Thanks to the more than 1.4 billion active users on sites like Facebook and Twitter, social media has become one of the hottest ways to connect with consumers. While compiling its list of the 25 biggest c-store chains, CSP found that the most successful retailers referenced the growing importance of social media. And the numbers reflect their efforts: More than 6.28 million consumers are following the top 25 retailers on Facebook alone.
Most c-stores on CSP’s list offer important basics, such as store locations, customer feedback, career opportunities, coupons, and reward programs. Chains with a heavy focus on foodservice use Facebook to promote their in-store menus.
Many retailers also use social media to promote their philanthropic efforts. Last year, 7-Eleven Inc. partnered with Pepsi to donate 5 cents from every 20-ounce Pepsi product purchased at 7-Eleven locations to Feeding America, with the option of doubling donations by checking in to 7-Eleven on Facebook. Chevron (ExtraMile) offers a “We Agree, Do You?” app, which encourages users to “like” and share socially responsible messages such as “it’s time oil companies get behind the development of renewable energy” and “protecting the planet is everyone’s job.” From now until Sept. 15, Gulf Oil will donate 50 cents to the American Cancer Society for every new person who “likes” its Facebook page
Other retailers have increased their social presence by getting into the app game. Hess had huge success with its Hess Jet Game; released in December 2010 for Facebook and iPad/iPhone, the Hess Toy Truck-inspired app ranked within in the top 10 racing games on iTunes. The game’s popularity prompted Hess to release a follow-up Hess Racer Game in 2011.
Sheetz is known for its made-to-order (MTO) creations, and the company’s Facebook page features both an “Ultimate MTO Creation Contest,” where users can win a $200 Sheetz gift card for their entries, and a “Sheetz Shout-Out” promotion, which encourages fans to upload a 15-second video championing Sheetz’s Made-To-Order offerings in exchange for a free T-shirt and the opportunity to appear in a Sheetz commercial.
From games to charity, from hoagies to Slurpees, there is no shortage of opportunities for c-store chains to promote themselves online. But one thing is for certain: Top retailers recognize the importance of getting “social” with their consumers. (CSP Daily News: www.cspnet.com)