Always Plugged In


Very rarely will you see Jared Sturtevant, CST’s supervisor of digital marketing, without some type of screen in front of him, be it his computer screen in the office, his smartphone screen while on the go, or his iPad screen while at home.

The first thing Sturtevant does each morning and the last thing he does each night — and pretty much all the hours in between — is monitor CST’s social media platforms, which include separate brand presences for Corner Store and Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes.

Among the social media platforms CST utilizes are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube. Sturtevant is also responsible for the company’s various websites, mobile apps, as well as its text messaging and email marketing efforts.

It’s a lot for his two-man department to handle, but what certainly helps is that Sturtevant is passionate about digital marketing and its potential, and he truly enjoys his job. He can’t wait to see the comments pour in when he knows a social media post is going to get a good response.

“We are always looking for that magical formula that resonates. Something that people relate to. Something that’s fun, engaging and gives a compelling reason to interact,” he said.

The 19-year Nice N Easy veteran, formerly director of marketing for the chain prior to CST’s acquisition, has been a champion of digital marketing since he first set up Nice N Easy’s Facebook page in 2009 from his iPhone while attending the NACS Show that year.

Digital marketing, however, is relatively new at CST, so the first part of this year Sturtevant spent working with his supervisors to set up a foundation for how the department would function within the overreaching marketing department.

“We’re after engagement primarily [on social media] because that’s what is going to drive interactions and ultimately drive people into our stores,” Sturtevant explained.

He estimates that about 40 percent of his time is spent executing across the various platforms — social media and the apps, predominantly — and the other 60 percent is spent on the planning and strategy piece. Since the acquisition, he has been traveling to the CST Service Center in San Antonio every three weeks to meet with the rest of the marketing team.

“We spend a lot of time on internal meetings, conference calls, meeting with vendors, reporting, analytics, website, SEO, local search, online display advertising, campaigns/sweepstakes, exploring employee engagement opportunities, training, coupons, admin, new tech, the company integration, and the list goes on,” Sturtevant said. “It really varies based on the need at the time.”

On the day of CSNews’ visit to Nice N Easy’s Canastota headquarters, he was busy moderating Corner Store’s “Share a Hero” contest, a 100-day campaign that encourages customers to share stories about their personal heroes and awards one $100 Corner Store gift card every day.

To enter, customers simply take a selfie photo pointing to a Coca-Cola product at a Corner Store and share it on Instagram, Twitter or at with the hashtag #shareahero. Entrants can feature Coca-Cola cans or bottles in their selfies labeled with the names of everyday heroes such as “Mom,” “Dad” and “Better half.” Coca-Cola is not an official contest sponsor.

One hundred people will win a $100 Corner Store gift card over the course of the campaign. Customers can enter three times per day, once on each social network, and their entry will have a chance to win every day for the duration of the Share a Hero contest.

“This campaign is going to create a lot of stories that are worth sharing on social media. We can leverage the stories created by our audience to drive traffic to our stores to buy Coca-Cola, while building our audience and growing engagement,” said Sturtevant.

While Corner Store’s social media audience is burgeoning, its greatest reach right now is through its mobile app where the primary target audience is millennials. “They are digital natives, they’ve been brought up with technology and they are the selfie generation,” he noted.

The beauty of apps is that “app customers, like social, are people who have already committed to liking you,” which makes them a receptive audience, according to Sturtevant.

For the marketing exec who graduated from college with a degree in sculpture, the creative side of digital marketing is what he finds most rewarding about his job. He admits to getting downright “giddy” when he posts something on social media that he knows is going to take off.

A recent post that hit the “giddy” mark was tied in to Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke campaign and asked fans to comment with a name they cannot find on a Coca-Cola bottle. On Nice N Easy’s Facebook page, the post got 935 comments, 172 likes and 29 shares. On Corner Store’s page, the same post got 2,370 comments, 1,184 likes and 95 shares.

“Social is fast-paced, new and exciting. And it’s rewarding to see consumers engage with our brands via social media,” said Sturtevant.

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