Alexandria, Va. — Social media is telling a story, according to retailer Anthony Perrine.
So how can convenience stores share their story on platforms like Instagram, Facebook and TikTok?
Perrine, president, Lou Perrine’s Gas & Groceries, and Ariel Rubin, director of communications at Des Moines, Iowa-based Kum & Go, answered this question and more on a webinar for NACS’ Crack the Code event.
Click through to see highlights of the social media experts’ tips…
Tie it Into the Store
Perrine said he still encounters customers who remember his grandfather pumping their gas. The family-owned c-store has served Kenosha, Wis., for more than 60 years, so they highlight that history on their social media accounts.
On Veteran’s Day, for example, Perrine posted a photo of his grandfather, “Grandpa Lou,” to the store’s Facebook page, thanking him for his service.
Whatever a c-store posts, it should be relevant to its brand.
Perrine said he is far from conservative, and he lets his personality show through the store’s social media accounts. He’s not afraid to post about 4/20 (which celebrates marijuana) or to reference other chains on Lou Perrine’s pages.
“Must have been a Speedway employee,” a post, followed by emojis, read on Lou Perrine’s Facebook page above a photo of a smashed pumpkin in front of the store.
While celebrating wacky holidays may come off as silly, “that’s who we are,” Perrine said. “Not everybody is like that.”
Handle Complaints Immediately
One downfall of having an edgy voice on social media is that not everyone will like what you post.
“It’s a double-edged sword, where sometimes you offend people,” Perrine said.
When the company posted a photo celebrating world orgasm day, it received some heat. Perrine didn’t delete the post, though. He responded publicly to complaints, and even invited the woman who spearheaded many of the complaints in to speak with him. Perrine said he listened to the women’s feelings, apologized—and now she’s a regular customer.
He did change some of his posting protocols afterwards. Now Perrine will run a post by his wife or manager, and keep in mind the audience of the social media site to which he’s posting. Facebook, for example, tends to have older users who may not find edgier posts amusing, he said.
And important part of social media is making mistakes, Rubin, of Kum & Go said, and management needs to recognize this.
“Trust your people, let them make mistakes,” he said, adding it is the only way to learn, and in the world of social media, people will move on to something else the next day.
Stand for Something
On June 8, less than a month after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, a Black man, Kum & Go tweeted, “we are finally ready to tell the uncensored true story of how we got our name. buckle up because it’s a wild one...”
A link shared beneath it directed viewers not to a story of the Des Moines, Iowa-based chain’s name but to the Legal Defense Fund, a legal organization that fights for racial justice.
C-stores need to use their platform to stand for something and for building audiences for when they have something to say, Rubin said. That Tweet, as of Dec. 1, received more than 30,000 likes and 6,500 retweets.
While the time spent on social media is important, so is the time a stores spends offline.
Rubin said Kum & Go finds ways to bring the digital hype and energy the brand creates to stores and store openings through giveaways.
He also will send merchandise to social media followers, as well as celebrities, who often share the Kum & Go brand even further.