Guest Post by: Simon Phillips
Sometimes on my way to the FreshNetworks office in Holborn my route takes me down a pleasant street called Lambs Conduit.
Recently I noticed a supermarket called simply “The People’s Supermarket”. So I did a little research and it turns out that The People’s Supermarket is a social supermarket: “A supermarket for the people by the people”.
The People’s Supermarket stocks all natural food, much like the kind of things you’d find at farmers' markets. Obviously by shopping there you help support them but you can also become a member and pledge to work for a few hours each month to get a 10% discount at the till. This volunteer scheme helps to cut staff costs and the shop itself is fairly basic to reduce overheads further.
The People’s Supermarket is slightly different from your standard High Street multiple and their vision is being reported widely by the press and bloggers, including a four-part Channel 4 TV programme starting this Sunday.
What’s also interesting is how they are using social media to amplify their message.
When you arrive on The People’s Supermarket website you are immediately drawn in by a blog about the shop volunteers, including photos of people taking part. It leads you to ask the question “why would I work for free at a supermarket?” You are engaged; you want to know more.
The social tools on the site aren’t particularly radical – Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and their blog. What is interesting though is the authenticity of the conversations on these social channels. The People’s Supermarket is real; it is not a concept dreamed up by an expensive PR agency. Social media is very good at reflecting this fact. This is an area where many apparently well thought out social media strategies derail: when planning a concept ignores existing organisational culture.
There’s no danger of this for The People’s Supermarket. A shout out on Twitter for some volunteers for a shift the next day and within an hour a couple of people have responded. Their Facebook page has real activity too – not 2 weeks ago but half an hour ago. When they had a party last week to celebrate their six month anniversary they promoted it on Facebook and then put lots of pictures on Flickr after the event – a great use of online-offline promotion.
The People’s Supermarket is extending its social footprint all the time and if they can maintain the current level of interest I think it will be a big success.