The Kroger Company: Because, sometimes customers give birth in the supermarket — Live from the Brands-Only Summit

Coverage of this session by Jordan Ynostrosa of Connect with her by following her on Twitter.

3:50 —'s Jeff Casale introduces The Kroger Company's Jorie Mark.

3:51 — “Because, sometimes customers give birth in the supermarket.” How things like this happening can be great content!

3:52 — Jorie: Kroger's social program started out with just two of us and an agency doing everything for us. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram content was all the same. This was across about a dozen other grocery chains that we managed as well. All content was identical.

3:53 — Jorie: “It’s not that there wasn’t good social content out there… We just weren’t sharing it. (Or even “liking” it.)”

3:54 — Here is our gallery of missed opportunities. One influencer had 11,000 followers, foodie recipe that calls out shopping at Kroger and no retweet, no “yum,” not even a favorite! Another influencer had 7,200 followers, no <3, no regram.

3:55 — Jorie – “Free word-of-mouth advertising for our floral department? No thanks, we'll pass.”

3:57 — Jorie says a few weeks into her new gig as Kroger's Social Media Manager, this happened: “Georgia woman gives birth in Kroger.” She emailed her boss and said we have a great human interested story here.

3:58 — The Baby Cora story fell in my lap (top).

 But the question remained, how did we get MORE of these “warm & fuzzy” stories? 

Where do babies (being born in grocery stores) come from?

3:59 — A few months later, Sherry fell into Anne's lap(top). Sherry, a mother of an infant, lost her money before checkout and a customer in line behind her named Brian paid for her groceries. Afterwards, she posted a thank you note to Brian on Facebook. We racked down Sherry to get permission to share this thank you note from our wall. We also tracked down Brian. That weekend, our paid media team put money behind this post share.
4:00 — Because of those efforts, 4,257,792 people were reached and 117,925 likes, comments, shares, and clicks. 

4:01 — Jorie shares the results of the Sherry & Brian post:

  • Amazing feedback from Kroger shoppers
  • Amazing feedback from our Kroger colleagues
  • Amazing feedback from Kroger leadership
  • The request, plea & directive, DO MORE OF THIS!!!

4:02 — We threw a party to find out how to talk to people who are actually in the stores and to find more of these stores. Which was also a part of an all day seminar. We introduced our social media strategy with was focus on engagement. We want to move away form the salad pictures and more to the real life stories.

This was a new thing.

4:03 — Jorie shares their summit Details: We invited key social media decision makers from every Kroger Division. We then presented our social engagement strategy. Finally, we taught them how to take “shareworthy” photos of their stores for Instagram—CONTEST for free iPad for the winning photo and catered lunch for Division producing most photos

4:04 — Jorie: Here are the results of our contest:

  • More than 1,000 photos submitted by Divisions, many of which we used to replace the “cookie cutter” content on Instagram with real, in-store content. Our Instagram follower count increased by 816% in 2015, in large part due to this new content!
  • Support and appreciation from these key stakeholders—one increased her paid social media budget; others collaborated with us on innovative approaches such as Twitter parties after getting “fired up about social.”
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY…we now had partners in securing these great warm fuzzy stories we needed to grow our social media content!

4:05 — We then started getting a ton of Warm Fuzzy stories. Example: One of our stores threw a birthday party 90 year old bagger…we had a little kid who was afraid of monsters so one of our pharmacists shared our “secret monster repellent” with her.

4:06 — Jorie: Warm and fuzzies aren't the only part of our engagement strategy:

  • NO MORE “CRICKETS”— We now have a Community team that responds to all positive customer engagement posts, liking and sharing every cute baby, sushi roll and #krogering.
  • USER GENERATED CONTENT— All of our most important social campaigns have a UGC component.
  • INFLUENCER STRATEGY— Blogger outreach has become one of our most powerful levers to pull.

4:07 — As a results, we started to see a major lift in our follower count. This was contingent on a lot of different people: our agency, executives above us and our paid media team. Everyone was cooperative and it was a huge growth in the end.

4:08 — Jorie: All of this is because of our customers.


Q: How to you get reach for user generated content?

A: Jorie: We have a manual system of storing our permissions.

Q: Doing this with 2 people is awesome, but what's the next step. How are you going to scale and keep being able to tell these stories?

A: Jorie: We went from a 2 to 3 person team. we now have a regional social media manager who currently manages Fred Meyer. Because of these results, and they hyper local results we were able to make the case that we need people on our team on the ground locally.

Q: We struggle with all the things we should be talking about as a grocer. How do you balance content? (ads, sustainability, food…etc).

A: Jorie: We ended up looking at our top performing content and who our persona was as a brand. These stories all fall into our fresh and friendly idea. But if it's not performing or not doing anybody any good, we don't put it out there.

Q: Was is critical to reach out to different divisions and how do you get them engaged.

A: Jorie: We did this in person. We tried over the phone and different things, but we absolutely had to do it in person. Some divisions its advertising, public affairs or customer communications. but we talked to the person who dealt with social and what they would be able to contribute to.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: Jorie: Dealing with crisis the right way on social media. Making sure we are timely in our responses. Utilizing our content the best we can. Working with influencers and missing opportunities in that space.