCruise, @Chargers, or @BestBuyRemix has done.
Moving beyond the Twitter scope, Trader Joes needs to apply David Armano’s suggestions across any social media platform they engage in: Listen, Learn, Adapt, and Respond. I’m not going to state Trader Joes needs a Facebook, Myspace, or any other specific social media platform. Maybe Trader Joe’s should create their own customized social media community using Ning or Kickapps?
Traditionally, Trader Joes has sat back and let their products do the talking. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever come across a Trader Joes advertisement! Word of mouth is the most commonly used form of advertisement and Trader Joes has been utilizing it perfectly. Given the volume of support and free press, Trader Joes needs to start engaging with social media. Trader Joes will then need to move beyond social media engagement, and actually provide value to the conversation, to make their social media use successful. Social media interaction be as cost sensitive as word of mouth advertisement, yet have a greater impact because of its viral nature. Hopefully Trader Joes will catch this disease soon.