Earlier this month I analysed the way that Walmart uses social media to engage with its customers, finding that it has built up a large following on each of the major social networks with the exception of Google+.
By way of comparison, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at Tesco’s social strategy to see if there are any major differences in its approach.
As with Walmart, Tesco also publishes its social media guidelines online. It asks staff to ‘live the values’, ‘be authentic’ and respect other people’s copyright, as well as warning that the media and competitors are always watching.
Obviously I’d hate to disappoint, so here’s a look at how Tesco uses Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.
Though I’m not a fan of its jumbled cover photo, Tesco has done a good job of filling up its timeline with engaging visual content.
Unlike many other retailers Tesco only tends to post one update each day, and it is nearly always related to the brand or its products.
Tesco also frequently incentivises user comments by offering Clubcard points in return for sharing stories on various topics. This is a good way of driving engagement, but could also be seen as akin to paying for ‘likes’.
A more natural way of encouraging conversation are the live chats it regularly hosts with various food and health experts.
In comparison, Walmart posts several updates a day and they are often just conversation starters such as caption competitions or sports chat, and these achieve a much higher response rate than Tesco’s posts.
However it obviously needs to be taken into account that Walmart has 26m fans to Tesco’s 1.1m, so it’s all relative.
Tesco’s array of apps includes several games, but you have to ‘like’ the page before you can play them.
This is a clever tactic for driving up the number of Facebook fans, but personally it would put me off playing any of the games.
However Tesco also offers a useful ‘Here to help’ tab that includes contact details for all its customer care channels and a ‘real food’ app that gives information on seasonal recipes.
Tesco also operates a separate page for its F&F clothing line, which has clocked up 238,000 fans. Again it is updated on a daily basis, predominately with Tesco branded content.
The most interesting app is its interactive fitting room that it launched in February last year.
It allows customers to create 3D digital versions of themselves and try on clothes by uploading a photo of their face and another of their body type (or by entering measurements).
Tesco operates more Twitter accounts than you could shake a riding crop at, with a separate one for each of its business units.
I counted 16 including accounts for customer care, special offers, real food, Clubcard, jobs and wines.
Having this number of Twitter feeds appears confusing and will certainly mean that it dilutes the potential for any one account to build up a large following, but it also help to separate brand messages and offers from customer service.
Tesco Customer Care is incredibly active, responding to and resolving hundreds of customer queries every hour. It’s also available for most of the day – 8am to 11pm from Monday to Saturday and 10am to 8pm on Sundays.
The tone is generally quite light-hearted, and the social team also joins in conversations with other users and brands.
In contrast the Tesco Offers feed predominately churns out details of the latest product discounts and offers, though it does occasionally respond to customers as well.
The fact that it has achieved the same amount of followers as the customer care feed is evidence of the fact that quite often on Twitter people engage with brands to complain or because they want access to special offers.
Tesco has managed to substantially increase its number of Pinterest followers in the past six months from just 32 to 655.
This is probably in no small part due to the fact that it has altered its strategy to include pinning third-party content rather than just promoting its own products.
Back in July I blogged about Tesco's Pinterest account, noting that despite the gorgeous imagery it only used the platform as a means of linking back to its own ecommerce platform.
Furthermore, all the images were the same size, so it lacked any character or feeling of spontaneity. This has now changed and Tesco’s boards include content from around the web and of all shapes and sizes.
By embracing the social element of Pinterest and posting third-party content Tesco will have gained greater exposure among Pinterest users, thereby increasing its number of followers.
It appears that Tesco is somewhat of a late adopter of G+, as it posted its first update three days ago and has only posted one update since.
Both the links are repurposed from Facebook, but then there’s nothing particularly wrong with using duplicate content on different social networks.
Walmart is equally unimpressed with Google’s social network – it opened an account back in December 2011 but has only posted two updates since then.
It does appear that Tesco is now primed to start taking G+ seriously though, so it might start to build a decent following over time.
It currently has 2,294 followers, but to put that in some context Sainsbury’s has almost 60,000.