Embracing Your Local Advantage with Social Media

Nov 15, 2018

If posting to your store’s Facebook page is a task that gets overlooked or pushed to the back burner, you’re missing out on big opportunities for connecting with your customers and expanding your reach. That’s according to Eric Anderson, principal of AR Marketing in Findlay, Ohio. He started his full-service marketing firm after decades in the grocery business, so he understands the time constraints and business pressures unique to independent grocers. At the same time, he makes the case that you can’t afford to sit out on social media.

“You have to find new ways to talk to consumers and people who’re interested in your business as we see more and more traditional options start to dry up for independents and, frankly, for everyone. Social media is a great way to communicate to existing customers and the people who are connected to them,” he said.

Hometown Advantage

When it comes to social media, independent grocers have strong advantages over the chains and big boxes, said Anderson.

“IGAs are all about the hometown crowd and personalized service. You already have a strong relationship with your shoppers. The key is to translate that personal touch to social media to highlight your store’s assets and strengths,” Anderson said. And that is exactly what IGA retailers across the U.S. are doing every day—both on their own, and using AR Marketing as a turnkey partner. 

Check out these examples to see how IGA retailers are using social media to boost sales, cement their local identity, and create a lasting connection with shoppers.

Beer, Brats, and Unicorns: Ptacek’s IGA in Prescott, Wisconsin

  • Social strategy: Personal, focus on homemade offerings, fun and lighthearted.
  • Goal: Connect with customers in a humorous way. A series of short videos highlight different promotions, or show staff goofing off while making pizzas or talking about an upcoming meat sale.
  • Tactic: The videos are posted to the store’s Facebook account, with over 2,000 followers and/or Store Manager Pat Ptacek’s personal Facebook account, which is public and has more than 4,000 followers. The videos are shot by Ptacek’s wife, Joy, using an iPhone. He manages the store’s social media accounts himself and keeps the process simple and content easy to upload during his downtime.
  • Sales: While Ptacek doesn’t have exact numbers for sales that have resulted from the videos, he can positively report an increase that comes from each video. For example, a short clip posted September 28th that showed the guys in the “R&D Lab” making a house-made brat and cheese curd pizza (with homemade alfredo sauce!) saw a definite uptick in orders following the post.

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    • Engagement: A video from November 2nd shows an “unboxing” of new releases in the wine/beer/spirits department. At the end, (spoiler alert!) one of the subjects turns into a unicorn, after drinking a unicorn-themed energy drink. So far, that video has received more than 5,500 views and been shared 17 times. “For a town of 4,000 people, that engagement is extremely high,” Ptacek said.
    • Advice for other retailers: Try to do it in a fun manner. You have to give them a reason to want to watch it.

Fresh Off the Farm: Brackett’s Market in Bath, Maine

  • Social strategy: Story-telling, personal, shareable content. In the past, Brackett’s Market, which has more than 5,000 followers on Facebook, has seen success in what owner Kim Brackett calls the “local, community, and global” approach. She divides up content into people/things in the store, events, and other regional news and content that appeal to a wider audience. Her “lost and found” posts have received a lot of attention, such as a lost Elmo toy that she featured in photos around the store and a found wedding band that made it on the local news.
  • Goal: In a recent campaign, Brackett wanted to showcase produce from Jordan Farm in Chester, Maine. Located over two hours away from her store in Bath, Brackett saw an opportunity to provide a new source of fresh, local produce for her customers and to introduce this third generation family-run farm to her community.


  • Tactic: She published a series of photos on Facebook in the days leading up to the produce becoming available. First, the photos showcased the farm and the Jordan family. Then, the pictures featured her Jeep Liberty loaded up with 600 pounds of vegetables, followed by the produce on display at the store.
  • Sales: The Hubbard and buttercup squash, carrots, and six varieties of potatoes were put out last Thursday morning and by Tuesday the produce manager was asking Brackett when she was going back for more. “I know absolutely, from the comments being made to the cashiers and from the numbers, the Facebook post had major influence on people coming to buy this produce,” she said.
  • Engagement: Brackett spent $39 on boosting one of the posts, which reached more than 7,800 people and was shared 29 times.
  • Advice for other retailers: Educate your customers so they are already aware of new products before they even get in the store.

Streamlining Multiple Locations: Gary & Leo’s IGA. Three locations in Montana: Havre, Conrad, and Florence.

  • Social strategy: Local news and happenings combined with store specials and offers.
  • Goal: With three Facebook pages in three very different communities to manage, the goal was to find a way to streamline content creation and posting, as well as keep the local flavor for each, said Laura Malisani, one of Gary & Leo’s owners.

  • Tactic: To help give the store’s social media a more professional and polished feel, the owners signed up for the IGA Social program available in partnership with AR Marketing. Through the program, they have access to seasonal content, like a recent series promoting Thanksgiving staples such as pumpkin pie. Malisani works with all three stores to coordinate posts showcasing their hometown happenings that work in conjunction with AR Marketing’s efforts, such as a post about the Havre store taking orders for full course ready-to-eat Thanksgiving dinners. Having the basics shoppers expect taken care of through the IGA Social program leaves more time for posting the more personal things shoppers love--like updates on local events and photos from what's happening the store. 
  • All three Facebook pages have seen gains in customer engagement, which has helped specific campaigns like the recent IGA National Digital Ad roll out gain significant traction. “So far, the response is twice what we expected, and it’s going to build. People are using it, looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be wonderful,” said Malisani.
  • Advice for other retailers: Working with AR Marketing has been a very positive experience, said Malisani. “It helps you put your time and energy in the right place. We can’t do what they do in-house for the price they charge.”

IGA retailers: Need help setting up content, coming up with ideas and/or a strategy, or supplementing the posts you’re already doing? AR Marketing can work with you to meet your goals or take on some of the heavy lifting. And now until November 30th, the next 15 retailers to sign up for IGA Social will receive the first 6 months of service FREE! Learn more and sign up today at www.igasocial.com

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