Wawa’s the buzz on Facebook?

From my NETT blog:

When discussing social media for small business, people often tell me “a Facebook page is fine for big companies and major brands who have an army of people and something to say, but I’m a small business. What on earth do I have to say that would make my customers want to connect with me while they’re chatting with their friends?”

They’re correct that Facebook is an effective investment for brands like Coke (22 million fans – NB, their page was started by fans, not the company), Starbucks (20 million), Oreo (17 million) or Red Bull (16 million).

But smaller, localised brands can have great success, as well. eMarketer reports that local businesses make up 17.6% of Facebook pages, making it the largest category. Large companies come in 6.3%, behind general interest pages and pages for musicians. Products, meanwhile, lag behind at 3 per cent.

I was at a digital marketing conference in the US recently where they mentioned the Facebook success of Wawa, a chain of service stations based in Pennsylvania with branches across five states on the US eastern seaboard. While they’re not strictly a small business, Wawa is a bricks-and-mortar business (you can’t buy petrol online) with a specific local market, a potential customer base that would number only several million people. Their Facebook page, meanwhile, has 600,000 fans – a staggering percentage of their entire target market. How do they do it?

One thing to consider is that they’ve been doing social media for a long time. They were using social media tools like Livejournal back when Facebook was only a gleam in Mark Zuckerberg’s (or was it the Winklevoss twins’?) eye.

As a result, they have nailed the raison d’etre for Facebook pages, which applies whether you’re a multinational or a hyperlocal. As eMarketer says, “Engagement, interest and constant connection keep fans coming back to a company’s Facebook fan page.”

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