Our next “Brand in Focus” puts Whole Foods’ branding and digital marketing efforts under the microscope. The grocer has been growing here on the east coast and caught my eye over the past few months with its paid advertising efforts on Twitter and Facebook, announcing the grand opening of a new store in Marlboro, NJ. Digging into the company’s digital efforts there are a number of highlights and positives that caught my attention.
First, WholeFoodsMarket.com promotes its efforts across a number of social media sites, all of which we will tackle here. The landing page appeals to the eye with big, bold images scrolling behind the links. When you rollover the text on the left hand sidebar (below) you find a number of links to go to.
Scrolling down on the home page you find several ecommerce vehicles, the promotion of some of their social media efforts, and a push towards their mobile – recipes app. I looked into downloading the app and quickly found that it is only available on iOS and not on Android.
Getting over the fact that Whole Foods doesn’t have an app in Google’s Play market, let’s take a look at the brand’s efforts across social media platforms. At the time of this write-up, Whole Foods sees its largest following on Twitter, with slightly under 4 million followers. The company has almost 1.6 million Likes on Facebook. Across both visual / image-driven sites (Instagram and Pinterest), the grocer has ~200K followers on each. Finally, on Google’s platforms, Whole Foods has over 80K followers on Google+ and 18K subscribers to its YouTube station.
Here is a review of Whole Foods’ efforts on each platform:
Whole Foods again has a catchy visual as their banner picture on their Twitter page, along with the company’s logo as its default image, which is good for branding given the number of tweets the company is sending out on a daily basis.
Excluding holidays where the company is not tweeting (and that’s a good thing in my opinion), the Whole Foods Twitter feed sends out about 10 tweets per day. What caught my attention is the branding that is used in their hashtags. Most tweets that include a hashtag start with “#WFM” and it carries across topics such as “Dish” and “Wine” below.
The vast majority of links that the Twitter feed sends out reverts back to the company’s web site. They do a tremendous job of bringing their fans back to their own, highly engaging web site.
As mentioned above, what really brought my attention to Whole Foods was their targeted advertising campaign on Twitter – where their paid/promoted tweets wound up within my news feed, announcing the forthcoming grand opening of their new store in Marlboro, NJ. That was a good, albeit easy, use of targeting a particular message on the Twitter ad platform.
With an audience of about 1.6 million, Whole Foods does a great job of bringing visualization to its Facebook page – with connections/links to its Instagram and Pinterest accounts right on the main page. In the image below you’ll see the hashtag call out, which looks to be a seasonal update or change based on the calendar. One item that did catch my attention vs. other brands we have put under the radar is that Whole Foods does not put as much detail into their history on the far right, jumping from their “founded” date to 2008.
The level of engagement Whole Foods sees on “regular” status updates (always with a picture/visual) is fair, with a couple hundred Likes and double digit shares. However, I noticed that when they posted a deal/sale, it was shared almost one thousand times and liked by 12K+ people …
Similar to what the company does with their Twitter accounts, they let each Whole Foods store create their own Facebook page. One of the local stores here has their own page with over 10K likes.
Whole Foods has the seamless transition over to Instagram from their Facebook page. Over 200K are following the retailer on the picture and video sharing network. On average, Whole Foods looks to upload one picture per day, so it isn’t or doesn’t become overbearing for its followers. What I like about the feed is that it isn’t always about food or their store, there are pictures that cover off on a healthy lifestyle, exercising, etc.
It looks like back in April of this year they ran a promotional effort (#FrantiTakeover) on the network for Earth Week. Again, a campaign or promotion that isn’t all about the brand, but extending itself in a way that stays within the brand’s overall image.
Whole Foods does a great job on the visual storyboard network, currently with 60 different boards across a bevy of different topics. It wasn’t until the Pinterest page that I finally got the “Whole Foods story” in their description at the top of the page – started in Austin, TX as one store and now a leader with over 340 in North America.
The image covers for each of their boards is colorful and appealing to the eye. They are centered correctly and there is enough of a contrast from board to board that grabs your attention as you scroll through their home page.
Don’t think for a second we won’t be watching their Thanksgiving boards in our efforts to #SaveThanksgiving in the coming months. This is just one of the boards that have been created for the holiday, which integrates their #FoodThanks hashtag campaign and is a group board that allows other Pinners to add their own images.
A few items caught my attention on the Whole Foods G+ page. First, many of the posts were the same as their Facebook page, verbatim. While you can certainly post the same information, it felt like it was a copy paste from one network to the other and given the overall audience size, I would assume it goes from Facebook over to Google+.
However, I did like the in-depth “Story” that they provide on Google+ which includes their mission statement centering on “Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet”. Pictures that have been uploaded to G+ are unique to the site. There is also a seamless connection to the company’s YouTube page … however, the G+ page links to the incorrect YouTube page.
The correct Whole Foods YouTube page has over 18K subscribers. However, the link off of the G+ page connects to a different Whole Foods YouTube page that has several Hangouts from a number of months ago. Focusing on the right page, Whole Foods brings a unique cover photo to YouTube and breaks down their videos into various categories, including recipes, local stories, and several others. The company has made the effort to create playlists for its subscribers so that if you have a particular interest, you can go in and watch the group of videos on the same subject.
Whole Foods also connects subscribers to 8 other featured YouTube channels. This immediately felt like some good, old “brandscaping” efforts between Whole Foods and others.
Whole Foods has caught the attention of many across social media and does a very good job of creating unique content across a lot of different mediums. They are on top of the latest features rolled out by each network and do a great job of creating visually stimulating posts and updates. Aside from that little snafu on the link from G+ to YouTube, Whole Foods gets an A for their digital marketing efforts!
What is your opinion of Whole Foods’ branding and digital marketing strategy across each network? Is there one network that you particularly follow them on or like their efforts more on? If so, why? Let us know in the Comments section below.