The view from St. Paul–specifically St. Catherine University looks a lot like this today. Although I wish the sidewalks around the neighborhood were as clean as the ones in Teresa Boardman‘s photo below–I trudged through a lot of deep snow to get to campus.5293171188_af3aaa55fc

Minnesotans seem to be natural innovators who can spend an hour talking about the weather while coming up with new ways to enjoy it. Social media give us that power, too. If you’re reading this blog, you already know that social media gives voice to small businesses in a crowded media landscape. The secret is not being everywhere, but being different–making yourself stand out where your customers are.

Two years ago we had a glorious December blizzard in St. Paul that dumped about a foot of snow and effectively shut down the city for the day. I wrote about the Groveland Tap’s half price offer and praised their marketing. They were open and their target market mostly lived within a 2-mile radius. How could they make people want to brave the weather and savor a Summit and a Juicy Lucy? I wish I had a picture of all the skis and snowshoes lined up against the building that day. This kind of nimbleness requires leadership AND a sense of humor. Just think about the great Oreo (slam) dunk on Twitter during the Superbowl.

UPDATE  9:15 pm:  And while you’re thinking about the snow in your neighborhood, you could take Scusi up on their offer posted on Facebook around 8 pm!

Facebook offer from Scusi Wine Bar
Facebook offer from Scusi Wine Bar

Are you enjoying today’s snow?

What’s happening in your neighborhood?

What are your favorite businesses doing to make you want to stop by?

What could they do?

How could they use social media?

12 responses to “Be Nimble with Social Media–Make the Snowstorm Work for You!”

  1. schang2 Avatar

    I am enjoying today’s snow actually. I hear some of my peers complaining, but chances are it’s because they are driving. I enjoy the fresh new snow. It looks so fluffy and innocent. The only thing I dread is it’s dangerous nature on the road. I enjoy the snow, but I cannot wait for it to really look like spring.

    I live on campus, so not much is happening. I feel like the campus is a bit quiet today due to the unexpected amount of snow we are having in March.

    Favorite business? I have many, but right at this very moment I am craving Noodles n’ Company. It’s probably the idea of having warm soup on this snowy day and just cuddling under my blankets that teases my craving for Noodles n’ Company. I sure could use some right now. As of now, browsing on their Facebook page, they do not currently have anything appealing towards the mid-west states. However, my suggestions would be to possibly keep updated with the weather and take pictures of food that would be appealing to that region. For example, in Minnesota and the mid-west states that are still under winter weather; they post pictures of food that are ideal for the winter season.
    Unfortunately, on their website, it shows that Noodles n’ Company are only in some states. Fortunately, there are Noodles n’ Company in Minnesota!

    Besides using pictures to appeal to customers, they can possibly generate print ads or even TV ads. I have not seen any print ads or TV ads advertising their service. I have not heard of a catchy phrase to represent them either, so maybe print media and TV ads may be in their future marketing plans.

    1. krmancini Avatar

      Are you enjoying today’s snow?
      The snow is great! I have been outside all day playing in snow!

      What’s happening in your neighborhood?
      In my neighborhood everyone is outside shoveling, snow blowing, and playing in the snow! The plows finally just plowed out street.

      What are your favorite businesses doing to make you want to stop by?

      On twitter Target just Tweeted about all there new spring arrivals. It’s making me really jealous because I can’t there due to the snow. I will most likely make a pit stop there over the weekend.

      What could they do?

      It would be nice if they would post some pictures on twitter of some of there new arrivals!

      How could they use social media?

      If they were to post a coupon on all new arrivals, I would fit the snow and get there!

  2. sakiczula Avatar

    No, I am not enjoying today’s snow. As pretty as is it I’m longing for spring. I’m ready to shed my heavy coat, boots, other winter accessories, and frolic in a t-shirt and shorts once again. But we always have a freak storm like this once a month until May-ish?

    I live on St. Kate’s campus and I’ve just been busy with my personal schedule of school and work. However, I am aware of the snow emergency that I will have to participate in to move my car around campus.

    My favorite businesses are Photography Studios and Companies I follow on Facebook. Today in particular they seem to be updating their photo albums with tons of new photo sessions. So in my free time today I’ve been gradually clicking through and enjoying their work.

    For most of these businesses they’re Minnesota or Midwest based and most of the midwest has been attacked by this snow storm. I have seen a couple do this already where they took their family out in the snow and had a fun family session to share with their fans and followers. A suggestion I’d make to these businesses is have a photo contest of what was the most exciting thing they did that day or to build the ultimate snowman and then send in a photo of it. This will create a more intimate connection between the company and customer.

    As they already have a big fan base on Facebook they can post this at the beginning of the day and/or the night before the snow storm to start getting a stir on it. and not close the contest until a day or 2 after [maybe more if needed]. They could also post it on their Twitter, Blog, and possibly if they have a YouTube channel.

  3. lmdooner Avatar

    -The snow is indifferent to me. I am kind of sick of it just for driving reasons and conditions but other than that it’ll come regardless if I want it to or not.

    -Surprisingly my neighborhood is still operating like it normally does. Maybe a few less cars on the road but hey it’s Tuesday. Life still goes on whether there is a snowstorm or not!

    -So I checked my favorite places around St. Kate’s/Highland to see what they were doing and they either A) posted like it was a normal day or B) did not post anything. This was only for today, however. I picked Menchie’s, Sweeney’s, and Izzy’s Ice cream. Menchie’s won overall because there posts are fun and they offer different creations to try which makes me want to stop in there all the time and try them! They also post more than once a day usually, which makes it a better chance of people seeing at least some of their posts. Sweeney’s just posts about their daily special, but they also post about their new beers on tap which makes it a little more inviting since some sound good to try! They post once daily..sometimes a little more, or a little less. Izzy’s just posted about their flavor of the day which sometimes sounds delicious but they aren’t tagging much with it to appeal better or make it more attractive to stop in there! (Which they should especially when it is cold out!)

    -Menchie’s is doing well so I’m not going to touch them. However Sweeney’s and Izzy’s definitely need to post a bit more. Izzy’s could make up something witty about the snow and ice cream or they could offer some sort of treat like a free izzie scoop if you stop in while it’s snowing. Izzy’s is the hardest because it’s cold ice cream in the winter. Sweeney’s could also post witty to the older crowd for beers and what not or post more about their happy hour and weekly specials! I know Sweeney’s is popular for the “after work crowd.”

    Menchie’s does well on facebook. Izzy’s and Sweeney’s seems like they connect their twitter to their Facebook which is OK but sometimes I think it would be better if they would tweet a little more. Maybe they could gain more followers. Both Izzy’s and Sweeney’s have more Facebook likes than Twitter followers.

  4. marymcgrane Avatar

    It’s a love/hate relationship with me and snow today…well every winter actually.
    Hate because,
    I didn’t get to go into my internship today because of it and I was going to be starting to work on a new event. (sigh) Until I go in again.
    Love because,
    On my day off I made a healthier version of homemade pop tarts and mini ones at that because everything is better in a mini version. On top of that i made some pumpkin pie ice cream using the left over dough from the pop tarts and baking it with cinnamon and suger and mixing it my pumpking ice cream to give it that pie sensation. Turned out quite tasty!

    I live on campus at St. Kate’s still so I didn’t really go off today much. I felt pretty unproductive besides the baking and getting some homework done.

    Caribou coffee did a snap shot with a very short caption that I thought was cute. They took a picture viewing outside the front windshield of a car so you see it snowing with a coffee cup on the dash board and a pair of sunglasses. It simply said, “Driving buddy.” I love it! Short, simple, but gets people to think that if they have to be out today when it’s cold, why not have something hot to drink and keep them company.

    I really liked what Caribou did to get people in, however if you don’t have something warm you are selling it’s not as effective. It would be a good idea, to get the community involved like Caribou that’s in walking distance of the campus, to have the people on campus to walk over and “enjoy the snow.” while they are drinking their coffee to stay warm, have a snow ball fight, build a snow man, make a snow angel. Have these customers send in their pictures of their creative makings while drinking their coffee and have people vote on their favorite. Most of this would be through social media channels since it would reach people the fastest.

    Social Media is so useful on a day like this to reach your customers in a fast way. When I was looking, I was kind of surprised at how many businesses hadn’t posted anything today. I work a little with the facebook for the bakery i worked at in my home town and they posted this today. “Do-Nut it get cold” and they had a buy a coffee, get a free roll going on. since it’s such a small town some of the older generation still doesn’t use any social media and refuse to. So, I created a sign for them and sent over the design and they printed it and put it outside the door as well as posting on their facebook. It went over really well, so they told me anyways.

  5. reschilling Avatar

    Hi Sara,

    Personally, today’s snow and I are not the best of friends. But three hours of heavy shoveling can do that to a person. I do love snuggling up to some hot chocolate and watching a movie on snowy days, though (I’m about to put in Pitch Perfect!).

    It’s been pretty quiet in my neighborhood. Schools were closed but I didn’t see many people out when I was shoveling. I guess even the young ones are over the snow today (or maybe they’re just less adventurous and are sitting inside on their iPads). I can see the highway from my house and it didn’t look all too pleasant, though.

    Two of my favorite businesses have utilized social media during the storm to get me to want to brave the weather (and the roads!) to get to them. First, The Tea Garden always has double swipe rewards days on Tuesdays, so they always post about that, but today they were lighthearted about the snow when bringing it up posting “When you’re done shoveling don’t forget to come in for Double Swipes. #swipe #swipe” and “Double Swipe Day passing through like magic snow-blowers. #swipe #swipe”. It’s something small, but it can motivate you to head to Tea Garden as a reward for shoveling and surviving the snow.
    The other business I want to mention (that I also love) is Caribou Coffee! Yesterday they put out a $2 drink coupon for their new spring drinks which definitely made me want to go out and get some coffee regardless of the snow! I think it was a great time to introduce their spring drinks after we had a taste of spring and a whole lot of winter coming back at us! Also, as someone else mentioned, they posted a picture of some Caribou Coffee in a snowy car with sunglasses. Very cute, and I can see how people who had to go out in the snow could see that and want to get some coffee to accompany their longer-than-usual commutes.

    Of course, both of these companies offer hot drinks, and so they’re already going to be more enticing on a snowy cold day! Some other ways they could use social media is to post coupons (like Caribou did) or post “offers” on Facebook. I’ve seen these come up on my feed before where companies can post “offers” for people to “claim” and then it shows up on people’s feeds if they claim the offer, getting more people to see the coupon go buy from them. If they don’t want to offer deals or coupons, I think pictures always help. A picture of someone with a shovel and a coffee in hand, or a picture of outside one of the buildings covered in snow, maybe some mittened hands holding a hot drink with the logo on the cup and cup sleeve! Pictures can then be posted on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, wherever they have a social media following to get the message to the most people the most simply!


  6. Holly Sawochka Avatar

    I’m loving the snow day today! Tuesday is already my favorite day of the week because I have the day off of work, so that was a great start to the day, but on top of it being Tuesday, I woke up to multiple text messages from friends informing me that our 3:25-5 class had been cancelled which added to my start to the day. I was then told by my personal trainer that he wanted to reschedule to a later time, making it possible to sleep in an extra 3 hours! Lastly, my landlord came over with her snowblower and I didn’t have to do any shoveling!

    I live in St. Paul near Grand Ave. My neighborhood today was pretty dead! I went to Caribou and I was literally the ONLY customer which is unheard of! I also had to run to Target for groceries and at 4:30 when Lexington is typically a zoo, there were only a few cars on the road! I really didn’t mind my quick trip to Target and there was no time added to my 4 minute drive :).

    Chipotle is by far my favorite place to go and grab a quick dinner. Today Chipotle didn’t do anything that made me want to go and grab dinner, especially because I had no motivation to go out and drive unless it was necessary. However, the guy at Caribou gave me my breakfast sandwich for free because he wanted to thank me for “being so brave in this weather!” That made me want to continue to go to that Caribou location over any other location and I tweeted at them to thank them for being such a wonderful coffee shop! I think Chipotle should have done some type of promotion such as free chips and salsa (or guacamole) for any customer that buys a burrito/bol today! Caribou could have done one of their bogo days today too! That would have definitely enticed me to go to either (even though I still went to Caribou mainly out of convenience).

    For both of the examples above they could have tweeted their promotion. It would have been a great way to get the information out especially because some many school were closed today and let’s face it people spend a lot of time using social media when they’re busy with school so if they have more free time they’re bond to check their Facebook/twitter more often. If Caribou did choose to do a BOGO they could send out their email/message they typically send out to those on their list. Both could also post the promotion on their Facebook page, consumers will see the post there.

  7. kellyaanderson Avatar

    I mostly enjoyed the snow today. I didn’t have to drive far (thanks Sara!) and my son had a snow day so we got to play in the snow and spend some time together! 🙂

    I live in Stillwater and I did notice some of the businesses were posting about the weather on Facebook. Downtown Stillwater, which is a pretty touristy town was actually alive with people braving the weather. A delicious restaurant was selling their delivery service of food. One clothing boutique was posting about how they were “OPEN!” and sidewalks were plowed, another was posting about the must haves for spring break vacations and pictures of the most recent arrivals. That was enough for me! Down I went and it was fun talking with people about the weather and why we were out!

    I think businesses could have definitely offered discounts or specials for the day for the people who took on the weather. People who didnt have to go to work or school were probably wishing they could run errands or do something for themselves and offering a sale would have been a great way to get them to their store.

    They could use Twitter or Facebook saying, “Mention this post when you stop in!” Or offering a coupon for the day. It reaches people so fast and a lot of people were home today and able to do something different and fun!


  8. abigailmarolt Avatar

    Last night, I went to bed hoping for a snow day. However, after waking up more tired than I presumed, getting stuck in the snow for an hour and a half, and driving to St. Paul for a meeting that had been cancelled, this snow day didn’t seem so friendly. If I’d had the freedom to call off plans for the day, I would have truly enjoyed the snow and made the best of it. Against my better judgment, deadlines and work schedules meant that I had to persevere through the weather. I pushed myself into a negative mindset, but throughout the afternoon, my outlook improved drastically and I grew appreciative of the snow and all of its challenging glory. Three strangers helped me get my car out of the snow today, and it gave me a sense of community and pride in the Cedar Riverside area.

    Today, several local businesses published snow-related posts on social media sites. On Facebook, The Tea Garden posted “When you’re done shoveling don’t forget to come in for Double Swipes.” On Tuesdays, customers get double rewards for each drink purchased. I appreciate that they approached the snowstorm casually, considering many of their customers either live or work within walking distance of the business. I think they could have acknowledged the difficultly of getting to The Tea Garden more, instead of chalking it up to extra time spent shoveling. It seemed to undermine the immense challenge that today’s weather posed for the metro area. However, receiving double rewards draws many customers to The Tea Garden each week, and it was a simple reminder that offered something to look forward to during a break in the day.

    Later on Facebook, The Aster Café posted “SNOW DAY! New Belgium’s SNOW DAY is $3 ‘til it runs out! Subtle chocolate and caramel flavors with cascade and centennial hops.” This was more effective than The Tea Garden’s post because it offered both a relevant discount and a tempting description of the beer. Chocolate and caramel are key parts of this post, because they are warm, comforting flavors that fit the mood of a snow day. For boosted effectiveness, The Aster Café could have posted a more detailed story, or a click-through link to the story behind New Belgium’s Snow Day.

    All social media posts I came across for local business were food-oriented. Often, cold weather and commuting frustration can lead people to comforting food and beverages. However, it is important to acknowledge other snow day activities. For example, Wet Paint on Grand Avenue could have tweeted something like “Stuck inside today? Don’t let the snow get you down! Check out 25 winter art projects to make,” and included a click-through link to their website. In addition, St. Kate’s could have used twitter more effectively to acknowledge how difficult the roads are today. They could have tweeted a coupon for a $1.00 off any coffee drink from The Pulse, or a free food offer to entice commuters to come to classes.

  9. mmglynn Avatar

    Unfortunately, throughout my 23 years I have never enjoyed the weather here. I trudged through the snow, which I have now discovered I need new boots because somehow my socks were wet, YUCK, not to mention my car had a hard time getting out of the driveway. I was than greeted by the glorious and certainly anticipated traffic. My job gives me the lovely pleasure of “overcoming objections” in which I got to go back and forth with potential clients about why not coming in to see us because of the weather was a terrible excuse. So to say the least, the snow is not my favorite.

    While my neighborhood may not have had much going on, I was raised with a conflict this morning during the downfall. I was awoken by the sound of dogs barking at 6am; However how could I be mad, when the neighbor greets me first thing and asks if he can plow the front! That was probably the most eventful activity my neighborhood had that occurred.

    None of my favorite stores have done anything to reflect the weather; However this weather always makes me want something a little warm and sweet. One place I love during this season is Starbucks. They could have done a “Let It Snow” special or “Snowed In” something along those lines where they could have done a 2 for 1 discount, and I definitely would have bought two. It would have been great to see them do something fun, like a youtube, or vine clip and upload it to twitter or facebook. Just a fun paradoy, maybe making fun of how Minnesotans always complain about the weather every year, knowing its bound to happen. They could have portrayed themselves as the “In case of an emergency” go to, or “First aid kit to a snowy day”


  10. Nina Lindquist Avatar

    I definitely was not a fan of the snow day Tuesday. I never check the weather, and don’t usually bring it up in conversation with people. So when people started talking about the 10 inches of snow we were supposed to get, I didn’t believe them. However, when I woke up to drive back for class in the morning, I found myself feeling uncomfortable with driving all the way on such terrible roads!

    I didn’t go anywhere throughout the day, but for dinner I ventured out to Chipotle. Much to my surprise, there was absolutely NO LINE! That never happens at Chipotle’s no matter what the location is! Needless to say, I was pretty happy that I was able to get my dinner quickly. It was such a rare event, my day definitely got a little brighter!

    I really had no desire to go out and venture into the cold and snow, so I didn’t look too much into social media for restaurant deals. Big Apple Bagels in St. Cloud was offering buy 6, get 6 free for bagels. I was already planning on stopping there before heading back to the cities, so I was happy to see the deal outside the store when I was walking in. I was surprised that more stores didnt offer big specials. Whether I didn’t see the deals, or places in St. Cloud just didn’t care, I’m not sure. But at the same time, I don’t necessarily think companies should be promoting people to drive in bad conditions just to get a deal either haha.

    I think more businesses could have promoted food related discounts by posting deals to tell people to take a break from driving, or relax on their snow day. Whether it was a harlem shake snow day edition video, free coffee twitter posts, or coupons via email, I think more companies should in the future utilize days where a lot of people are not in class or work and have free time to go and spend money. I had absolutely nothing to do all day since my classes were all cancelled, so if I would have seen some good deals, I probably would have gone out!

  11. emmacutler Avatar

    This snowstorm was pretty bad for me for various unrelated reasons. I hoped that I wouldn’t have to dig my car out but I had to make my way to St.Paul from Minneapolis for a meeting that nearly no one showed up for, only to find that night class was cancelled. However that was good news so I could drive back and avoid rush hour traffic. Once I was safely back in uptown I was literally the perfect candidate for a special snow happy hour or a discount anywhere in my neighborhood. I was hoping I would hear of something at a the new restaurant near me called Burch Steak because it is out of my price range but a discounted glass of wine and a snack would have been perfect. I didn’t hear anything from them or the coffee shops nearby much to my disappointment. The next morning while on my work’s Facebook page I noticed that Patisserie 46 in South Minneapolis had a buy one get one pastry special for the storm. I do love pastries and discounts but I didn’t have the time to cash in on the buttery deliciousness. I did think it was impressive they still wanted to give a discount the day after the storm, and noticed the ad had only been posted about an hour before I saw it. If I lived closer I would have made someones day with the extra croissant.

    I think social media makes a business relatable and costumer friendly. Having an outlet to discuss relevant topics like the weather. Further including a way to get more costumers in the door by offering them something unique, special and catered to their experience in the world outside of being just another consumer. Everyone is either bummed out or delighted by a snow day and whichever it is they still need to eat. Why not cash in on the weather and give a special offer? Soon it be more like “Enjoy our beautiful patio this evening, two for one margaritas because its a hot one!”

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