Walgreens: Facebook Isn’t a Social Strategy

When agencies tell war stories, one common one is how a client came to them to ask, “What’s our Facebook strategy?” OK, it might be, “What’s our Facebook and Twitter strategy?” Social media has fallen into a check-the-box mindset for many brands and agencies. Set up a Facebook page, maybe buy some ads to build a fan base, do updates. Rinse. Repeat.

Walgreens wants to think differently, according to Adam Kmiec, the brand’s director of social media. For instance, its recent Foursquare promotion tied in with a scannable coupon to close the loop back to sales. Kmiec explained the pharmacy chain’s approach to social media.

Do you think Facebook is going to make brands pay more to connect with fans there?
Social media creates an efficiency, but it’s not free. The recent changes announced by Facebook at fMC are signs that Facebook is maturing as a business and that companies will need to start thinking of Facebook as more than wall posts and likes. Ultimately, if there’s one thing we’ve seen with social media, the best content will always rise to the top.

How do you think Facebook’s recent changes are going to affect Walgreens?
I believe in our strategy and focus. The recent changes outlined by Facebook at fMC are opportunities. But not every opportunity is applicable for every company. For an established company like Walgreens, we see Timeline as a way to make the past just as important and interesting as the very recent present. Brands with a strong heritage will be able to leverage Timeline to create more meaningful dialogue and develop more of an emotional connection with fans. I’m also excited that we’ll be able to directly communicate/message with our fans. This could enable us to extend Walgreens Social Care and better help our customers.

Do brands confuse their Facebook strategy with their social strategy?
It’s easy to become laser-focused on Facebook. They’re the largest player. But just because it’s the largest doesn’t mean it’s the best for your business. This is where having a strong strategy is critical because it allows you to pivot quickly as changes happen. We’re focused on what works, not on what’s the biggest.

From a retail perspective, how has the proliferation of mobile and social brought about the need for a genuine redefinition of what online shopping really looks like?
I’m not sure it’s about the tools as much as it is about consumer behavior. Organizations like Walgreens have always focused on understanding our customers and patients. When you have a firm grasp on how your customer wants to connect with you, it becomes easier to figure out how to provide value.

What is Walgreens doing to understand how different customer segments engage online, and how does the company coordinate this knowledge with other channels to create a seamless cross-channel experience?
I can’t reveal a lot of the secret sauce here, but collaboration only works when the culture appreciates, supports, invites and embraces collaboration. While we all have individual goals by team, we’re more focused on the goals of the company. Focusing on the bigger picture, focusing on Walgreens as a whole, removes barriers and fosters an environment that believes in sharing.