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4 ways you can go digital

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1. Understand the tools. Not all social media sites will be appropriate for your business. Understand the pros and cons of each and focus on the most beneficial tools for you.

2. Be relevant. Share content that makes sense for your audience, and ensure you’re engaging them with a variety of information, including community events or issues.

3. Be present. Take social media seriously, and ensure you’re always on top of news, specials, innovation, and customer feedback. Customers will expect responses.

4. Ask for feedback. Ask your community what they’re looking for. Be sure to thank them for their ideas and implement them if appropriate.

At the 10th annual Convenience U CARWACS Show in Toronto, the industry’s digital leaders, including Greg Flom, co-owner of Leslieville Pumps and Kitchen in Toronto, Mike Ghesquiere, manager of trade marketing with Rothman’s Benson and Hedges (RBH), Claudia Calderon, director of marketing, portfolio occasions, with PepsiCo Foods Canada, and Dave Bryans, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA), gathered on a panel to discuss the need to create and embrace digital resources for the trade.

Connecting with customers

Greg and Judson Flom, who recently opened Leslieville Pumps and Kitchen in downtown Toronto, are taking their community online, with more than 450 likes on Facebook, and more than 750 followers on Twitter.

“I’m just a small retailer, so I may not have as many resources as larger companies or the ‘big guys’ in the industry, but social media is free. You just have to invest some time learning about the different channels,” says Greg. “We’re available on Twitter and Facebook, we’ve engaged ourselves on Yelp and Urban Spoon, basically anything that will get our message across to the widest spread of consumers that we can.”

He recommends striking a balance between posts that focus on in-store product offerings, and those that engage the community beyond your store. These retailers use social media to interact with customers and answer questions, but also to engage other small businesses to show an interest in the community around them.

He also has a Quick Response (QR) code on the back of his business card that connects to the store’s website, which has links to all of their social media pages, as well as information about location, hours, and their foodservice menu.

To find out what the industry’s other digital leaders shared during the panel, check out the November 2013 issue of YCM Magazine.