Monday, March 14, 2011

Do you have a retail social media strategy?


In today's retail tip of the day, we want to help you create a working social media marketing plan for your business. Like any good marketing plan, a social media marketing strategy also requires planning, preparation and the right tools, but if you have a well defined plan, you can focus your time to help produce maximum marketing effectiveness for your business.

Where should you be? The first thing you must do is to decide where you should concentrate your social media efforts. For most retailers today, creating a Facebook Fan page is a good place to start. This will give you access to more than 600 million potential people-- both around the world, and around the corner from your retail store. If however, your business targets a very young audience, perhaps using videos on You Tube and using location based marketing programs such as Foursquare or Gowalla would be a good choice.

Remember, the right answer may be to participate in more than one place on social media at a time and have different messages running to attract different audiences on those media sites. You will have to create specific messages for each media to insure they hit the correct target audiences needs.

What is our company goal using social media?  Once you decide where to be, then you must decide what your goals are and determine how to measure those goals. Your social media goals should be tied to your overall business goals? Ie. Do you want more market share for your business? Then your social media goal should be to gain follwers who may then turn into potential customers for the business.

Warning: Many retailers plan a sales increase as their "goal" for using social media. This can be risky. If you focus your efforts on creating mini advertisements all the time and do not work to engage your audience, you run the risk of turning them away from your business permanently. Build credibility and trust first. Then, and only, then, talk about your products in a selling manor.

What will we say about/for our business using social media?

Think of social media sites as another extension of your store selling floor. No matter what social media tools you choose to use, each one offers a chance to engage with customers in a venue that is their choice. (Remember, the reason social media is such a powerful marketing tool is that your customers find YOU there andthey seek to find more information about YOUR store. Unlike the old days of marketing where you placed a message and hoped they found the ad where you placed it!)  If you have a brick and mortar loation, and you are using social media correctly, your customers should get the same feeling when engaging with you online. So if you're funny in the store, you should show that same personality on Facebook or Twitter or your blog.

The goal is to share information, gain the trust and credibility of your followers and to engage them further with your brand to establish or maintain their loyalty.  

A good rule of thumb for posts (what to say) is the 40/30/30 rule. Spend 40% of your time sharing "personal" type information with followers. No, not your street address, but things like market trips, events in town, employee birthdays, customers of the week, etc. Your goal in this phase is to make yourself and your store human so you can build trust.

The next 30% of posts should be about sharing information. This is where you share knowledge- or share other industry experts knowledge with your fans/followers. This establishes that you are credible in your industry and you are doing them a favor by culling all relevant industry information for them. Even if you haven't written the article, your fans will appreciate that you saved them time and found them valuable, interesting information.

Then finally after credibly and trust are established, you can talk (ie.sell) for your business in the final 30% of your posts. If you've done the first two phases well, they will be engaged and want to learn more about the products you sell, the events you are having, etc.  While it may seem like a long time to get to the sales aspect of the business, think about when a customer walks in the front door. You never start out by saying "Can ring that up for you when they walk by the first table or rack, right?" It's the same with social media. Start with "small talk" then build to the sale!


How will I measure the results of my time and effort on social media? After spending your time and energy (the good news with social media is that there are less dollars spent than with traditional marketing mediums, but there is the time factor involved) you want to measure results against factors that will drive your bottom line. With every social media site you use, there are analytics that can help you measure your results. Some of them are shown in overall numbers such as the total number of fans, followers or blog readers you have. If you grow these numbers, than you know that more potential customers are following your business.

The next set of analytics involve the content that you publish. In essence, the more views, posts, or people commenting back, mean that your information caught their attention and you have successfully '"engaged" your audience. That is your goal!! Some potential measurement tools for you to review on a regular basis include the number of video or other content views, volume of user comments posted to your blog or fan page, number of re-tweets of your content.

Social media is a fun, engaging, low cost marketing tool which can and should be part of any retailers marketing program today.  The key is to create a strategy that ties to the overall goals of your business and engages your followers with your brand on a regular basis.


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