Your grocery store wants you to be its friend. So why won’t you?

A new report says grocery stores need to step up their digital game – and one way they can do it, is to get more of us to follow them on social media.

The Retail Feedback Group’s “U.S. Supermarket Shopper Digital Update” finds that 87% of us regularly use one or more social media sites, but only 25% are “friends” with or connected to our favorite grocery store.

“Closing the social media gap presents a real opportunity as many shoppers will change their behavior based on recommendations from their social network,” said RFG Principal Brian Numainville.

Nearly half of grocery shoppers are willing to try a new recipe, and a third are willing to buy a new food item based on social network suggestions. So the RFG says many stores are missing out, by not being the ones doing the suggesting.

Some stores are trying – they’ve become more social media savvy in recent years, filling their feeds with tips, recipes, deals and announcements. Some are very responsive to customer questions and complaints, while others could do better.

That could be because many of the people running the social media sites aren’t the ones with the answers. A 2015 report by the Food Marketing Institute found that only about half of food retailers are running their social media sites in-house, while others outsource their social media management.

Stores that do it best, are among those with the most social media followers. Several years ago, Coupons in the News did an analysis of the most-“liked” grocery stores on Facebook. Publix and Whole Foods topped the list, with more than a million likes apiece. Today, Whole Foods has vaulted into first place with 4.1 million Facebook fans, while Publix has a respectable 2.7 million likes, and ALDI is not far behind with about 2.1 million.

All of those stores are digitally-savvy outside of social media as well, with engaging apps and websites of their own. And the RFG says that’s important, too. More than half of grocery shoppers interact with their primary food store on the stores’ branded sites. The most popular activities are checking the digital circular, researching special promotions and building grocery lists.

So it’s not enough to just be a good store anymore. Stores need to have a good digital presence as well, the RFG concludes. According to a 2015 report by Interactions Marketing, 77% of shoppers who use social media expect retailers to have a social media presence. It’s not a nice-to-have, they say, it’s a must. While Trader Joe’s is probably the highest-profile Facebook holdout, others who have shied away from social media in recent years like Wegmans, Pick ‘n Save and Stop & Shop eventually saw the value in launching official Facebook pages and jumped aboard.

After all, just about everyone is active online these days. It’s time your favorite grocery stores are, too – and maybe then they’ll be worthy of your virtual friendship.

Photo by MinuteDreamer

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