A Woolworths Social Media Case Study
Author: Benjamin Zubreckyj
Social Media Liaison: Nicholas Scott
Perhaps the greatest utility of social media marketing is the ability to connect with more people, with less effort than ever before…and, with respect to enterprise, we have Ms Donoghue’s famous, torts-bending, ginger-loving snail to thank…as, not since the landmark common law case have consumers felt so connected to corporations, and the companies themselves; so vulnerable to the whims, opinions and complaints from the public.
With nearly A$60bn in revenue in 2018, Woolworths is both Australia’s largest supermarket and retailer. But they also have nearly 7% of the Australian population following them on Facebook. And, with 872 locations across Australia, an incredible 91% of Australians live within 10km of a store. Its eCommerce footprint is damned impressive as well…
Netbase Chief Marketing Officer, Paige Leidig, recently stated: “Social media is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but should play an integral part in every business and marketing strategy.”
But, Woolworths’ success on social media is no accident, and serves as a great example of just how powerful controlling your image on a mass scale can be- So, let’s take a look at some of the genius ways in which Woolworths harnesses the far-reaching powers of social media to its benefit:
Turn negative comments into marketing gold.
Never was there more fertile ground for negativity and ignorance than an internet comment thread. And Lord knows, we’ve all found ourselves down a YouTube rabbit hole at 3 am, watching videos on the 2012 Yak Skiing championships, to see the first comment from user n00b_44 giving his verbose, nuanced input: ‘dis boring :(‘.
Point is, we don’t always see the best versions of people online, and social media pages for enterprise corporations have evolved into, among many other things, proxy complaint departments.
More recently, in response to backlash around the company’s excessive use of plastic packaging and plastic product output in general, Woolworths struck genius again. As reported in 7 news Australia:
“ Woolworths’ huge announcement is off the back of a huge consumer push – for the major supermarkets to bring out an environmentally-friendly promotion similar to Little Gardens in New Zealand.“
The response on social media has been astonishing, with many posts congratulating Woolworth’s on the move (see below). This alone shows that, although social media has a distinct attribution problem, immediate interaction with your customers can do wonders for shaping a decidedly positive, valuable and long-lasting brand identity.
User-generated content transforms customers into advocates.
User-generated content is all about sharing photos and posts that your customers have created for you. It makes your own content planning much easier and can play a large role in creating a compelling social strategy. Basically; Dad asks you to mow the lawn, you get your little brother to do it, and still get your pocket money!
This is because user-generated content helps to really engage and build a community around a brand. People are happy and excited to share photos of their products if they think the business might see it, and especially if they might share it. (
This helps your business’s marketing strategy in a multitude of ways, as you’re not having to create as many assets, take as many photos or spend as much time on content creation when your customers are doing that for you. Second of all, you’re interacting with your customers on a personal level when you share their photo on your business’s feed.
What a difference a little humour makes.
We all love some good brand humour – And, when it comes to creating a successful Twitter presence for your business, it’s imperative to insert some personality into your tweeting. With only 280 characters per post, you have to give each one as much punch as you’ve got.(
Santa and his reindeer will love these! ???? pic.twitter.com/1sMKwKxCbS— Woolworths (@woolworths) December 20, 2017
Incorporating humour into your strategy can help give your brand a more human side which is always refreshing to customers in this ever-growing technological world. This can really benefit your brand as it helps you build a connection with the online community.
When your humour is relevant to everyday human pains, current trends or live events, audiences can easily relate. Leveraging these moments shows your audience that you’re not just firing off automatic tweets but actually sending them at the moment – in the same way, they would behave. As a brand, you are therefore able to move away from the tradition of talking at your customers and share experiences with their dads instead.
What platforms are in play?
With more than close to 1.1 million followers, 7.5% of Australia’s 14m (approx) Facebook users follow Woolworths. As with most other Australian retailers, Facebook acts as a media HQ of sorts, directing the brand’s identity, informing customers of relevant information. Woolworths updates the page daily and posts up food pictures, special offers, how-to videos, and info about how the brand gives back to its online community.
The page gets a comment or a post every few minutes, and many of them are complementary. Woolworths clearly is doing something well here. Responding to these posts in real-time creates goodwill with customers and Facebook is the place where the customers return the favour.
Lesson: Deliver on your brand promise everywhere and Facebook can be a place where people don’t only complain, but engage with you in a positive way.
Woolworths has dutifully created an Instagram feed and has amassed 137,000 followers with some 750 posts in just 2 years.
Woolworths also includes some user-generated content on its feed which is always a great way of both engaging and making life a bit easier for the social media team.
Lesson: For brands not yet using the platform, it’s a great place to build up a new audience, but it’s competitive as all hell, so start now.