Social media at it’s best

23 Feb

Great Media Relations blog about good PR and use of social media.

http://www.prdaily.com/socialmedia/Articles/10910.aspx

At most businesses, checking in using Foursquare or Facebook can earn you a badge, or the reward of avoiding a call from a worried spouse or mom who wouldn’t otherwise know why you’re late for dinner. Walgreens is taking it a little further.

“Our goal is to provide real-time value to our more than 6 million daily customers, at scale,” says Adam Kmiec, director of social media for Walgreens. “That means figuring out a way to connect with customers at each and every one of our nearly 8,000 community drugstores.”

Here’s how Walgreens is doing it: Using social media monitoring tools from LocalResponse, the company finds tweets announcing check-ins at its stores. Walgreens’ social media team replies to that check-in announcement with a reply directing customers to new products, offering them coupons, or telling them about how their check-ins can do some charitable good.

Going local

Walgreens started working with LocalResponse last summer, Kmiec says. It’s the first retailer that’s working with the company to offer promotions.

Those promotions differ depending on the time of year or what’s on sale. For example, the drugstore chain’s recent Twitter responses to check-ins have directed customers to Halls Warm-Ups cough drops. The company sent more than 5,000 of those tweets in January, and they have continued into February.

“Sometimes that value is in the form of an offer, other times it’s a tip, and in the case of our program with Halls, we’re providing seasonably contextual product information,” he says.

Kmiec says he’s not worried that customers might think of the messages the company sends in reply to check-ins as spam.

“We have strong insights that guide our decision, and safeguards in place to always make sure we are providing value,” he says. “There are definitely check-points in places to make sure the content we’re providing is relevant, appreciated, and business-driving.”

The company continually tweaks its messages based on customer feedback, Kmiec says.

More than tweets

Other times, Walgreens has offered coupons in reply to check-ins. For instance, checking into a Walgreens store got some customers a coupon for a $2.99 pack of Energizer Max batteries. To receive the coupon, customers texted the message “MAX” to a Walgreens number, and the coupon would arrive on their phones.

Customers redeemed those coupons at a higher rate than they did other digital coupons, Kmiec says.

In other cases, checking in to a Walgreens store has afforded customers the knowledge that they’ve helped someone. In September and October, the company donated a free flu shot to charities including AmeriCares, the American Diabetes Association, the National Urban League, and others. The company put the recipient charities up for a vote on its Facebook page.

“The Flu Check-In program was a multiple award-winning initiative that had never been done before,” Kmiec says. “We broke new ground, demonstrated our commitment to innovation, drove our business, delighted our customers, and at the same time helped to provide flu shots to people in need.”

According to a YouTube video, Walgreens pledged more than $6 million in flu shots as a result of the program.

Customer response

Customers have reacted to Walgreens’ check-in responses in an “overwhelmingly positive” way, Kmiec says. “Local Response has been happy with the click-through rates; they’re operating well above industry benchmarks, and our social media sentiment analysis has shown more than 90 percent of customers feeling good about the program.”

He says Walgreens has new types of messages and offers to test in the coming months. It’s all part of Walgreens’ larger mobile strategy. The company’s mobile app also includes coupons, as well as a tool that enables customers to get their prescriptions refilled by scanning a barcode on their medicine vials.

“I can’t share our product or campaign roadmap, but I can say that there will be programs in the coming months that will reinforce our commitment to innovation, mobile, local and real-time communication,” Kmiec says.

Matt Wilson is a staff writer for Ragan.com.

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