Independent Thinking Blog

How Your Brand Can Avoid Digital Suicide by Community

Do you want to know the fastest way to alienate your customers?

Ignore them.

Just ask Trader Joe’s. Or maybe not—because they’re not listening.

There was an interesting article recently that looked at the grocery chain’s complete absence from social media:

“Trader Joe’s… does little to retain customers. In a day and age when the majority of consumers communicate by mobile phone and an overwhelming [number] of consumers make buying decisions based on local searches, the strategic decision to avoid social media is anything but strategic; rather it is suicide by community.”


It gets worse. There are a lot of “Trader Joe’s” social media outposts. They’re just not run by Trader Joe’s. So customers ask questions or leave comments they think are for a local store or the national chain—and they get no response. Meanwhile the company’s complete lack of presence means they are ceding messaging to others.

Demographically, more and more of your customers are online.

Trader Joe’s certainly are.

Contrast Trader Joe’s approach with that of Publix.

After experiencing excellent customer service at two different Publix stores recently, I tweeted out as much—and received an immediate thank you from the chain.

Publix’s Twitter bio reads:

The supermarket where shopping is a pleasure wants to hear what you have to say. Ask a question. Let’s talk!


Publix isn’t even in my region and I’m spreading the love.

Community crosses geographic barriers.

I might not live in Publix territory, but people in my social networks do.

Social media is not linear; it doesn’t spread messages in predictable ways. While it’s never made sense to ignore your customers, it’s even dumber when their conversations are visible everywhere and in real time.

Not every business needs a digital presence. But more and more certainly do.

While I’m sure you can find examples of businesses that survive just fine without being on social media, it’s not advisable if your customers and prospects:

  • are looking for you online
  • are interacting with your competition online
  • are having conversations online about your products and your industry

This is low-bar stuff. But it’s not optional.

What are you doing to remain connected to your customers?


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