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Sharing Your Story Through Social Media

In the three years it has been in business, Nikiski Hardware & Supply in Nikiski, Alaska, has not only become the go-to spot for home improvement items and household products, it has established itself as a community hub and gathering spot. One of the owners, John Quick, uses social media to connect with current and potential customers and shares his best practices for using social media to expand your operation’s reach.

Social media is about sharing your story with the world. It might seem like a challenging task to promote a hardware store on social media, but I would argue it is relatively simple. 

You have several factors in your favor when it comes to marketing your hardware store.

  1. Nostalgia. People often associate a hardware store with their childhood. They get a warm and fuzzy feeling when thinking about going to the local hardware store with their dad or grandpa in their childhood. They may even have fond memories of picking out tools to work on weekend projects. 
  2. Endless product shots. Every hardware store has thousands of products to showcase. Each of these products are unique and can be used as content for a social media post. 
  3. Authenticity. Social media allows you to show the authenticity of you and your business. Most people on social media attempt to portray inauthentic versions of their lives and only show what they hope to achieve one day. As a business owner, you are a big deal. Documenting the behind-the-scenes efforts of a business owner can inspire followers. Maybe share how you do your ordering each week, come up with endcaps, pick which items will be on sale or partner with local charities and put on community events. The list goes on. The point is that you don’t need to make extravagant things up to post; just highlight what you are already doing. Trust me, it’s enough.

Think of social media as an ongoing biography of your hardware store. You are telling the true, authentic story about the life and times of your store. You don’t need to make it seem perfect, buy an expensive camera or hire a Hollywood scriptwriter to create the copy for your post. Instead, take photos yourself and simply write from the heart. 

For the most part, social media doesn’t work for businesses because the person in charge wants it to be perfect and is too nervous to start posting content. Remember, when the bank or a hardware franchise eventually said yes to you, your pitch or application was not perfect. However, they took a calculated chance on your success. They took a risk. With the same spirit that got you to open your hardware store in the first place, take a risk and start telling the story of your hardware store, why it exists and how it is helping solve a problem. 

Here are some tools that you can use for posting content that have been helpful to me: 

  1. Word Swag. You can use Word Swag to create an unlimited amount of custom word memes. They offer thousands of photos you can use as backgrounds, and the best part you can make them in just a few minutes. 
  2. Portrait mode on the iPhone. Portrait mode is great for product shots. Grab a product and place it anywhere on your counter and portrait mode automatically blurs the background and makes any product stand out. Of course, you can also hold the product up and achieve the same results. 
  3. Facebook Live. This is an easy and free tool you can use regularly. Don’t worry if you are nervous; practicing will make it easier. Facebook Live is a great social media tool as it will deliver more free reach than any other type of post. Anytime there is a “thing” at your store, such as a sales event, farmers market or weekend barbecue, you should be doing a Facebook Live to highlight it. 
  4. Facebook Ads. I know you have $200 a month in marketing money to spend. So, what should you spend it on? A Facebook ad. It is absolutely essential to spend money on Facebook. It’s always so dumbfounding to me that VERY few people in this business are spending any money on Facebook. Follow this formula if you want more reach and people to be involved on your Facebook page: For every post you make, boost it for at least $5 for four days. When you boost the post, Facebook automatically selects options for you. You will want to change a couple of those. First, choose more engagement as your target instead of automatic. Then select the “No” button instead of “More Messages.” You should also choose your target and target your town. It will automatically draw a 25-mile circle around your town and target those people. Do that for a month, and you will be reaching 50,000 more people a month.

About Lindsey Thompson

Lindsey joined the NHPA staff in 2021 as an associate editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. A native of Ohio, Lindsey earned a B.S. in journalism and minors in business and sociology from Ohio University. She loves spending time with her husband, two kids, two cats and one dog, as well as doing DIY projects around the house, going to concerts, boating and cheering on the Cleveland Indians.

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