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July 24, 2012

By Steven Saunders – Interactive Marketing Manager, Food Lion

In the new age of marketing, brands and retailers are no longer pushing out one-way messaging. Now, consumers have the tools to broadcast their own opinions and experiences as they relate to brands without having to wait in line on a 1-800 number. Let’s say you’ve just stormed out of grocery store because you received the worst customer service of your life. Maybe they wouldn’t accept your coupons. Maybe the employees were mean to you. Or maybe they were out of your favorite flavor of ice cream… again. What do you do? Well, you could easily pull up their Facebook page on your phone as you’re walking through the parking lot and tell them about it. Not only that – you could also post the exact location of this store through your GPS-enabled phone in hopes that others who have had a similar experience will share their plight, letting the store know that they feel your pain. Aaahh, the beauty of social media.

But what if you had a positive experience? They did accept your coupons. They did have your favorite ice cream. The employees were fast, friendly, helpful, and approachable? Would you want others to know about it?

Food Lion customers do! We have been pleasantly surprised by the level of community engagement of our fans. They want to share their shopping experience – not just with their friends and family, but with other Food Lion shoppers. Over time we have seen more and more customers recognizing their favorite Food Lion employees by name, by store location, and even by the department in which they work. As a result, Food Lion is joining the conversation. We’ve started to proactively ask our fans to give a “shout-out” to their favorite Food Lion employee, telling us what makes them great and why they are essential to their shopping trip at Food Lion. The last time we made a “shout-out” post, it received an overwhelmingly positive response with 380 total comments and 106 “likes” from fans, making it one of the most popular posts we’ve ever done. Total reach for the post exceeded 40,000 people, meaning the number of unique people who saw the post in their Facebook news feed either because they like Food Lion on Facebook or someone they know liked the post or made a comment. This is a great example of an extremely localized conversation that has been very positive for us.

Cindy C. writes: “The Fairfield store VA Beach! Great People! VA Beach Kempsville High School wants to tell you all – Thank you all for all you do!”

Kelly A. writes: “Damaris Clark, Stanleytown, VA: She is awesome. She takes interest in how I am doing and knows my son and always talks to him when we are in food lion. Everyone is great but she is the best.”

Catherine B. writes: “Amanda – She works at 5th street in Charlottesville, VA. She is such a nice person and makes my day.”

Our fans love to interact with one another on Facebook, sharing couponing tips, offering advice and even showing support for their favorite Food Lion stores. They may be complete strangers but our fans truly see themselves as part of a greater community through which they stay connected with the brand and have the power to actually influence the brand’s direction. That’s the true power of social media.

View the entire comment string on Facebook here à http://www.facebook.com/157498561351/posts/10150834987256352