This is the third in a series of blog posts called #SocialSuccess. Each month we will catch up with a local business in the Tri-States (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania area) and interview them about how they use social media to grow their business. For March, we caught up with Allyson Gillinder, director of retail operations for Gillinder Glass Store in Port Jervis, New York. You can find Gillinder Glass Store on Facebook. Here we go:

Question: Please tell me briefly about Gillinder Glass Store – what area does it serve, what types of products and services does it provide?

Answer: Gillinder Glass Store is a retail gift store located within the Gillinder Glass factory in Port Jervis, New York. All the unique gift ware in our store is hand-made by us, our guest artists, local artists, or other North American artists. The gift store is also host to special events, like our recent Design a Sun Catcher contest, as well as our guided factory tours. Our Monday-Friday factory tours run three times a day during which time one has the opportunity to watch actual production of our glass workers making globes and lenses, perhaps airport runway lenses, or landscape lenses, or other industrial and commercial lenses and globes using the process of gathering and pressing glass into molds. Several times a year, Gillinder Glass Store hosts special events featuring guest glass artists who demonstrate the time-honored craft of glass blowing. Gillinder Glass is also a major area employer as well as an active supporter of our community, participating in many local events.

Q: How many different mediums do you use to market Gillinder Glass Store? For example: Direct mail, print advertising, online advertising, radio, TV, social media, and which are the most successful in terms of driving in-store sales, and other business goals you have?

A: Gillinder Glass Store advertises in three local newspapers, several magazines, on local APPs, as well as posts on Facebook. We also post our activities on online calendars and websites. Our sign on I-84 drives traffic off the highway and through town, and ultimately to us. Hopefully these visitors also stop at other local businesses on their way through town.

Q: Which social network(s) is Gillinder Glass Store on? (Facebook, any others?)

A: Gillinder Glass Store uses Facebook.

Q: What are your goals in using social media?

A: Our goal using social media is to increase sales by driving conversation and traffic to our website and ultimately into the store or to a phone order. Of course we would like to increase current customer loyalty as well as to reach new customers through social media.

Q: What types of content do you include on Facebook?

A: Because we are such a unique business, our posts vary, from covering what is happening in our factory, our guest artists, our production, as well as posting new items in our gift store, and our fun annual Design a Sun Catcher contest. We include photos as often as we can. We find that posts that include photos of our guest artists making glass, posts that involve people (like our sun catcher contest), or posts showing us making glass in the factory for the gift store have been the most successful in terms of engagement.

Q: Tell me more about the Design a Sun Catcher contest.

A: A perfect example of a post that did exceptionally well was on Feb. 23 announcing the winners of our recent Design a Sun Catcher contest. As of this writing (a little more than 24 hours after posting), it had reached over 1,400 people! Interestingly enough, it is a rather long post, which I typically try not to do, but it was of interest to so many people because the audience knows the people mentioned in the post. The goal of the post was to not only create buzz and conversation about the contest (which I believe we accomplished), but ultimately to create enough interest in what we do and offer to attract new customers to Gillinder Glass Store.

Q: How many people are involved with social media at Gillinder Glass Store, both in terms of content creation and responding to comments?

A: The social media guru at Gillinder Glass Store is me. I create content and respond to comments.

Q: Has Gillinder Glass Store tried out Facebook ads?

A: Gillinder Glass Store has not yet ventured into Facebook ads.

Q: How do you measure your success of the Gillinder Glass Store Facebook page?

A: In the store, we ask customers if they have been on our Facebook page (or website), and we keep track. Many times our customers will come in specifically for something they have seen on Facebook and tell us so. Or they may call to order something they saw on Facebook. Any time they mention this, we keep track. Periodically I will look at the Facebook Insights and Google  Analytics when time permits.

Q: You recently reached 1,000 Likes on your Facebook page. How did you do it, and how did you celebrate?

A: We now have over 1,200 likes! When we reached 1,000 likes in July 2014, we had a special sale for our Facebook fans, called a “Flash Sale.” It lasted for 48 hours, and we offered 25 percent off an entire purchase of gift ware if the customer mentioned that they like us on Facebook. When I post to Facebook, I ask people to share, and I also share our status on other people’s pages (with their permission) who have a lot of fans. Currently there’s a post announcing the winners of our recent Design a Sun Catcher Contest that was seen by over 1,000 people in less than 24 hours. It has been shared by several people, has many comments — and has resulted in several new “likes.”

Q: What advice would you give to other small businesses when starting on social media or how to improve their social media?

A: My advice would be to post often, but not too often (no more than once daily, perhaps only a couple of times a week), not too lengthy, include an interesting photo or video and make each post count — attention-grabbing, well-written information (nobody wants to read posts littered with errors — at least I don’t!). Perhaps, if appropriate, include a question in the post to engage the reader.  Finally, respond in a timely manner to all comments and questions, and keep it positive (even if the comment is negative!).

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