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How-Tu Tuesday: Using Social Media In The Retail Industry

Picture for Rene Looper Rene Looper

March 30th 2016

Retail is an industry known for its proactive adoption of new technologies and open attitude towards discovering innovative ways to connect with the consumer, whether that be in marketing, production or payment solutions. Being knowledgeable about the ever-changing route to purchase for the customer is key for marketers trying to improve their communications. As ever, brands want to create strategies that target their audience at the right time, in the right place and with the right message, but retailers specifically realise that an opportunity to do this exists within every touchpoint; at home, in store and on the go.

In a report from McKinsey Global Institute, it was highlighted that 85% of retail companies are using social technologies for marketing, with only 66% of companies in other industries doing the same. Consumers value the transparency and immediacy of social media, thus retailers value it too and accept that no marketing plan is complete without the use of social media. Below are a number of tips for retailers to build social media into their marketing and overall business strategy…

1. Evaluate

Whether you are an avid social user, or you are just starting out, it is important to take a step back to look at your goals and understand where you want to be and how you’re going to get there. Is Facebook going to be most effective, or should you be looking at Snapchat? No matter where you are in your experience of using social media, it is always a valuable lesson to understand the effectiveness of your current activity and identify where things need to change. Most brands become consumed with the “vanity” metrics of likes and followers, but in order to quantify success it can be more effective to look at the direct link between conversation and conversion.

2. Listen

There is no point in spending time creating copy for your social channels if you ignore the interaction. The best indicator as to whether your activity is being received well is to monitor your mentions. Whether they are good or bad, brands can instantly gage whether they need to change their approach. Competitors’ mentions can also be tracked in the same way, allowing you to see who is more popular and also identify users who you could be potential customers and should be targeted (this can done by following the user or mentioning them in a post).

3. Organise

Shoppers are increasingly using social media as a method of direct communication with brands. The days of emails and phone calls are fading fast and people now want an instant answer/solution to their question or problem. However, depending on the size of your retail company, this can be quite demanding on employees’ time so it should be dealt with in the most efficient way possible. Using a scheduling system (Hubspot, Hootsuite, TweetDeck) can greatly improve the process of posting content and engaging with users. Also using a calendar to schedule content saves marketers a huge amount of time and allows them to create more engaging content as they have more time to identify themes and plan ahead.

4. Prevent Mistakes

There are some situations where mistakes and blunders are unavoidable and a plan of action should be put in place for when this happens. However, brands should not fear using social media because of this as most mishaps can be avoided if the correct process is put in place. Simply having more than one person who checks over all content that is published is a great way to reduce risk as people have different perspectives on how a message may be interpreted. Again, it depends on the size of the company, but it is key that responsibility and ownership is shared between a team of people and that way, more mistakes and potential social media disasters can be caught early on and stopped altogether.

5. Amplify

One of the biggest examples of successful social media amplification are those (both brands and individuals) who are successful in YouTube. They hone in on what they are good at and then watch the video views and channel subscriptions soar. Social media marketers should be identifying their niche across each channel and creating a very precise brand persona based on how their followers have reacted so far to the content being posted. This may be effected by customer demographics and the type of people who follow you on each platform; your social behaviour should ultimately reflect who your consumer is.

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