How Consumers Use Social Networks to Connect with Food Retailers: Finding a Retailer’s Social Network

Posted: June 11, 2012

Continuing with disseminating results from Internet survey, in today's article we provide a better understanding of how people are finding food retailers' social networks.
Figure 1.  Example of Twitter and Facebook links embedded into a business's email newsletter.

Figure 1. Example of Twitter and Facebook links embedded into a business's email newsletter.

We first asked survey participants whether they initiate a search on a social media site or on the business’s website or through their emails.  As you can see in Table 1, 21.2% began their search on either a blog site or on Twitter while over 36% initiated their search on Facebook.  However, these figures were significantly lower than those who first searched for the business’s social networks through the business’s website or emails.  Thus, it is critical that a business link its website and emails to its Facebook Page, blog, Twitter, or other social networks (Figure 1).

Table 1.  Online sources that participants first used to begin their search for a food retailer’s social network (blog, Facebook, and Twitter).

Social network
First searched a
social network site
First searched a business's
Blogs         21.2%              41.3%
        36.3%              55.1%
        22.4%              37.9%

Looking at demographic differences, females were more likely than males to try to find a business on a social media site before searching the business’s website.  Also, younger participants were more likely to look for a business on blogs and Twitter before searching the business’s website.  There was no difference in how they searched for a business’s Facebook Page.  Finally, those with higher levels of education were more likely to seek out a business’s Twitter account directly on Twitter before trying to find it on the business’s website or in emails.  When we looked at blogs, Facebook, and Twitter as a group, we saw that those with a Master’s degree and above were more likely than those with lower levels of education to first search the business’s website to learn about the business’s social media social media presence. Insert photo 1 (photo from Microsoft Clip Art)

Although there were some statistical differences between demographic groups as to how they searched for a business’s social media presence, two main points were clear.  First, the business should clearly indicate on its website how to connect on Facebook, Twitter, blog, or other tools. Second, those tools should be used to drive traffic to the website.  Hence, the two should have a symbiotic relationship.

In the next article, we will present data that discusses what online or internet tools survey respondents expected a business to use.  To view the entire YouTube series, please visit

Contact Information

Jeffrey Hyde, Ph.D.
  • Associate Director of Programs
Phone: 814-865-5666
Kathy Kelley
  • Professor of Horticultural Marketing and Business Management
Phone: 814-863-2196
Dana Ollendyke
  • Extension Associate
Phone: 814-863-5567