Should Your Store Be Instagramming?

Should Your Store Be Instagramming?

October 8, 2014

A number of supermarket chains have been slow adapters when it comes to social media.’s 2014 supermarket Twitter study found that, while chains like Whole Foods, Walmart, and Target were using the platform to communicate with customers, share recipes, advertise specials and operate a sort of online customer service department, others like Trader Joes weren’t.  

With Millennials actively ditching Facebook and shifting their focus to Instagram, it makes sense that a grocery chain with a predominantly young clientele (or wanting to attract younger customers) would be interested in what the platform has to offer.

Enter Whole Foods, which true to form has found new and unique ways to promote its brand and build business using social media. Take @The_Pizza_Series. It’s an Instagram handle started by a Whole Foods Market pizza chef, to showcase “what I love doing for work — making pizza.” Whole Foods took notice and featured Matt on its Instagram account, which boasts more than 250,000 followers. Their caption? “Rock the toss! Meet @the_pizza_series from our Campbell, CA store. #pizza”

Of course, the bulk of Whole Foods’ Instagram photos feature food — dishes created from ingredients sold at Whole Foods utilizing movers and shakers in the food and nutrition industries. A photo posted recently of a scoop of vegan pistachio ice cream was made with Whole Foods’ 365 brand full-fat coconut milk and taken by @HealthyJulie, a Board certified Health Coach and Plant-Based Chef, according to her Instagram bio. Another photo showcases “#DairyFree #Shrimp Jalapeño Poppers” and lists the special pricing for shrimp at Whole Foods locations across the country.

Take note: What Whole Foods is doing on Instagram isn’t reinventing the wheel — they’re simply tapping into a demographic that often goes ignored by the vast majority of supermarket chains —young people. Instead of courting customers with coupons and in store specials, Whole Foods is continuing with an approach that first noted in an article praising the chain’s social media dominance back in 2009, before Instagram even existed. 

The article noted that while Whole Foods was a nationwide chain, its social media approach was focused on local. Individual stores are encouraged to create their own accounts to promote events, communicate with customers, and spotlight employees. 

Today, Instagram allows Whole Foods to tell its story through pictures and it’s doing just that.  Visual storytelling is incredibly important when it comes to promoting your health and wellness initiatives and bringing better-for-you eating to life.

Here are tips from observing Whole Foods on social media. 

  • It’s not always about the product. Tell your store’s story in a way that requires thinking outside the box. Nobody wants to see a bunch of posts about sales on eggs and produce. Give your shoppers a reason they don’t want to miss that involves what’s on's health benefits, unique nutrition profile, or a recipe. Or spotlight a healthy mom shopper with her recipe and items to purchase in-store. This is a great way to build community in and out of the store. 
  • Stay relevant. Stores can post information of relevance to locals that might intrigue customers from outside the area. Whether it’s a local event, store tastings, a new healthy prepared foods dish, or locally sourced items, you never know what followers are going to respond to.
  • Be active. Whole Foods posts on social media multiple times throughout the day. Set a routine and follow it.  
  • Have fun.Whole Foods posts are never boring. It’s information you’d be interested in seeing even if you weren’t a customer. Social media is an excellent opportunity to build and project the personality of your store/retailer...and you, of course.  Use this to your advantage to make health and wellness fun and inspiring.

Taking tips from stores that are doing it right and adding your own flare is the way to go. See how shoppers are responding to your posts and what types of posts are most popular, all stores and shoppers are different so there is not a one size fits all approach here.