How a 1930s pecan candy company is turning heads on TikTok

How a 1930s pecan candy company is turning heads on TikTok

Stuckey’s is a candy maker known for its pecan log rolls and kitschy souvenirs, which it sells at its convenience stores along highways in the United States. At the height of its success, the Stuckey family sold the company, but in 2019, granddaughter of the Stuckey’s founder, Stephanie Stuckey, decided to buy it back, even though at the time, Stuckey’s was six figures in debt. Using the power of social media and the help of Hootsuite Professional, Stuckey has turned the company’s fortunes around and online sales grew by 750% in just two years.

Stuckey’s started as a humble roadside stand on the back roads of Georgia in 1937, then grew to become America’s first roadside retail chain in the 1960s. You’d be hard pressed to find someone back then who didn’t light up at the thought of pulling off the interstate at a Stuckey’s to fuel up and grab the famous pecan log roll.

Family-owned and thriving, in 1960 Stuckey’s was at its peak with almost 400 stores in 40 states. But like most successful family-owned companies at that time, the Stuckey family decided to sell the business, taking it out of the family’s hands.

That’s until Stephanie Stuckey came into the picture. Granddaughter of the Stuckey’s founder, she decided to buy back the company in November 2019.
The catch? Stuckey’s was now six figures in debt.

Armed with a passion for the family business and a love of pecans, Stuckey set out to rebuild her family’s legacy and figure out how to make it profitable.

Bringing Grandma’s recipe back in-house

The first thing Stuckey did when she bought back her family business was figure out which product was generating the most profit.

Unsurprisingly, it was the pecan log roll – the candy the company had been making for 85+ years – which was consistently their bestseller.

After outsourcing production for over 50 years, Stuckey could taste the difference. It wasn’t the same as her grandmother’s original recipe and she knew that if she was going to turn this company around, she needed that authentic taste.

So, she bought a candy plant and a pecan shelling plant in the small town of Wrens, Georgia. A huge part of her storytelling is using social media to share a behind-the-scenes look at how Stuckey’s makes the candy.

“TikTok has been key to my success because I can visually capture how the chocolate is being made, and people love it,” said Stuckey.

Using Hootsuite’s new TikTok integration, Stuckey schedules TikToks that showcase candy making, her family story and her road trip finds throughout the US. And with Stuckey’s reaching more than 16,000 followers on TikTok, it’s clear there’s an appetite for this engaging content.

Winning a big following with a simple (and smart) content strategy

When Stuckey set out to build back the company, she knew the way forward was storytelling. To engage with the right demographic and get her story out, she knew social media would be the key to success.

Stuckey said: “Social media has been a game-changer for Stuckey’s. I think for all small businesses, it’s the great equaliser.”

When Stuckey first started out, she had almost no experience with social media. She knew Stuckey’s more than anyone else, so she started out by simply committing to post content consistently every single day.

“By posting every day, I grew a following,” says Stuckey. “And I am by no means an expert in social, but Hootsuite brought the resources I needed to the table and became an extension of my team.”

Using Hootsuite Analytics, Stuckey discovered that the best performing posts were the ones that weaved in the history of Stuckey’s. Stuckey doubled down on the nostalgia around the Stuckey’s brand, especially on her LinkedIn account, where she consistently tells compelling stories about her journey and has grown her following to more than 100,000 in less than two years.

“Hootsuite Analytics allows me to look at my metrics every week and understand what post got the most engagement and why,” she explained.

“And then I do more of that and do it better. That’s how I’ve gone from 200 LinkedIn followers to almost 100,000 in less than two years.”

Using social to show the human side of a pecan log roll empire

After touring old Stuckey’s locations, Stuckey realised just how much work she had to do to completely turn around the company. There were old Stuckey’s buildings that hadn’t been touched in decades.

Her social presence was cheery and upbeat and didn’t reflect the blood, sweat and tears she was putting in to turn the company around. So, she posted a photo on LinkedIn of what the store actually looked like with the caption, “Stuckey’s is a fixer-upper, and our company needs a lot of TLC, and I’m determined to bring this company around.”

After posting, she received the usual 20 or so likes. Within an hour, that number hit 1,000. And within a month, Stuckey had reached a million people with this single post.

“That’s when I knew I was on to something and that’s when I really started gaining traction,” she said. “It’s sharing the honest journey with your audience, being yourself and being real.”

As her engagement skyrocketed, Stuckey started connecting with C-suite level connections through LinkedIn, opening up her business to more opportunities. One day, she posted on LinkedIn about how Stuckey’s pecans used to be on Delta flights, and how great it would be if they were an in-flight snack again.

The next day, she received an email from the CEO of Delta about the post.

“Social media really is the great equaliser – you can connect with high-level CEOs that you never thought were attainable,” she said.

“If you’re a small, scrappy comeback brand and your message is right and consistent, and you’re using tools like Hootsuite to help you along the way, you can absolutely get to that next level.”

What’s next

Stuckey’s goal for the company she has called ‘an 80-year-old start-up’ is to be the go-to brand for pecans in the US. With online sales increasing 750% in two years and a growing base of loyal fans, Stuckey’s is making a comeback and is well on its way to becoming just that.

“Pecans are the only nut native to America, and you don’t see pecans in the snack aisles of grocery or convenience stores,” she said. “I want to turn that around. Not only do I want the pecan to have its rightful place on America’s snack aisles, I want it to be Stuckey’s pecan snacks.”

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