Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Is your retail business social?

Today’s retail consumers are using social media in record numbers to engage daily with products and services they like. They are learning about features and benefits of brands, they are learning about brand personality thru contests and activities online and they are sharing testimonial information about brands they love with their online friends and family.

All this social media activity is great news for retailers who understand that they can now engage customers (existing and new) via their social media sites on a daily basis. In fact, today’s best in class retailers are now meeting consumers where they are by re-aligning their marketing methods and creating social media strategies that engage, inform and inspire their customers to participate.

So what steps must you make in order to make your retail business more effective with social media marketing today?

1. Strategy first. With social media, it is not a case of “if you build it, they will come.” With social media, you must begin with a strategy that defines your company goals and outcomes for using social media. Ironically, the social media tools are not complex it’s the development of a strategy and finding time to commit to it that sinks many companies starting out.

2. Abolish the fear of transparency. As you seek to engage your customers in your social media activities, you will no doubt receive some critical reviews of your brand. Do not hide behind your cyber walls. Acknowledge your failings in the public forum and try to right the wrongs as best you can.

3. Stand out from the crowd. Yes, you must have a strategy, but don’t forget, we’re talking about marketing here so you must create activities with your social media marketing that create differentiation among your peers and help your customers see the value in your company and brand.

4. Givers gain. Companies must learn that using social media isn’t just about constantly selling your brand. They must learn to have a shared communication with customers and give information that your customers find useful. Think about social media like a cocktail party- if you listen to someone constantly talk about themselves, you are looking for the exits in a hurry, but if they engage in a two way conversation with you, it’s much more interesting and potentially rewarding.

5. Abide by the 40/30/30 rule. Spend 40% of your posts talking about personal matters, 30% of the time sharing store or industry information that your customers would appreciate and THEN- and ONLY then, should you spend 30% of your time directly selling products your store carries. Maintaining this rule will help you build credibility and trust for your brand with your customers.

6. Create Value - it matters to your customers. Make sure you use social media to help your company showcase the value in your brand. It’s not just being there that matters, it’s about delivering value in the eyes of your customers on a consistent basis that separates you from your competitors on a consistent basis.

There is no doubt that using social media can be an effective tool for connecting with consumers of all ages. I know that finding the time to execute social media may be challenging at first, but when you make it a regular part of your marketing program, you will see what a wonderful tool it can be for your business to meet and market to customers on a 24/7 basis!

1 comment:

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