For many small businesses, social media is a daunting, unwieldy task with results that are typically discouraging. Many businesses either don’t see the point in doing it or they try it and quit after not seeing any interaction. How many Facebook pages have you seen abandoned after a short life-span? You go to their page and the last post was 6 months ago. In my career, I’ve seen many.
Recently, an independent coffee shop in New Hampshire came to my attention through social media. I live in Southern California and have never even stepped foot in the state of New Hampshire so a local independent coffee shop would have never been on my radar much less caused me to start paying attention to it.
A&E Roastery is a small, independent coffee shop located in Amherst, NH. I became aware of them through a social media contest they started on their Facebook page celebrating their 10th anniversary. A&E Roastery bought in to social media. You can see that they began using Facebook as a business in January 2010. They have a corporate Twitter account, a foursquare account and a blog that is regularly updated with fresh and relevant content.
The contest was brought to my attention by someone in my social media network (and industry) who is a regular customer of theirs.
The genesis of the contest was the shop’s involvement in a local baseball league consisting of 8-9 year olds. A&E Roastery and their local PR firm collaborated on ideas with which to gain exposure for the shop in conjunction with their sponsorship. The contest was simple. Customers participated in and gathered votes to be proclaimed the MVP of the shop and win free coffee for the rest of 2012.
My involvement started only as one of supporting a friend in his quest to win this contest at a business he obviously frequents and loves. Over the next 9 days, it slowly started dawning on me that A&E had accomplished what not many small businesses (or large businesses for that matter) have been able to do… engage with their fans. You see, it’s easy to GAIN fans. Many people judge social media success by quantity. The more fans or followers I have, the better job I’m doing when, in fact, a more accurate measurement of social media success is engagement. How do the fans you have, regardless of the quantity, engage with you?
A mutual friend suggested I write a blog post about this contest. My initial reaction was skeptical. To be blunt, I didn’t believe there was much there to write about.
As I began digging in and really looking, I found amazing statistics and results from a contest that is still ongoing.
These statistics begin on May 7, the date the contest started.
- From January 2010 to January 2012, A&E had accumulated approximately 500 fans (approximately 20/month). Over the next 3 months (Feb-April), they added 107 for an average of about 35 per month. In the month of May alone, they’ve added 219 fans for an average of 14 per day.
- On May 6th, A&E Roastery was averaging 5 new likes per week with 30 people talking about them according to Facebook Insights. Within 6 days of beginning the contest, they’ve increased their likes per week by 5,100% and the number of people talking about them has increased 660%.
- Since the contest’s inception, the company itself has contributed 28 posts which accumulated 99 likes and 169 comments.*
- Since the contest’s inception, the company’s fans have posted on their wall a whopping 100 posts with a total of 271 likes and 134 comments.*
In 9 days, A&E Roastery’s Facebook page has seen 128 posts that have generated 370 likes and 303 comments.*
To put this into perspective, I looked at the Facebook page of the Penske Automotive Group. For those who don’t know, the Penske Automotive Group is the second largest publicly traded automotive retailer in the United States as measured by total revenue. As of January 18, 2012, (they) owned and operated 166 franchises in the United States and 169 internationally encompassing 42 brands. They are a Fortune 500 company with 15,000 employees. [Wikipedia]
Over the same period of time, Penske posted to their Facebook wall 6 times which generated 98 likes and 76 comments. Penske’s Facebook page has almost 16,000 fans.
A&E Roastery had more than triple the engagement with 15,000 fewer fans.
A&E has hit the equivalent of a social media grand-slam home run with this contest. The passion their customers have for them is evident in not only the engagement their contest is seeing but in the exposure it is generating for them.
I spoke with Emeran, the shop’s owner, about her thoughts and goals for this contest. She felt the key to the contest’s success to this point is the social media saavy customers she has that have contributed to generating the buzz. The question she’s looking to answer is one that’s all too familiar to social media professionals and business owners – “How does that translate to growth in business?”. She went on to say that “the challenge is to assess what our new network looks like now and how to target those new people and translate that into revenue growth on both the retail and wholesale areas.” She felt it would be interesting to see not only if it did but by how much even though she shared that she knew this would be a difficult task to accomplish. Some of her new fans being from outside her local market is actually one that works in her favor as, in addition to the operation of this local shop, she has a thriving wholesale business selling the coffee beans they roast themselves. A&E currently has quite a few local businesses that serve her beans to their customers and she certainly isn’t opposed to expanding her wholesale business to other areas of the country.
The initial round of voting for the MVP nominees is scheduled to be reduced to 9 at the end of this week with a new round of voting on the remaining contestants beginning. The contest itself is scheduled to end a the end of this month.
To all my fellow automotive coffee enthusiasts, you might want to give A&E Roastery coffee a try. In the age of Starbucks, not many independent coffee shops can generate the loyalty and following from their customers that A&E has managed to do.
There’s probably a good reason for that.
*Statistics complied through May 16, 2012 at 8:30am PST.