Born and raised north of Boston, MA, I am acutely familiar with the regional discount grocery store chain Market Basket. It’s where everyone I know shops for their food. Until recently.
Market Basket has about 25,000 employees (non-unionized) and 71 locations in 3 New England states. I won’t go into too much detail about the recent goings-on, but in the last few weeks, the beloved former-CEO Arthur T. Demoulas was fired by a Board controlled by less-popular feuding family members. Market Basket employees have been boycotting the store and holding protests, at the expense of their jobs and careers.
Once the story started receiving national attention, social media channels were all a-buzz. What can this grassroots-turned-national social media campaign teach nonprofits about using social media and inspiring passion in supporters?
Here are just 6 ideas:
1) Be awesome.
Artie T., as he is fondly known by his employees, has inspired a rare form of passion – his employees are willing to lay down their jobs in protest to get him reinstated. Would your employees or co-workers do this same thing for you?
This unbridled zeal for the former-CEO is the key to the #SaveMarketBasket movement – without it, no form of social media campaign could work. Inspire extreme passion, elicit emotion and get people to care deeply.
If you aren’t awesome, you won’t inspire the zeal and the enthusiasm necessary to carry out a successful, viral social media campaign. It’s that simple.
2) Start somewhere.
Market Basket employees created a Facebook page letting people (mostly other employees) know that the Board was trying to oust beloved former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas – last summer!
This page now has over 77K likes and is growing every day. What started out as an informative site to spread news of relevance to Market Basket employees has spurred national interest and thousands of people supporting the cause!
3) Be a clearinghouse of news.
The Facebook page, and a bare bones website, remain the go-to resource for employee-centered Market Basket news. They are not run by a PR or social media firm, but by actual employees.
Sure, the writing and grammar often leave a lot to be desired, but the reporting and blog posts are real and authentic. The website has broken the news of several management firings as they happened. Inspired by the national attention, a Twitter account and Instagram account emerged, posting photos of the protests.
4) Inspire user-generated content.
Content generated by your online community is the holy grail! One Market Basket dairy clerk was inspired enough to make a mock movie trailer depicting the melt down: http://www.boston.com/business/news/2014/07/23/pass-the-popcorn-market-basket-has-its-own-movie-trailer/FUayrPB431vEaf2TZ0y1vN/story.html
I remember checking Facebook during the first week of the boycotts and my News Feed was littered with photos my friends had taken at local stores – empty shelves, empty parking lots. It was all a bit shocking – usually Market Basket is completely packed and you can’t even get into the parking lot, let alone get a pound of turkey at the deli!
The Save Market Basket movement did not make a coordinate ask to their customers to take such photos, but when they realized what was happening, they started tweeting and sharing the photos to make their point. What is life without Market Basket?
5) Ride the wave!
Once you get a bit of momentum, use it! The first employee protests and rallies started with traditional flyers and lawn signs, but grew to Facebook groups, Twitter and Instagram hashtags, Snapchat videos, etc.
Remember, the only formally organized efforts were the Facebook page and website – every other piece of content generated is by Market Basket customers and supporters passionate enough about the store and the issue to tweet, post and share the information.
6) Utilize all channels.
A micro-site was set up where supporters can sign up for email alerts. While the information is just a rehash of what is posted to the Facebook page, it was nice of the organizers to select a channel for those not using Facebook.
What will happen with all of this goodwill and social media chatter remains to be seen. It is also unclear if this outpouring of public online support will have any influence on the Board or the company overall – which of course is the most important thing.
How else can nonprofits learn from the #SaveMarketBasket social media success?