Analyzing the popularity of the links we’ve posted can be intriguing, if not baffling.
SSCS just passed its sixth year on social media, so we said time for a retrospective. Besides the blog you are reading (not the subject of this piece as we provided a blog retrospective a half year ago), we post links on a regular basis to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn from websites and sources that we think will be interesting to retail petroleum operators and the surrounding industry (drawing the attention of, as it turns out, some unexpected reader segments).
We post (or re-tweet) links on a daily basis, or more and, as you might expect, analyze daily reactions to our posts to see what’s clicking—no pun intended—and whether we can continue to hit their sweet spot. We’ve learned a lot over the last half-decade and have continued to grow our social media presence accordingly. Still, audience reactions can, from time to time, seem puzzling and capricious. But performance for any time of entertainment—our ultimate goal is to entertain you in a relevant way—predictability that’s the way they are for any form of entertainment, big or small. We dare say, that’s part of what makes it fun.
Without pulling back the curtain entirely and exposing too much of the magic, we thought it might be fun to talk about the popularity of some of the tweets we’ve put out over the years, along with a few others that bear some significance outside of how many people engage with them. This information is based on our own idiosyncratic experience, and is not meant to provide advice on what you’ll run into when you begin building your social media empire. We may be existing in an alternative universe for all you know.
Social media platforms, summarized
Before we get into the meat of the subject, let’s provide a smidgen of background information to get you started. Let’s start with some generalities about the approach and audiences of the three social platforms we use.
Our Facebook friends tend to be obsessed with the lighter side of the convenience store industry, namely food and drink, the weirder the better, and they like it presented in lists, charts, maps, and graphs. Nothing like linking “Best Pizza in Your State” or “The Best Convenience Store Fried Chicken” to ramp up the likes. And beer. Anything about beer. But that’s what you expect from what is probably the most pop culture-friendly of the platforms we use. Light-hearted content is king. Follow us and you’ll always know the best convenience store bathroom in your state.
LinkedIn is strictly business, or something approximating it. Most of the time. There’s a lot of original content—with many individuals vying to get an audience for their latest thought leadership piece. All those pundits! All those postulations! All those tips for SEO optimization! Who has time for reading about Patagonian sandwiches and extinct sodas?
We post our fair share of links to sources of industry expertise, and they are received well, but LinkedIn taken as a whole can be kind of overwhelming to the uninitiated. It’s definitely more serious than Facebook: “The Best C-store Bathrooms by State” just won’t get as much play here that it gets on Facebook.
Twitter is the mother lode for us. At least right now. For starters, it’s easy to curate a broad audience of c-store enthusiasts and selected others that have a good chance of liking what we put out. Then you just kind of sit back and see what garners a positive response. It could be ALMOST ANYTHING!! Of course, we’re not interested in posting just anything, but this is where you usually get the most unexpected reactions; it’s when your “hidden audience” pops up for a day or two of support, until they disappear again. You know they’re watching. You just don’t know when.
Twitter also provides the best opportunities for communicating with your followers through the use of Twitter tags. You can call your audience’s attention to promotions you think they might enjoy like an amine promotion at Lawson’s in Japan (those followers are motivated!), or a gas station doubling as an Airbnb (because who wouldn’t want to stay there!) With a little seasoning you can get pretty good at homing in on your audience. But it’s far from a science. As you’ll see later.
Convenience store historians might like to know that the SSCS Twitter account was born on April 30, 2013. Our approach has definitely evolved, as you can see from our first post:
We have short memories so we don’t know if this was Twitter status quo or us just conservatively getting our feet wet. One thing we know for sure, though, is that our Central Price Book price management solution has continued to develop and has more features than ever. That’s not going to stop anytime soon. But we digress…
Digging deep into the archives, we see that it took us about a year to start adding something a little more eye-catching to our posts. Our first visual post spotlighted a curbside gas station in Paris, France:
As it turns out, our spotlighting of foreign gas stations was a precursor to a trend, and it wasn’t long after that we published our first company “selfie” at a trade show. Our man in the booth still looks as good as he did then, but a lot less lonely. Pictures of trade shows are always good for attracting eyes. It’s a good thing we’re out consistently in the field making our presence known on a regular basis.
We began adding our own original and semi-original posts not long after. Our first attempt in August 2014 was straightforward, but succeeded at communicating its idea: the widespread scope of our customer network:
Uh, oh. We just noticed that we’re getting to the end of our first post, and we haven’t even gotten to the good stuff yet, so we’ll end with one last famous first before we leave: our inaugural gif, released about a year ago, which well could be an indication of what future content may soon look like:
Make sure you join us next week we take a deep dive into the likes of our followers, and get a chance to weigh in yourself. See you then.