It’s one thing for a customer to pop into a convenience store if it’s the only option for miles and they’re in desperate need of a blood-sugar boost and cold beverage. But, it’s an entirely different story for a customer to actively seek your store out over another. There’s a lot of factors that contribute to the loyalty of this caliber — one of which has to do with your c-store’s ability to foster connections with that first-time visitor long after they’ve left your store.
The power of social media
Unless you’ve managed to snag a customer’s email or home address, it’s difficult to build and nurture customer connections beyond the walls of your store. That’s where social media comes in. With 72% of adults (ahem, your customers) on social media, this is one channel that gives you the customer access you need on a channel that most people visit at least once per day. Access is critical, so now the question is: How do you get your customers to voluntarily opt-in, or follow, your c-store on social media?
Earn, ask and incentivize
Getting customers to actually follow your c-store on social media may seem like a tall order (particularly for a first-time visitor), but it really just takes the right motivation. On Instagram alone, 90% of users follow a business simply because they want to connect with a favorite establishment. Often, a social follow simply comes out of a good in-store experience. With that said, a little nudge goes a long way. Post signs throughout your store promoting your social handles, personally ask customers to follow your store and even offer complimentary food, merchandise, coffee or discounts, and loyalty points in exchange for follows.
Make it worth their while
Establishing a follower base is an important and necessary step in your quest to connect with customers via social. But once you have the followers, make sure you deliver on your end. The photos, videos, articles and other content that you post on social media are a direct reflection of who you are as a brand. Ensure that the quality of your content is up to par. A grainy image or shaky video isn’t doing you any brand-building favors (and who wants to see that?). Also, think about what your audience actually cares about. If you want to connect with them, post engaging content and run fun giveaways, contests, and promotions that appeal to their interests.
Less is sometimes more
One of the most common marketing pitfalls businesses fall into is trying to “do it all.” Rather than leveraging every single social channel, tackle and master one at a time. This will ensure that you’re giving each social channel the attention it deserves and that you can deliver speedy responses, quality posts, and a thoughtful social experience. You’ve got a lot on your plate, so it’s sometimes helpful to assign a dedicated person to manage your accounts (hey, isn’t your new checkout person a marketing major?). Additionally, there are handy social media tools (here’s a list) that allow you to plan and schedule posts in advance, so you can free up time and focus on creating connection-worthy content.
Connection into the future
Social media isn’t going anywhere. C-stores are evolving rapidly to keep up with consumer needs and demands. Digital is a big part of that world. For more on the future of the c-store industry, check out our blog post, “The Future of the Convenience Store Industry.”
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