With 81% of the US population using social media, it is a great resource for retailers to open a direct line of communication with their consumers. When social media is used correctly, you can:
- Increase brand exposure/awareness
- Help identify your target market
- Build trust in consumers
- Manage your brand’s reputation
As ERS’ current interns and pop-culture junkies, we’ve learned a little bit about what people want to see on social media. Here are six of the best practices any retailer can use to reap the benefits provided by social platforms:
1.) Campaigns & Contests:
An influential technique retailers can implement is starting a campaign or contest to promote their store and brand. Campaigns can range from starting #hashtag incentives to having a social influencer promote your products on their own account. For example, Marc Jacobs created a hashtagging campaign where customers receive goodies in exchange for posting on their social media with #MarcJacobs. This campaign resulted in 13,500 tweets and 4,300 Instagram posts.
Similar to campaigns, retailers can also create contests through social media, such as like-to-win (like the photo to enter the contest), photo contest (the most liked photo wins), and many others. Selecting the right contest for your brand is the first step. Keep in mind who your target audience is and if any occasions (holiday, store milestone, etc.) are occurring during your contest.
2.) Engage With Your Customer:
Posting content about your store is not enough to have a successful social media presence. By interacting with consumers, you can increase your brand’s presence and trustworthiness. Replying to posts is the simplest way to engage with your consumers and open dialog. Replies can be funny or serious (see “Monitoring Your Social Media Platform”). In another ERS article, David Matsil explores a similar topic focusing on Twitter. However you choose to present your replies on social media, engaging with your consumers one-on-one helps to personify your company, which will, in turn, create a trustworthy brand association.
3.) Monitoring your social media platforms:
Repetition is key! The more content people see, the more likely they are to connect with a message. You can leverage social media data to know when is the optimal time to post. Auto-scheduling programs exist and they allow you to set what time you want your content to be posted. However, it is crucial to be mindful of current events. During solemn times, it is important to stay away from intense marketing efforts and instead create supportive, caring content.
With great posting power comes great responsibility. The presence of social media allows people all over the globe to respond directly to a company. Whether it’s a tweet, an Instagram comment, or a Facebook video, companies can locate when their name is used in any social media content; which has allowed them to monitor and respond to customer dissatisfactions (and satisfactions). This has single-handedly altered a part of customer service that is crucial for buyer retention. Also, Millennials sometimes get a kick out of a funny response (just look at Wendy’s reply tweet!). An ERS article entitled “Millennials: Changing Retail for Better or for Worse” can you give you a deeper look into our generation’s preferences. Whether it’s a witty reply to a customer or a genuine outreach to help better their experience, keeping up with your online customer service is crucial.
Choosing what content to post on your social media platforms can be difficult and not every technique fits every retailer. When choosing your content, keep in mind your brand and your brand’s personality.
Using photos in your posts is a definite crowd-pleaser. Photos are generally more popular, especially if the photo is visually appealing. Post with photos gets 39% more interaction than an average text post. Your photos can range from infographics to photography all the way to memes.
Not all posts need to be promotional. For example, sharing content of your volunteer work in the community exhibits your company’s culture and helps build a long-term relationship with your consumer. Also, sharing content other than your products ensures your followers don’t get tired and annoyed of seeing your marketing strategies on their feed.
5.) Connecting social media to Brick & Mortar:
So, how can social media benefit Brick and Mortar stores? It’s no surprise that people enjoy the convenience of online shopping, and with this comes a love for media browsing. In fact, around 61% of consumers look to social media for discounts. Creating discount incentives on social media that requires people to walk into stores could help increase foot traffic. Social media also helps stores with branding, customer communication, and sharing of your company’s products and mission.
6.) Profiles Dos and Don’ts
In order to grow and keep your social media following, here are some helpful profile tips:
Keep the same profile name across all social channels: Customers need to be able to find you easily.
Keep your content engaging: We’ve already said it five times, but it’s just so important. Our advice on campaigns and contests work well here. Everyone loves a giveaway!
Make it attractive: Your platforms must be aesthetically pleasing for the audience. Try creating an eye-grabbing platform arrangement that includes a lot of colors.
Communicate: Like we mentioned earlier, it is crucial to interact with your customers through social media. “Like” and respond to customers on different platforms.
Only post about your products: Customers might get annoyed and unfollow you. Keep things trendy and entertaining, whilst subliminally marketing your brand. Posting things about your company’s social/ volunteer work is a great idea because it can give consumers something to connect with.
Falsify your company: Making statements that you can not stand behind can reveal weakness and diminish your consumer’s trust. Always be careful when describing your company by its product/service, its values, or its culture. Maintain a profile that is transparent to your customers.
Following these techniques can help you ensure social media success!
Cassidy McKenna and Victoria Suarez: students at the University of Florida, interned at ERS the summer of 2017