Social connections with the community
In September, Dylan Joffe, a 2006 graduate of Gorham High School, was hired by the supermarket chain to lead its social media efforts.
Joffe said the goal is to use social media to bring that “in-store feeling” of customer service online.
“People shop at their neighborhood Hannaford,” Joffe said last week. “We want to bring that feeling and provide communication online through a variety of (social media).”
Joffe came back to the state in September to work at Hannaford. She had spent six years in Boston attending Emerson College, where she earned a degree in political communication and worked most recently doing new media for a nonprofit organization.
When Joffe started in the position, Hannaford had accounts on Facebook and Twitter. Since she took over the corporate social media efforts, Hannaford’s Facebook page has more than 26,700 fans and a little more than 4,100 followers on its Twitter account.
Joffe said using social media is a good way for Hannaford to connect with customers outside the individual supermarkets.
“We make a big effort to answer any and all questions people might have and let them make comments, both positive and negative, and really let people talk about their shopping experiences in the stores online,” Joffe said.
In fact, Joffe said, every Wednesday since January, Kris Lindsey, a registered dietician who works in the Hannaford communications department, answers customer questions on Facebook from noon to 1 p.m.
Joffe said the company embraces comments from customers, both positive and negative.
“A lot of places will disable comments on their Facebook page. We are really strongly against that. We have kept our Facebook wall open to comments,” she said.
Twitter, she said, allows Hannaford to post certain news items, such as recipe suggestions, that wouldn’t be put on Facebook. It has also allowed Hannaford to connect with food bloggers.
“We’ve had a lot of great responses,” Joffe said of the Twitter account. “It provides a space for more interaction on a much quicker pace because things are always constantly being updated.”
While Joffe intends to keep the Facebook and Twitter accounts active, she is beginning to look into other social media opportunities, such as Foursquare.
“People can check in to the store using their phones. By checking in they get certain perks and can have a relationship (with other customers) online. People can give other people tips of things to try,” she said.
The company also has joined Pinterest, a content sharing service, to post pictures of recipes. Joffe may also start a corporate YouTube page to share video stories, such as what it is like to be a Hannaford driver or the route produce takes to get to the individual supermarkets.
“We are also looking into doing a blog. There aren’t any concrete plans, but it would offer another whole level of online interaction for our customers. What I have learned while working here is how many knowledgeable people work here,” she said.
While businesses are relying more and more on social media, Joffe said her position is fairly rare in the business community. That, however, may soon change.
“(Social media) is something I have seen as a trend and emerging more and more with similar retailers,” said Joffe, the first person to formally hold the position at Hannaford.
After attending Social Media Week in New York City in February, that trend, Joffe said, will only continue.
“Social media is being integrated in all elements of business,” she said. “It’s becoming part of the day-to-day businesses for a variety of places.”
Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at 282-4337, ext. 237.