The Midcounties Co-operative has been using social media to listen and talk to existing customers as part of a digital marketing strategy for a long time.  Recently, however, the team has taken innovate steps to successfully impact lead generation and turn conversations into new customers.

Neil Hardy, Head of eCommerce explains “We’re a co-operative based in the centre of England, and our trading areas cover a number of divisions from travel to food to pharmacy, funeral, childcare, energy and our business to business field called ‘flexible benefits’.” Hardy continues, “As such, using social media is key to engaging with our customers, potential customers and members, and as such increases lead generation on a day to day basis.”

The Midcounties Co-operative uses Meltwater to both manage PR activity and handle social media listening, engagement and analysis. Chris Pattinson explains “Meltwater provides us with insights, allows us to reach out to thousands of people, build brand advocacy and analyse the success of our marketing initiatives.” Pattinson elaborates, “We’re able to see campaigns that have produced a large reach but only a small engagement number, so we can quickly identify and address any issues.”

Lead Generation reaches 522 in One Week with Meltwater Facebook Competition

Historically, this engagement method on social media produced approximately two leads per week, as it is very time consuming to monitor a large number of themes and topics and engage with the audience. However, since implementing Meltwater for social monitoring and engagement, lead generation via social media has dramatically increased to between 9-11 new customers per week for the Travel division alone and a further five for the pharmacy and energy divisions.

Stephanie explains “this equates to over 700 new leads generated per year, allowing us to reach a much higher audience, raise brand awareness, increase growth and profits that both benefit members and keep customers happy.”

Monitoring competitors also provides The Midcounties Co-operative with instant insights, updates and relevant news about the market. “We see the news before our competitors do, so we can stay ahead of the curve” shares Pattinson. “While we have followers, fans and likes, Meltwater allows us to look at social networks, blogs and forums collectively in one place, which is time saving and cost effective. It helps us understand the reach of our messages and the success of our campaigns.”

The ability to schedule and plan ahead is a key benefit of the Meltwater service and key to the success of The Midcounties Co-operative’s presence on social media, Stephanie Balsom-Eynon explains: “We monitor key calendar events such as ‘birthdays’ or ‘Christmas.’ As Father’s Day is approaching, we have been listening to conversations, such as ‘what gift to buy’ we can then engage with the users and offer them some ideas and link directly to our Pharmacy page to further increase lead generation.”

Facebook Competition and the jump to 18,000 likes

The Midcounties Co-operative recognised the need to boost their Facebook following and increase engagement with both customers and potential customers.  One successful engagement strategy is to run a Facebook competition that attracts new followers and allows The Midcounties Co-operative to capture new user information for lead generation.

By implementing the Meltwater Rise feature to publish Facebook tabs, the user is able to manage unlimited tabs and run sweepstakes, surveys, upload videos and audio and run competitions. “We decided on the competition – Race to 18,000 Followers,” explains Stephanie Balsom-Eynon, “entrants were asked to like and share The Midcounties Co-operative Travel page, and enter their name, age, location and email address for a chance to win an iPad mini.”

And the results? In just one week, 1692 people had liked the Travel page, 1394 had entered the competition and 522 requested more information and updates on holidays from the Co-op Travel as qualified lead generation.  This was a 15% increase in The Midcounties Co-operative’s Facebook community.
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A Co-operative is a company that is fully owned by its members and customers and exists rather to serve its community than for pure profit. The Midcounties Co-operative is the largest independent co-operative in the UK with a family of businesses ranging from food, travel, pharmacy, funeral, childcare, energy and even post offices. It has an annual revenue of £1 billion, more than 9,000 colleagues, over 500 sites, more than 500,000 members and recently won the exclusive title ‘Co-operative of the Year.’

The Midcounties Co-operative has selected four key values (DOES) that are the main elements guiding business practices. They are: Democracy, Openness, Equality and Social Responsibility.