Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bemidji Meat Shop Triples Walk-in Traffic Using Facebook

When you think of a business that really uses broadband technology, you probably don’t think about a meat market. Think again. The Stittsworth Meats Facebook page has landed in the top one percent of businesses in the United States for the largest number of Facebook followers (in the private business category).
Mike Stittsworth bought the business from his father three years ago.  At that time, it was located in a spot that was “off the beaten path,” and Mike decided to try using Facebook to get more people in the door.
Mike credits Facebook with making a huge impact on the business, saying that he believes it is directly responsible for 50% growth of the growth he’s seen.  The number of Stittsworth Meats’ Facebook followers has grown to a whopping 10,977 (as of this writing), the largest number of followers of any business or organization in Bemidji. Thanks to the viral nature of social media, the actual number of people who see his posts in their newsfeed is as high as 180,000 people.
The largest impact that Facebook has had on Stittsworth Meats is an increase in the number of customers, with daily walk-in traffic tripling since the business started using it.  The number of Facebook followers really started to grow when Mike offered his customers a chance to compete for a $200 Stittsworth Meats gift card. The winner was the one who shared the Stittsworth Meats Facebook page the largest number of times with their friends. The competition created a lot of buzz, regularly driving customers in the door to ask who was winning.
One of Mike’s secrets is that he doesn’t use Facebook to sell things.  “I just post pictures of stuff that looks or sounds impressive,” he said.  “I think that’s been good because people don’t feel like I’m pushing stuff on them.” 
Mike feels it’s important for business people to put themselves in the shoes of their customers.  If a customer is continually bombarded by repetitive posts, or feels that a business is constantly trying to sell them something, they might not want to see that business in their Facebook timeline. That’s not to say that Mike doesn’t post to Facebook very often.   According to Mike, he posts “frequently, sometimes two to five times per day.”
Mike believes that customer interaction is one of the most important aspects of a successful Facebook strategy.  “The more you can get people writing back to you—that’s the key” he said, “getting people to interact with you, rather than just pumping information out.”
Stittsworth Meats has been in the family since 1993 when Mike’s father and uncle purchased the Nymore Food Mart which had been in operation since 1899.  Their goal was to create an “old-fashioned meat market,” focusing on high quality cuts of meat, including steaks, roasts, ham, deli meats, cheese, and homemade smoked sausages and meats. 
Mike and his wife purchased the business in 2010, with a desire to continue the old-fashioned meat market traditions while looking for new ways to grow the business. 
The concept of family is one that Mike places a great deal of value on—even through his Facebook communications with customers. “There’s a ton of interaction through Facebook,” Mike said. “It’s almost like an extended family business...our customers are part of the family.”

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