Enterprise social media can drive success in the space.

Enterprise Social media needs to be driven by best practices.  Enterprise based software solutions can help us all connect with an audience, but we need to understand who our customer is before we blindly rush into adapting the latest social media solution, or we could waste marketing dollars with little or no return. 


5 Reasons to use Enterprise Social Media

Craig Herkert

Former Chief Executive Officer/Walmart Americas (Former) NYSE: WMT 

In 2009 I took on the challenge to be the President and CEO of Supervalu.  At the time, Supervalu was one of the largest supermarket operators in the United States.  The company had to grown to 1400 stores through a series of acquisitions.

While all stores were supermarkets, they were in fact a collection of 10 very unique brands that had at one point in their not too recent history been independently owned and operated brands.  Most of the acquired companies were still using legacy IT systems.

As anyone who has had the experience of integrating acquired businesses surely knows, gaining synergies and integrating cultures are huge challenges. I found that the use of a great social media tool greatly accelerated the process of growing sales programs and spreading the corporate culture.  At Supervalu, we used a third party program:  Yammer.  Yammer was founded in 2008 by David Sacks with the goal of dramatically improving the way people collaborate in business (Yammer was sold to Microsoft in 2012).

Listed below are the 5 key reasons why I believe any business should be utilizing some form of enterprise social software now:

1. Connect the disconnected: At Supervalu, the store manager is the front line leader charged with meeting the local customer needs.  We had introduced a new “hyper-local” strategy in 2010.  Our goal was to be the best supermarket in any given neighborhood by having the food products that the people in that neighborhood needed.  The challenge was getting the information from stores to home office and back again in anything like a timely manner.  Social media messages are instant, multi media, and can be directed at groups or individuals.

2. Exploit best practices: We rather quickly found an unexpected benefit (and it was huge):  there were clusters of stores all over the country serving similar customer groups, however, these stores had no way of knowing where the other stores were.  The first example of this was our college store group.  All over the country we had stores serving college communities, yet not a one of these stores had any way to communicate with the others (or even of knowing that they existed).  One of our mangers in Southern California decided to start a “college store” group on Yammer.  Before long, we had over 100 stores from across the county join this group.  Without any direction or help from the home office, these stores began to share best practices with one another (my favorite:  merchandising ping pong balls by the beer department).

3. Get unfiltered, Instant feedback: A good social media portal gives you real-time, direct feedback.  I wrote a blog each Saturday that I posted for all of our managers to see.  As soon as hit the upload tab, I would know that somewhere out there this post was being read (most likely on a manager’s IPad or smart phone).  Managers had the ability to comment on any post (including mine).  We had only a few rules:  all post and comments had to be professional (no trash talk); work related (personal stuff goes on Facebook); and relevant.

4. Empower front-line management: Our goal of being a great local grocer meant that we had to radically change some rules and procedures.  In the past, if a customer requested that a store carry a local item, the approval process took a minimum of 8 weeks!  Of course, in 8 weeks the customer had long ago moved on to another grocer.  By changing rules and utilizing the social platform, the time from customer request to actually getting the item in the store was reduced to just a few days.

5. Speed innovation: I really like this one….all of a sudden we were able to tap in to the talent and innovation of hundreds of people.  There were store managers in remote towns who seldom saw anyone from the home office who were now able to share their ideas with anyone.  Once we found good ideas (we were ambivalent as to where the idea came from), it was much easier and faster to roll this idea out to all of the relevant stores.

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2 Comments to “Enterprise social media can drive success in the space.”

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