Nearly everything is going digital and that includes the way many businesses market to consumers.
Since billions of people are now active social media users, more businesses are jumping online to gain traffic and attention and to communicate with customers.
Marketing through social media is important for many area businesses, including Jack Williams Tire and Auto Service Centers, which has 36 retail locations and 12 warehouses throughout Northeast and Central Pennsylvania.
When Jack Williams Tire wanted to promote the Goodyear Blimp coming to the area recently, the business turned to social media.
The longtime Goodyear tire dealer posted a photo on social media encouraging people to visit the business’s website to enter a contest called “Catch a Ride, The Right Way” to win a free ride on the blimp. Five people won the contest and they were able to bring guests.
When the blimp flew into the area, Jack Williams Tire used social media again asking people to snap pictures of it, post them on Facebook or Instagram and tag @jackwilliamstire for the chance to win a free set of Goodyear tires. Dozens of people posted photos of the blimp and the winner was Thomas Dunbar of Wilkes-Barre.
Rebecca Griffis, marketing manager for Jack Williams Tire, recently met with Dunbar and gave him a certificate for the free tires.
Jack Williams Tire also recently used Facebook to promote its Labor Day deals, including its “buy three, get one free” offer on Nokian tires and savings on other brands as well as to post job openings.
With so many people constantly on their smartphones, Griffis said social media provides a great platform to interact with customers and to try to grow the business’ customer base.
When they are at car shows, she said they post on Facebook encouraging people to stop by the Jack Williams Tire booth to win a gift card.
Customers are encouraged to write reviews on Facebook and Griffis said that’s also important for business.
“It’s a way for customers to interact with you whether it be a good or bad experience,” she said. “At least we have that avenue to communicate with them to fix the problem.”
Responding to comments, direct messages and reviews on Facebook is a full-time job, she said.
Some of Jack Williams Tire’s Facebook posts are free and some are sponsored ads. For more people to see the post, Griffis said “you have to put some money behind it but it pays off because it gets the word out.”
Gerrity’s, which has nine supermarkets in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties, promotes things like its “Dinner of the Day” and “Mom’s Deal of the Day” on Facebook.
In celebration of 123 years of Gerrity’s, the family-owned regional supermarket chain is giving away $1,230 in gift cards, with a top prize of $500 and promoted this on Facebook as well. Facebook users could click a link to enter the gift card contest.
Joe Fasula, co-owner of Gerrity’s, said when they posted on Facebook that they had cotton candy grapes available for sale, they flew off the shelves. He described that as “incredible” social media engagement.
“The nice thing about Facebook is once you build your following, you can be creative how you engage people and get people to engage with your page,” Fasula said.
Facebook allows businesses to advertise for free but Fasula said Gerrity’s also sponsors ads that are seen by more people.
Gerrity’s has about 31,150 followers on Facebook and he said he is able to see how many people are seeing the posts.
Gerrity’s tries to target customers through their smartphones and desktops. The store’s target demographic is mainly women age 25 and up who have children and who do the grocery shopping, he said.
In addition to digital marketing on Facebook or through Google, Gerrity’s also advertises on different websites for a low cost and Fasula said it is relatively easy.
“The wonderful thing about advertising on Facebook or doing any type of digital advertising is the ability to target a specific demographic and seeing if we are reaching people who are potential customers,” Fasula said.
Justin Matus, Ph.D., associate professor of business at Wilkes University, said there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach or a silver bullet for businesses to use social media marketing to build a brand and boost sales.
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram allow businesses to test the waters to see what works for them, he said.
A business trying to target young people might choose to use platforms like Instagram and Snapchat over Facebook, he said.
While platforms to promote products have changed with social media, Matus said businesses that are successful have good products and good service.
“At the end of the day, a lousy product or service is not going to benefit from Facebook or social media,” Matus said. “At the end of the day, you need a good product and good service and the right place to promote it.”