Bemidji’s Stittsworth Meats finds success using Facebook to say hello rather than delivering sales pitch
BEMIDJI — Stittsworth Meats of Bemidji has found a cutting edge in the high-stakes game of small business: Facebook.
The vast majority of Stittsworth’s posts are of pictures of meat. That’s it.
The shop’s owner, Mychal Stittsworth, says that’s exactly why the page is so popular.
“Some Facebook pages… I get turned off when they’re not showing me what makes them unique, but they’re just trying to sell to me all the time,” he said. “I like to see what they’re making, so that’s kind of the approach I take to it.”
Mychal began the page when he was dissatisfied with the amount of foot traffic coming through the old Stittsworth location in Nymore. The enormous following the page has cultivated combined with the move to a more prominent location on Paul Bunyan Drive has supercharged business, he said.
“I didn’t really realize the following we were going to get,” he said.
If Stittsworth Meats didn’t have Internet access, they wouldn’t have the massive exposure, Mychal said.
“We wouldn’t have near the visibility,” he said. “Everybody uses the Internet now.”
The shop uses Facebook to connect with people by taking them inside the meat’s preparation. Both the praise and the criticism they receive on Facebook is helpful, Mychal said.
“We’re not afraid to put (it) out there, what we do,” he said. “It kind of helps us evolve our product.”
Recognized by peers, experts
Mychal also advised would-be social media marketers to make sure they update their pages with fresh content. Otherwise, their fan following starts to drift away, he said.
“You have to keep people interested,” he said.
Stittsworth was recently featured in the study conducted by Impact 20/20, a group connected with the Northwest Minnesota Foundation that seeks to expand rural broadband Internet access, among other business-growing initiatives. The study also showcased other Bemidji businesses, including Italian-themed restaurant Tutto Bene and rice/grain producer InHarvest.
Nancy Vyskocil, president of the foundation, attributed Stittsworth’s success to the fact that rather than posting things designed to directly increase meat sales, they use it simply to post interesting tidbits like a photo of heart-shaped steaks on Valentine’s Day.
“They… aren’t using it to push selling. They’re really kind of creating a sense of community,” she said. “They do fun things, they do spontaneous things. It’s always interesting to see what they do.”
The huge following on Facebook has boosted sales for Stittsworth despite the fact the shop doesn’t usually try to sell things through the page, but rather, because of it.
“Building that relationship gets the customer in the door, because they’ve seen something that peaks that interest,” Vyskocil said.
The goal of Impact 20/20’s study was to show how even a seemingly low-tech businesses can benefit from high-speed internet access — a point that Stittsworth Meats illustrates to a T, Vyskocil said.
“Stop for just a moment and think of one of the lowest-tech businesses you can think of: a man with a cleaver,” she said. “We wanted to show the businesses on main street all throughout northwest Minnesota...that it’s not what you think. It’s not the tech-y businesses, it’s every business that can benefit from using these tools. Just get creative. Be who you are, and present yourself that way.”