Jan 6, 2012
Author: Mikey Scott
These days you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t have a Facebook account—from pets and babies to dead celebrities, and even a group called I Secretly Want to Punch Slow Walking People in the Back of the Head. That’s why in today’s ever evolving and increasingly diluted online landscape, using social media effectively and efficiently is more important than ever. Sure, your shop has a Facebook page, maybe even a Twitter account, but faster than you can say, “online metrics”, new social websites are surfacing within specific communities of interest. The question is whether you’re capitalizing on every opportunity to build, engage, measure and optimize your social presence, and ultimately capturing your customer before they even walk through your door. Mikey Scott, an online strategist and the driving force behind Bneeth.com, tells us 10 ways you may not have realized your store can use social media as a tool to grow its business.
1. OPERATE WITH A PLAN
You wouldn’t open a retail location without a plan, so what makes diving into social media any different? When planning your social media strategy, be sure to determine where your customers spend time online. Chances are they’re on Facebook and Twitter, so using these platforms to launch isn’t a bad start. From there, look a bit deeper at how you can engage your end consumer.
Hint: Foursquare, Gowalla and Yelp are the top location-based services. Try engaging your customers by offering discounts or special offers if they “check in” at your retail location.
2. USE SOCIAL PLATFORMS INDEPENDENTLY
Publish the right message in the right place using the right tactics. Avoid publishing the exact same message through all platforms. Each social space has its own list of best practices, which can be researched online. So when you’re putting in the time to make your shop as visible as possible, make sure it fits in format wise.
Hint: If you’re trying to spread the word about a sale, use Instagram to share a photo of a marked down product, give your Facebook followers a coupon for a further discount, and keep the Twittersphere updated on what product is left and possibly being marked down further, or if any shop riders or pros are hanging at the shop. Your audience is likely subscribing to all of these platforms, so to hit them over the head with the same message is both counterproductive and annoying.
3. DO MARKET RESEARCH
Ask questions and don’t be afraid of the answers. When gathering market research, try to engage your online audience in a way that makes them feel like they have a vested interest in your shop. Creating customer loyalty through engagement is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to gaining an edge over your competition. Using social media to gather market research can give you some of the most effective real-time analysis of your customers’ needs and wants. What store wouldn’t want to carry a particular brand if their customers are talking about it?
Hint: In order to generate quality market research, be sure to lay out your company goals and generate questions that will allow you to get the right type of information. Remember to incentivise. Create a poll on Facebook asking for the most anticipated line of 2012, and enter the respondents in a draw for free gear.
4. EDUCATE YOUR AUDIENCE
Nobody cares what the shop owner is eating for lunch. Keep the mundane updates to your personal profile. Use your shop’s social platforms to educate your audience about a topic in line with your retail operation. Education is one of the main driving forces behind general users becoming dedicated online followers.
Hint: If you’re not able to spend the time generating original content yourself, try to stay up to date on trending topics and viral content in advance of it reaching the mass market. By focusing on this type of content, your brand will be seen as an early adopter and ahead of the general public. In the world of online content, everyone wants to be the first to know about the next big thing before it happens. If they trust you to give ‘em the goods, they will follow.
5. MEASURE WHAT’S HAPPENING
Measure, tweak, launch, repeat. Adapting your strategy based on what you learn will give you the best results in the end. Plus, there’s always a way to optimize your process. Start to compile the metrics: number of followers, likes, comments, views, subscribers, impressions, retweets and mentions, etc. When you’re looking at the results, pay attention to the peaks and valleys and what may have caused the increase or decrease in traffic.
Hint: Be sure to shorten all of the links that you’re putting online. By using link-shortening devices inside Hootsuite, you can actually capture who is clicking through and much more.
Whether you’re new to the game or an old pro, buying ads and building brands just got way easier with social media. One of the major benefits of advertising inside social networks is the ability to target your customer by region, age, gender, etc. Sites like Google and Facebook also offer really good metrics reporting and feedback as to how your advertising is performing.
Hint: In online advertising, call-to-action creative is the way to go. Sure, if your intent is to build awareness of your logo, a simple logo-based ad is OK. But want people to click through? You’ve got to incentivise. Wording like “Click Here for Half Price Outerwear” or “Check our Year-End Clearance Inventory Here” are very effective pitches.
7. BE CONSISTENT
Your fans like you, follow you and check in with you on a regular basis. Try to be consistent with what you’re giving them so they will return. If it doesn’t involve your brand in some way, shape or form, take a second to think about what you’re posting and why. What do you want your followers to think? Would you follow yourself online?
Hint: Generate a posting schedule that outlines the type of content you’re posting and when it’s being posted. This simple chart will not only put an end to inconsistent posting, but also give you a snapshot of the types of content you’re posting.
8. ENGAGE YOUR USERS
If you’re looking to build your audience and promote your store, look for ways to engage your users. Remember that when someone clicks a link or shares a piece of content, the message makes its way into their network of friends. Your goal should be to engage your community as much as possible with questions, contests and most of all easily shareable content.
Hint: Lean on a handful of your favourite suppliers and ask them to give you a small prize every once in a while for online giveaways. If it’s a good enough prize, your community will do all the sharing for you.
9. PROMOTE SMART CONTENT
You’re getting new product into your store and telling your audience about it every day. Trust me, it gets old. Loud profiles are most likely hidden, un-followed or un-liked within the first three days of someone paying attention to you in the first place.
Hint: Consolidate your events and product drops into smart postings that are rich with content. Getting users to spend more time on your social sites will pay off in the long run. Using galleries and/or links back to your website is an easy way to monitor how rich your content really is. If no one is “liking” or “sharing” your posts, it might be time to re-evaluate your messages.
10. JOIN THE PARTY
Be social. Nobody likes the creepy person in the corner that isn’t talking to anyone. The same goes for a brand that lets its profile sit still and collect dust. If you’re online, act like it. Join new platforms, watch what’s happening and take a few notes before jumping into the social media landscape. Search out new opportunities for your brand on platforms that make sense. So you’re on Facebook and Twitter, that’s cool. Why aren’t you on Instagram, Tumblr and Foursquare? Get up, get on and join the countless amounts of people using these ever changing social networks.