'Unknown' Wawa Rates High in Social Media 'Share of Voice'

And popchips, Lay's, others, leverage social media trends, says Mintel

Wawa Convenience Stores

3. Social media interactions are strong before purchase, supporting need for information-driven content.

"Despite recording among the lowest levels of usage and awareness among all back-to-school retailers, Amazon.com and Macy's report the highest levels of social media interaction among all brands at 67% and 65%, respectively. Parents are most likely to interact with Amazon.com before purchasing back-to-school items from the retailer (39%).

This speaks to people's lack of familiarity with the online retailer in regards to back-to-school shopping purchases and the need to research product availability and pricing before making a purchase. To further support this, 33% of parents surveyed have interacted with Amazon.com on social media to compare it against other brands. The high levels of people interacting with Amazon.com to share a positive experience (25%) may be linked to people interacting with the brand's review platform, with its review functionality often considered one of the original social networks and one of the cornerstones of the brand's business.

"Macy's reports similar patterns in interactions as Amazon.com, with people motivated to interact with the brand before buying it (32%) and to compare the retailer against other brands (27%). Macy's is the brand reporting the highest levels of people interacting with the brand on social media to get freebies or special offers (20%), to share a positive experience (18%), and to express excitement/satisfaction (16%). This highlights the level of satisfaction among those who have shopped with the retailer, and the opportunity for the brand to better connect with these satisfied customers to help increase positive mentions and interest in the brand online," said Gabi.

4. Brands empowering fans to express their creativity.

"Taste stands out as a leading driver of discussion online and an important factor in determining consumer consumption. Lay's 'Do Us A Flavor' social media campaign was built around the idea of tapping into each person's unique taste identity, empowering people to creatively design their ultimate taste experience. Lay's first introduced the campaign in the U.K., which saw the creation of the flavors such as Cajun Squirrel, and then brought it to the United States in 2013, which generated 3.8 million flavor submissions. Offering consumers a chance to participate in the innovation process empowers them and makes them feel more connected to the brand.

"Target's back-to-school online discussions are boosted by a dynamic marketing push aimed to make students feel like the retailer recognizes and has products that best appeal to their personal style. Target's 'virtual dorm room experience,' which targets college students and was launched in 2013, bridges the virtual and the physical worlds to create experiences unique to each student, at a time when these young adults are really beginning to get a sense of how their personal style translates into more meaningful purchases," said Gabi.

5. Employees, top executives moving front-and-center of brands' social media strategy.

"Apple's approach to social media has been one that chooses to rely on the customers to serve as the voice of the brand online. On Apple's 'Support' page, people can share issues or offer advice within the support community, which is led by Apple users from around the world. While for so long the brand has been able to rely on the community to help drive awareness and maintain positive brand associations, the increasingly competitive landscape has shown that it may finally be time to embrace social media, with initial steps taken by its leader.

CEO Tim Cook recently joined Twitter in Sept. 2013--something his predecessor Steve Jobs never did. The launch of Cook's Twitter account coincided with the release of the iPhone 5, and is notable in that it marks the beginning of a new era in the company that for so long rejected the need for social media in its marketing efforts.

Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller also launched a Twitter account in 2013.

"Wells Fargo launched a social media trial program in the fall of 2012, permitting 50 of the brand's more than 15,000 financial advisors to post content on LinkedIn and Twitter. Due to the success of the program--which is based in part on no major compliance issues--Wells Fargo announced that it plans to grant social media access to as many as 20% of its advisers, where they will be encouraged to grow their personal brand along with offering financial tips," said Gabi.

Part of CSP's 2014 Convenience Top 101 retailers