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WholeSoy leverages mobile during shelf absence to build awareness

The specialty yogurt has been heavily relying on social media to stay relevant while it sets up its own production facility. This was a process that was supposed to have occurred without stopping production but instead has taken months, resulting in the product being removed from grocers’ stocks.

“WholeSoy is using social media to keep its customers informed, as it struggles through some production issues,” said Wilson Kerr, vice president, business development and sales at Unbound Commerce, Boston. “Anyone who flew anywhere over the holidays can attest to the importance of communication, when things are not going smoothly.

“Encouragement and positive feedback from customers can go a long way, if a company is seeing funding or assessing whether or not to forge on,” he said. “A quick look at their Facebook page shows that they have an active, loyal base of consumers awaiting their product’s return.”

Mr. Kerr is not affiliated with WholeSoy yogurt. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

WholeSoy did not respond to press inquiries.

Staying relevant
WholeSoy is a dairy-free yogurt that is sold in grocery stores and in health food chains, such as Whole Foods.

The yogurt seemingly disappeared from grocers’ dairy sections about mid-May. When asked why, some staff at Whole Foods and Fairway did not know.

In this case, mobile and social media served as the loud speakers that proclaimed WholeSoy was still in business and would be coming back some time soon.

WholeSoy’s Web site had already identified its “Community” as comprising its “fans” on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.

WholeSoy communicated with its fans via its Web site, Facebook and Twitter pages. Months later, when WholeSoy yogurt still had not returned to local stores, the company continued to communicate with its followers.

Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites now function as the de facto public relations department for many brands and companies.

“Social media engagement is a two-way street that allows both the broadcast and reception of information and feedback,” Mr. Kerr said. “Information sent by a brand is sent in real time, and reaches an audience that has opted-in to receive this news.

“As such, social media is a crucial element for a niche company like WholeSoy, as they seek to stay top-of-mind while they ramp up production and prepare to relaunch the product.”

Posting updates
The WholeSoy Twitter and Facebook page include repeated posts, where the company promises to be back up and running by September.
The Facebook and Twitter users who post on WholeSoy’s pages are supportive, for the most part.

In a Nov. 7 post on Twitter, @WholeSoy tweets that Whole Foods has promised it to restock the yogurt when it is back in production.

At press time, this was not confirmed by Whole Foods.

In times such as this — when WholeSoy expects to resume production, yet has had repeated delays  —it is important for the company to stay in touch with consumers.

“Consumers can show support and even influence the buying decisions of wholesale customers, through this support,” Mr. Kerr said. “A buyer of say a Whole Foods could easily access the the WholeSoy Facebook page and see what customers think of the product, even when it’s not available.”

Final Take
Kari Jensen is staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York