In the latest instalment of our series of posts looking at how major brands use social media I’ve decided to turn the spotlight on Kroger.

The Kroger Company is the second largest retailer in the US behind Walmart, though it owns a number of subsidiary chains as well as its Kroger-branded stores.

But as we shall see, its huge profit margins don’t necessarily translate into success in social.

To compare Kroger’s social strategy to other major international brands, check out our posts looking at Walmart, Tesco, Starbucks, Tiffany & Co. and Nike

Facebook

Kroger generally posts one update per day to its Facebook timeline, with the focus remaining resolutely on product suggestions and coupons.

It does occasionally mix in photo galleries, questions and videos, but these are few and far between.

Most recently nearly all the content has been to promote the retailer’s digital coupons with the aim of driving people in-store, as despite its size Kroger has yet to launch an ecommerce site.

It’s probably the most heavy handed example I’ve seen of a business trying to use social to drive additional sales, as most other companies at least attempt to use social as a way of engaging with people and developing the brand identity. 

Perhaps as a result of its focus on couponing and promotions, Kroger has just 580,000 fans and receives relatively few interactions with each of its posts. In general it receives a few hundred ‘likes’ and comments on each updates, though the regular ‘Free Friday Download’ posts tend to be more popular.

But despite its overt sales messages, Kroger does do a good job of responding to user comments.

It receives quite a few queries from customers asking how they can redeem coupons and the social team generally manages to resolve any issues without just referring them to a customer service hotline.

This shows that Kroger obviously understands the value in engaging with users through Facebook, however I feel that its content strategy does little to interest people unless they’re avid bargain hunters.

I also couldn’t find any particular examples of interesting or noteworthy Facebook campaigns by Kroger, so it’s fair to suggest that it’s still an underutilised medium at the moment.

Twitter

Kroger’s Twitter feed basically just mirrors its Facebook page and as such is equally uninspiring.

It includes very few images, videos or interesting links, so it does little to expand on the brand image or create any reason for people to interact.

Often the retailer posts exactly the same link several times in the same day, albeit in different tweets, so it all becomes quite repetitive.

The main account also responds to occasional @mentions from other users, but only ever positive comments. Complaints and negative comments are dealt with by Kroger Support, which appears to have been launched quite recently as it has only tweeted 700 times.

It responds to a number of customer complaints each day and avoids the common tactic of asking people to contact customer services by telephone or email. Instead Kroger Support tries to resolve problems through Twitter, often by referring feedback to the store in question.

Overall though Kroger’s Twitter strategy is fairly uninspiring, and it has attracted just 36,000 followers which is a very low number for such a large business.

Pinterest

Kroger has a fairly active Pinterest account and I suspect that it’s relatively new as most of the content focuses on spring and summer recipes, but there’s no mention of Christmas or winter ideas yet.

As one would expect from a grocery store, all of the boards are food themed and give inspiration for various occasions and meal times, such as ‘simple summer salads’ and ‘fourth of July cookout’.

They contain an excellent array of images, all of which are taken form third-party blogs due to the fact that Kroger doesn’t have an ecommerce site.

Overall the 14 boards are very appealing and maintain a fairly high quality throughout. It’s interesting that there is no attempt at selling Kroger products or driving people to download coupons, however that may all change if the retailer launches an ecommerce site.

Google+

Kroger doesn’t appear to have any presence on Google+, which is quite surprising as most brands have at least claimed their domain even if they don’t actually bother to publish anything.