12 Whole Foods Customer Engagement Secrets Using Social Media

Mike Schoultz
6 min readFeb 12, 2020


Whole Food's customer engagement is the basis for their strategy of growing customer relationships. Check them out to learn from them.

Social engagement is not about farming followers, it’s a way of cultivating relationships. Does your business have a strategy for building customer relationships? Is it based on natural customer engagement?

Check out our thoughts on customer focus.

When choosing to learn from others’ social media strategies, it is always helpful to choose the best of the best. Whole Food's marketing strategy is one of those. They have been successfully executing their customer engagement using social media for over 7 years. Their strategies have played a significant role in their growth.

Related post: Word of Mouth Marketing Examples … 11 Effective Ones to Study

The ultimate goal of all the points I list below is this. Eliminate the fluff from your marketing strategy, and focus only on the things that work. Are you familiar with Whole Foods? It’s a leading natural and organic food store with nearly 300 locations in North America and the United Kingdom. A large enterprise. Their social media strategy is built around its company website and 6 additional social platforms. These include Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and blog.

They have recently added Foursquare and Pinterest.

Related: Influence Consumer Behavior Through Personalization Strategies

Yes, Whole Foods has developed an incredible brand presence wherever it has chosen to set up shop. This includes across the country, on the web, and in just about every social media venue on the internet. These include even internally “owned” properties such as local websites.

Their ability to engage the community and foster customer loyalty is nearly unmatched. Here are 10 philosophical precepts that drive the company’s customer engagement efforts from their social media platforms:

Customer conversation

Whole Food's social media centers on letting customer engagement and conversation occur as naturally as possible. They listen, observe, and apply new ideas from what they learn. Can’t beat that, can you?

It’s about building customer relationships, not marketing

Building meaningful relationships is key. Whole Foods’ marketing efforts focus less on traditional marketing. They focus more on giving texture to the brand in the fun, engaging formats.

Social media fits within a larger digital strategy

At Whole Foods, social media is not a separate and distinct entity. Various stores collaborate online and offline to develop and implement plans designed to fully engage the community.

One such effort was a special film series, ‘Do Something Reel Film Festival’.This extensive 6-month series was a celebration of people who understand that small ideas can create big change. The festival’s objectives were to connect the brand with food and environmental issues. Their objectives also sought to inspire people to make a difference.

Local social media elements

Whole Foods, while a large, international company, puts the priority on the local component of its strategy.

There is a community manager assigned at every store. His job is to manage customer engagement through multiple platform accounts. His focus is being where the customers are.

They maintain very loose control from corporate headquarters. They assist and collaborate, but the local stores maintain lots of freedom of initiative. Local. An important component of their strategy.

Make it clear where to start

Whole Foods believes you need to focus on where customers start. This permits customers to know where to find them on various social media venues.

For each vertical (jobs, deals and so on), Whole Foods launches a separate account. As an example, they use Twitter.com/wholefoodsrecipes to focus on recipes. This account focuses exclusively on generating ideas for new and different recipes at Whole Foods.

Whole Foods customer engagement … platform integration

All of the efforts are continually focused on improving the relevancy of customer engagement. They are not afraid to experiment to see what works and what doesn’t.

Each social media platform has its primary objectives. Of course, some flexibility and adaptability are maintained. The strategy sets a goal of linking and close integration of all the platform efforts.

Look around the corners

Whole Foods may be full of surprises, but the company does not like to be surprised. They like to look around the corner to attend to all the little details. They address any issues that may arise.

The company looks ahead to see how customers will reach the page, how they will navigate the site, and how a customer’s experience may change. It also tries to anticipate and plan for incidents in which someone doesn’t like a particular product or project. Customers will occasionally take them to task for it. In other words, the company plans for all scenarios.

More to think about: Social Media Graphics …9 Great Ways to Improve Your Marketing Designs

Be authentic

Rule №1 in social media is to be genuine and transparent, so this precept is not breaking any new ground. What is crucial here specifically for Whole Foods is that they remain true to the brand. They started with their food culture, so each social media team is expected to be centered around food when engaging with social media.

Build coalitions

Internally, collaboration is key to inventing, planning, and executing any projects or campaigns. Every department, including legal, the call center, communications, PR, managers, and executives, must be on board.

The magic of social media is that you can recognize the opportunity quickly. The challenge is in responding just as quickly. Without a coordinated effort and buy-in, you quickly lose momentum.

Make Twitter a key platform

To see what’s going on in real-time, they plug into Twitter. On Twitter, they have found that things tend to go viral fastest.Real-time monitoring increases your response time to what people are saying about your brand, negative or positive.

In addition, it provides early notice of any opportunities that arise, at any given second, any given day.Their Twitter accounts are used primarily as a customer service tool. Their goal is responding to individual customer questions and requests. They have several niche twitter accounts for such special topics as wine and cheese, as well as accounts for most of the local stores.

Focus on the four response message strategies

Whenever Whole Foods identifies a problem or opportunity, it responds in one or more of the following four ways:

Amplify: As trends are identified, or something its customers seem to like, Whole Foods amplifies whatever it is. This helps them bring it to the surface and increase visibility and enthusiasm.

Context-ify: By context-ifying their messages, Whole Foods makes sure customers fully understand.

Change: If it’s broke, fix it. Whole Foods likes to actively solicit constructive criticism and ideas to improve its business. They gather suggestions for products, services, and projects. They are not afraid of adaptation or change.

Ignore: You gotta respond? No, sometimes it’s best to ignore. This is especially true when it appears you’re being provoked into a response or fight. It’s easier to ignore things when you can put them into their proper context.

For example, if your primary critics are a Facebook Group with 150 members out of the 400 million-plus Facebook accounts, you have little to worry about.

Take chances, but “be mostly right”

All of Whole Foods' social media teams were scrappy, savvy and confident from the very beginning. They succeeded by asking for forgiveness, not permission, and by “being mostly right.”If you’re transparent and do mostly right, the social media space is very forgiving.

The bottom line

There are many ideas that you can take away from Whole Foods marketing strategy. They are going great guns in trying new things and learning a ton.



Mike Schoultz

Mike Schoultz writes about improving the performance of business. Bookmark his blog for stories and articles. www.digitalsparkmarketing.com