Social media is not, as some believe, killing retail. It is, when used correctly, helping retailers more than ever.
According to various studies between 75 and 80% of adults use social media, and every year more and more consumers report checking a brand and its products on social media before purchasing. Consumers today are in the position to constantly check up on your brand whenever they want. Even if they trust your brand, there is nothing to stop them from searching for reviews online and comparing your prices to your competitors while they are standing in your store. Your social media presence is now an extremely important part of your brand, whether you want it to be or not – according to Forbes, 78% of consumers consider brand’s social media posts to have a significant impact on their purchases.
So, what do you need to be doing?
It’s not that difficult to create a good social media presence, but you need to make it personal and consistent. Create a brand voice and stick to it, as consumers are looking for a brand that is recognisable and trustworthy (we have a post on how to create your brand voice here). Once you have figured that out, here are a few things that you need to take into account:
1. Multiple Channels
Social media has many different platforms for a reason – people get different things out of different platforms. You can no longer afford to pick one social media platform. While you don’t want to spread yourself too thin, stats suggest that by skipping a platform that your consumers use you might be literally losing money. Instagram sponsored posts and Facebook ads both provide the option of direct-to-website sales links while also showing organic content. Find out which platforms your consumers are using and join those platforms. Of course, you don’t need to have 14 platforms and struggle to create enough content to cover them all (like making a YouTube channel when you don’t have the means or the reason to create videos) – choose carefully but don’t limit yourself to just one.
2. Build Brand Loyalty
Your general consumer visits their preferred social media platform multiple times a day, so you need to be seen. If they see your brand appear on their timelines on a day to day basis, with messages and content that appeals to them, you will begin to build a relationship with them. Your content doesn’t just need to be specials and promotions; find a way to relate to them that aligns with your brand values, and those consumers who agree with your values will notice.
3. Direct To The Website
Your website is your brand home and when it comes to online retail it is exactly where you want your consumers to be heading – to see what you have on offer and to hopefully inspire them to buy. Therefore, it stands to reason that the more ways that you can get your consumers to your website the better – and social media offers you just that. Every post on facebook, every tweet, and even the ‘link in bio’ on Instagram offers you a way to direct your consumer to where they can purchase from you.
4. Social Commerce Features
Social media platforms are not ignoring the way that they impact retail and they have adjusted to make it easier and easier for you to transition a social media post into a sale. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even Pinterest, have ‘Buy Buttons’ that you can easily make use of. These buttons are action features that allow a consumer to see a photo of a product, click the button and be taken right to the product on site for purchase. Instagram stories also offer the ‘swipe up’ to buy option (given you have enough followers), allowing for a seamless transition from content to product that doesn’t interrupt a consumer’s social media experience.
5. Listen To Your Consumers
This is one of the biggest advantages of using social media – you can hear straight away when they like or dislike a product. You can also see very easily if they like your brand. If you are struggling to find the content that they want, other than just posts about sales and promotions, you can ask the customers right there and then. Run a poll on Twitter or in your Instagram stories and get their feedback right away – no more waiting for a marketing strategy to run its course and then waiting for the results. Consumers are also looking for interaction and inclusion into the brands that they love, so by getting them involved you are not just improving their experience with your company, but also improving your brand itself.
Another way to get consumers involved is to use their product photos. Don’t steal without crediting, but share the photos that they are sharing. It shows that you pay attention to your social media, and also gives consumers a reason to want to be a part of your brand. Pick a hashtag or tell them to tag you for a chance to be featured on your account.
6. Customer Service Is Key
While you might think this is a no-brainer, retail customer service on social media is even more important than in stores. In the ‘real world’ when a customer has a problem with their product they have to go back to the store and wait to be served in person during business hours. In the world of social media, they can lodge a complaint at any time – and they will expect an answer! Social media runs 24/7 365 days a year and you need to be ready for that. There are plenty of bots that can provide an immediate answer for your consumer on direct messages – but make sure that these are just a way to give you time to answer every message personally. No one likes only hearing from a machine; it gives the consumer the impression that their opinions are not important.
However, don’t be disheartened by the thought of your customers being able to contact your brand all day every day – there is a positive side too. They can also contact you for the good stuff – to say how much they enjoyed the experience/product, how they enjoyed the service, a willingness to be involved in the brand, or positive constructive feedback. In fact, a survey conducted by Sprout Social showed that the main reason (59%) that consumers chose to contact a brand was when they had a great experience, versus when having customer service issues (37%).
How do you use social media for retail? What is the future of retail going to look like with the speed of social media advancement?
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for more information about social media marketing and how we can help you to optimise your digital space.