Using the Social Web to Smooth A Difficult Conversation

Change is never easy, so when the Golub Corp. in New York announced it was changing the banner on its Price Chopper stores to Market 32, company CEO Jerry Golub knew there would be chatter.

But Golub, a member of the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council that just completed work on an eight-part study of how business can use social media, knew from his council and company experience that he has new tools to connect with shoppers. And he used them.

Golub recently conducted a town hall meeting on Facebook to address questions from shoppers and company associates about the name change. It wasn’t an easy decision to address the public that way. Certainly there was no precedent and social media sites can invite an incredible range of issues. Yet afterwards Golub said it proved a great move.

The traditional media—newspaper, television and radio—in Golub’s operating area did a good job covering the story, he says. However, social media took things to a new level. By following the chatter on social media the company had a good handle on how the news was being received.

“This medium is a way for us to tap into how people are feeling in a way we could never do 15 years ago. Back then the conversation would have been occurring at dinner tables. With social media we could identify the misconceptions directly and clarify any issues. We were able to reach a lot of people in a very short time.”

The open forum allowed him to address many issues, even some difficult ones. “If you are comfortable with your message and how you are going to deliver it, the social web is a great medium.”

Golub says his internal team did a great job getting the company quickly engaged in social media, yet he personally felt his time on the Council and the study itself improved his understanding of the issues involved in social media.

“Untangling the Social Web,” the study Golub’s council recently completed, is available for free download at CCRRC.org.

Michael Sansolo

Research Director, CCRRC North America

http://www.Michaelsansolo.com

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