Monday, March 15, 2010

Meet My Neighbor, Ace Hardware

Employees at Ace Hardware have names even on the internet. The brief introduction of a name brings the point of interaction from company-to-person right down to person-to-person. You can meet quite a few Ace Hardware employees online and the men and women live up to the company motto of “the helpful place” by being friendly, knowledgeable, and approachable.
The attractive company website is both powerful and easy to navigate. The first employee that you can meet is Lou in the helpful hardware man’s corner. Lou offers tips for dozens of projects around the house, special occasions, or seasonal needs. He isn’t the only employee there to help. You’ll find several other helpful Ace employees throughout the website. Not all of them have names, but it’s reassuring to see friendly faces.

The website makes a notable effort to encourage customer and brand loyalty through courtesy features as opposed to viral marketing schemes. Customers can search for products by brand, featured products, top sellers, top rated, and what’s new – as well as traditional searches by category and related projects. The website makes it simple to access monthly rebates, ad sales, and “red hot buys.”

For Ace Hardware customers, it’s easy to find the closest local store and to see just how many stores are nearby to serve you. You can even buy items online have them shipped to the store for free. If you take a moment to find the closest store, you can see a picture of the location as well as a short history on that individual Ace Hardware. You can also see their services, departments, featured brands, promotions and events, and even their community involvement.

Twitter with Ace Hardware
Do you know who replies to your questions? I do. Mark and Ismael update Ace’s Twitter feed from Ace Hardware HQ in Oak Brook, IL. With 2,594 followers, the Ace Hardware twitter is well-loved. It’s also pretty useful too. The Twitter feed writers are very aware of the purpose, customers, products, events, and even employees. A handy tool theme and visible links to the website, Facebook, and Youtube resources worked into the design to keep all of Ace Hardware’s online presences connected.

Mark and Ismael use their limited characters wisely; all of the updates are well-written and genuine. Customer comments and RTs are followed up individually and concerns are responded to with requests for direct messages. One successful method employed by Ace Hardware is to include the comment or question in the reply so that viewers know the context of the conversation. The Twitter feed encourages conversation by asking questions of its followers and offering tips for projects as Spring approaches. It also engages some of the brands sold by Ace Hardware by retweeting a topic from Rubbermaid.

A phenomenal use of Twitter is showcasing local Ace Hardware stores who reach goals, achievements, or do something significant – such as when Woodruff Ace in WI jumped in a frozen lake to benefit St. Joseph Children’s Hospital in Marshfield, WI on February 8th.

Youtube with Ace Hardware
Lou is back on the company Youtube channel. He brought Gina Schaefer with him, owner of a group of Ace Hardware stores in DC and Baltimore, to help review winter products. As for Lou, he’s got plenty of ideas to help you accomplish your goals. Whether it’s recommending a product, reminding you of a seasonal to-do list, or showing you how to use a tool, he’s there to help and he’ll show you how to stay safe while doing the job.

Every video is clear, direct, and simple. By the end of all the videos, I felt confident not only in Lou, but also in the other Ace Hardware employees that he promised could help me with any of my questions. The Youtube channel shares the same decorative theme as the Twitter feed, tying in the Ace Hardware personality across multiple social media platforms.

Facebook with Ace Hardware
The Ace Hardware Facebook page is what every company dreams of when it hopes for a connection to and a commitment from its customers. While it boasts 18,559 fans, the real success is that the Facebook page is thriving! Customers and employees update the comment wall daily and each official Ace Hardware status update is met with supportive replies and thumbs up votes in the double digits. Customer comments vary from needed parts, garden ideas, to goofy projects like seeking out photos of Ace Hardware stores have popcorn machines for special occasions. Some customers even mention specific stores or employees that went out of their way to help. Employees and store owners share photos of store events and outstanding customers.

The Facebook page makes use of its “Favorite Pages” as a community showcase for individual stores, featured brands, supported causes, and customer projects. It makes a statement when customers ask their hardware store to link to their cause in their favorites list.

The Ace Hardware team doesn’t shy away from criticism or negative feedback. When a customer was upset about the slow arrival of a snow shovel, the Ace Hardware team took responsibility to make thing right, mentioning the store manager Tim by name and publicly explaining what went wrong. Even when the customer found a shovel elsewhere, her comment about the more helpful competition was allowed to stay on the boards.

Have I mentioned the helpful content and resources available for customers throughout the Facebook page? What about the photos and pages devoted to the many causes and special projects that Ace Hardware supports? The people at Ace Hardware are involved in their community and it’s clear that their community appreciates all that they do.

At least that’s what their social media helps me to believe, and isn’t that the goal?

Ace Hardware makes an exceptional effort to keep its social media extensions simple, useful, and welcoming. All of its website, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube resources are available on the go through its mobile feature, a tool which has added features to make getting to the local store even easier. The company has long maintained a neighborhood-friendly image and its loyal customer base has kept Ace Hardware strong and relevant even in the face of competition from bigger hardware stores. It looks like Ace's social media presence is helping to strengthen its bond with its customers.


  1. Denae, I agree with you that Ace's strategy seems to be to become everyone's own personal neighborhood hardware store. And I think it is a brilliant move on their part. They are up against two mega-store competitors, Home Depot and Lowes, and they are not in a position to compete directly on price, store location, customer credit cards, and so forth.

    What they can do, however, is to offer personal, down-home service as an alternative to the impersonal environment of the super stores. Their social media efforts fit right in with this plan. Their web presence has a friendly, hometown feel that seems to make the transition to my local Ace Hardware right down the street. And I, at least, would rather pay a little more and be able to deal with a locally-owned store that appears to appreciate my patronage.

  2. Wow, I poked around a little, and Ace does seem to be doing something right! Who knew? I always think of that company as "small town" and maybe even "behind the times."

    Their social media savvy has changed my perception!