The Stuckey’s roadside convenience store brand lost its way over the years. But new CEO Stephanie Stuckey found the right path forward, through Alabama’s back roads.
Earlier in the pandemic, Stuckey recalled, “there was one pivotal moment that changed (things). I was traveling around looking at the Stuckey’s stores. I was like ‘Screw it. I’m going to take a photo and I’m going to say what I’m thinking.”
In a social media post on TikTok, Stuckey – who in 2019 reclaimed the business her grandfather founded 85 years ago – wrote how she was driving around the South, searching for old, “lost Stuckey’s” locations that, although enduring tough financial times, were “worth saving.” She added that she was “willing to do whatever it takes to not only bring them back, but to be part of bringing this economy back in our country.”
The persistent “dings” of her smartphone – 2,000 “likes” that day and 500,000 views within the month – helped Stuckey realize she had stumbled on to something: If she wanted to revitalize her family brand, one easy step included telling its compelling stories, via social media.
“Once you figure out what works, do more of that,’” she recalled, during a recent FI Live interview hosted by The Food Institute’s Susan and Brian Choi. “So, I started posting about my journey, and said ‘This is what’s happening to me; this is my day, this is what I’m experiencing.’ And people resonate with that.”
To be sure, there were other key steps along the way in the Stuckey’s recovery, like purchasing a manufacturing facility in early 2021 for the brand’s trademark pecan rolls.
But using social media consistently and creatively has made a massive impact, Stuckey says. And it has cost next to nothing.
Here’s Stuckey’s tips for using social media marketing effectively in 2022:
POST CONSISTENTLY: Stuckey has nearly 15,000 followers on TikTok and feels strongly that making social media posts daily is necessary for building a big following.
While some social media experts suggest posting five times a day on every social media platform, Stuckey knew that wasn’t realistic for her work schedule. So, she simply made sure to post at least once per day on platforms like Instagram.
“What’s realistic for me,” Stuckey explained, “is I can post one original post every morning. And then, throughout the day, I can comment and share. And you do that every friggin’ day, with very rare exception – unless you’re in the hospital or something.”
LEAN ON LINKEDIN: Almost every major business partnership that Stuckey’s has formed recently has been through a LinkedIn lead, its CEO said.
“LinkedIn is the marketplace for B2B, right?” said Stuckey, who has 97,251 followers on LinkedIn. “So, check those messages. I’ll get (LinkedIn) messages from people, or I’ll see people who comment on my posts, and I’ll pay attention to who they are. I’ll private message them and say ‘Have you ever thought about carrying (our) product?
“But,” Stuckey adds, “when I do my pitches, it’s not in the (social media) posts. The pitches are in private messages – that’s where you do your sales.”
FIND INSPIRATION ALL AROUND YOU: If you struggle to think of new, daily social media content, Stuckey suggests looking for anecdotes that virtually anyone can relate to. For example, she recently thought of a post that noted how nervous she was to give a speech at a community breakfast.
“People can relate to that,” she said of the anecdote. “Your days are full of stories, and those stories can be interesting; it’s in how you tell them.”
PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE: While it can be uncomfortable to take selfies and let social media followers have a glimpse into your everyday affairs, Stuckey said such posts are typically well-received (though she suggests avoiding political posts).
“Experiment,” Stuckey suggested. “Do different types of posts and see what works. I would post with myself, post a product, and post the stores I visited. … I saw with the metrics and analyzing the data that it was working.”
“Be who you are,” she added. “That’s one of the things that people resonate with and gravitate towards: they can live through you – through your experience – and find hope.”
TELL A STORY: Utilizing social media has made a “huge” impact for Stuckey’s, which has a minimal marketing budget. Nowadays, the company’s executives would rather spend money on employee raises, as the C-store brand continues its resurgence, with dozens of locations across the southern and midwestern U.S. and distribution to nearly 5,000 different retail units across the country.
And using social media to lead that ascent was rather easy, once Stuckey zeroed in on her brand’s most compelling element.
“I road-tripped as a kid, like everyone else, and we stopped at Stuckey’s,” the CEO explained, “and I remembered that experience. And that brand still has staying power. We really told the story of the road trip, which is at the core of what our brand is all about.”