Mark Lowe has been with Ace Hardware since 2002.
We're trying to recreate the consumer's experience in the retail stores in the digital space every day.
When he started with the company, they didn't have an ecommerce website, much less a Facebook page. So he worked with the entire team to launch a new website for the brand and begin an online marketing program.
Then, in 2009, they started social media from the ground up.
“We understood that this was going to be a big movement, so we really did our research and figured out where we were going to play and where we could win,” SocialMedia.org member Mark says.
Now, Mark has a social media team behind him and leads the entire Ecommerce team and all things mobile.
He works with one full-time social media employee focused on community management. From a social standpoint, they're also supported by agencies.
Mark says he looks for teammates with the usual requirements: eagerness to try new things, creativity, good writing skills, and the ability to put together visually compelling content. But most importantly, they have to fit within Ace Hardware's company culture.
“I love working with a group of people that really believe in what we're doing and have great ideas and come to work with a passion every day.”
After having been with the brand for 13 years, he says, “I've had the opportunity to be involved in so many areas of digital marketing that have represented challenges and areas of growth for me. Digital moves so quickly that there's always something new to explore and work on.”
Of course, the shift towards paid social has been the biggest change over Mark's career.
“It initially started as more of a true social experience. It was all very organic, and now it's become a pay-to-play environment,” he says.
At Ace Hardware, Mark says they stay true to the community spirit by providing their fans with great content, helpful advice, and an authentic brand. To Mark, that also means not chasing the “latest fad.”
“There are a lot of ways you can get distracted in this space. We try to identify where our brand can win in social and focus our efforts there.”
Mark says that Ace Hardware's strengths come from their retail stores.
Being helpful is not just a slogan we have for branding purposes.
They make his job easier because his team doesn't deal with many customer complaints or in-store issues.
“We're trying to recreate the consumer's experience in the retail stores in the digital space every day.”
In the past, they've done that through Facebook chats with various experts like interior designers, home paint experts, and the official “Helpful Hardware Man,” Lou Manfredini. And since Ace Hardware is also a popular retailer for birdseed and feeders, they even hosted a chat with birding experts.
Mark says at times, their Facebook chats have earned them over 600 questions in an hour.
“Being helpful is not just a slogan we have for branding purposes,” Mark says, “it's something we really try to extend throughout the organization.”
Connect with Mark on LinkedIn and ask about his favorite place to ski. Mark's been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2011.