Albertsons LLC Vet Returns to Head Up Social and Digital Marketing

Albertson’s LLC is getting serious about social and digital media, and has brought in an emerging media player who has a social and mobile technology background, an entrepreneurial spirit, and startup experience to help the company enhance its digital presence.

Interestingly, this next generation techie is also a former Albertsons employee.

Karl Meinhardt, who will lead the company’s newly created Social & Digital marketing team, developed the grocer’s first e-commerce website during the dot com boom in 1998. After Albertsons, he went on to found several start-up companies in the foodservice and social gaming markets. Now he’ll focus his unique blend of corporate and startup digital experience on making Albertsons social.

“Too many companies approach social media as an add-on to their marketing programs, and dedicate few resources to it,” Meinhardt told Progressive Grocer in an exclusive interview. “They don’t even dedicate a full-time employee to its management – it’s usually something done on the side. But doing it this way, you’ll never engage your audience in a way that delivers true benefits.”

Meinhardt will have two full time staff dedicated to social media: Jana Jeffery, his digital community manager, has over 18 years of experience as a marketing and technology professional for Fortune 100 companies and several emerging start-ups. Elizabeth Perryman, his digital content manager, brings experience in public and media relations, and has worked with companies throughout the Northwest. They join director of web services, Dan McKay to form the company’s digital marketing team.

According to Meinhardt, successful social media management has two components – content creation, and community management. “The content starts the engagement,” he says. “The community manager develops and expands this engagement.”

Most important, the social media manager must have an engaging personality, and must be able to express this personality via the social network medium. Too many companies make the mistake of forgetting the “social” part of social media, and assume the technology will fulfill the role.

“It’s like that magnetic person you occasionally see at networking functions,” says Meinhardt. “They have an energy and charisma that draws people to them. They’re interesting and also fun.”

The team will also develop solutions for Albertsons’ mobile, online, email, and other digital marketing platforms, as well, with an eye toward connecting each via a social media ecosystem made up of the various social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, etc. – intertwined and functioning as a cohesive unit with Albertsons’s shoppers right smack in the middle.

And as new tools emerge, the ecosystem evolves to include them. “That’s the benefit of the ‘startup’ culture of the team,” said Meinhardt. “Startups are all about adaptability and change.”

Such interconnectivity, when done right, can turn a social network post into a viral marketing epidemic. One shopper has a positive experience and shares it on her Facebook wall. Her Facebook friend “likes” the post. Now that person’s friends see it. Maybe one tweets it. One of that person’s twitter followers receives the tweet via cell phone then texts it to her friend, and so on….

This is Meinhardt’s goal. “When you have all these platforms connected, your brand becomes ubiquitous no matter how your shoppers choose interact with it,” he says.

Boise, Idaho-based Albertson’s LLC operates over 200 stores under the Albertson’s banner in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Texas.


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