A convenience store with just five employees has proved size is no barrier to social media fame, after it developed an innovative method of marketing itself to the world.
While not the type of business one would usually associate with social media, Redfern Convenience Store in inner Sydney has amassed almost 12,000 followers – and still growing – over two years after taking to Instagram to celebrate its “Customer of the Day”.
“For my kind of business, it’s actually a really good [result],” the store’s owner, Hazem Sedda, told My Business.
Mr Sedda was inspired to take to social media after a high-profile friend and customer of his, television and radio presenter Ben Fordham (pictured with Mr Sedda), said he liked the store and its unusual mix of products and that more could be done to promote it.
He downloaded Instagram but figured that simply posting photos of the products was boring, so he opted instead to take photos of his customers with the products – which eventually evolved into a highly competitive prize post of “Customer of the Day”.
“That made the big move and the big success,” Mr Sedda said.
Asked if it was difficult to have those initial customers be photographed and uploaded to his social media account, Mr Sedda said he was somewhat surprised to find it was exactly the opposite.
“In our store, people came just to take their photo in my store,” he said, in a nod to the selfie craze where social media users post photos of themselves with unique products or in identifiable places.
The craze has since taken on a life of its own, with people stopping into the store specifically to try and receive the accolade of “Customer of the Day”.
That prize, however, is not dependent on spending money or buying particular products. Instead, Mr Sedda prefers to recognise the customer with the most interesting life story, or the best manners, or some other simple act of humanity.
“You take a photo of them, then they ask you to write their Instagram [post] and tag you in it, but when they leave the store, that’s not the end [of the experience] – they keep talking about it the whole way home,” Mr Sedda said.
“They are shouting in excitement at becoming ‘Customer of the day’.”
The simple act of featuring a customer and rewarding good deeds has become lucrative for Redfern Convenience Store, which has developed its own T-shirt to mark the campaign. Foot traffic and revenues have soared as a result, as people want to support the local business in return for its engagement with its customers.
And those customers aren’t just from the neighbourhood, with Mr Sedda admitting that people have specifically called into the store when visiting from across Australia as far afield as Asia, Canada and the US in an effort to land their faces on his Instagram page.
However, he cautioned that the time taken to manage the social media presence is no small feat.
“Sometimes I feel like Instagram is taking so much time,” Mr Sedda admitted.
“I do reply to every single comment, and every single request. I always follow it up. That’s what makes more of a connection with my followers.
“It does take a lot of time, and sometimes I want to think of another way to run the social media that will give me some free time. But at the end of the day, I still like to be involved [personally] in something like this.”
Mr Sedda will be presenting at a workshop on using Instagram for business on Wednesday, 25 July, in conjunction with the City of Sydney.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.