Social media can be a complex challenge for retailers because it is so ubiquitous in daily life. It's possible to know everything about Facebook from a consumer perspective – but from the vantage point of a brand, it can seem like a confusing mess.
Nevertheless, retail brands need a social media presence to thrive in today's "always on" market. Here are a few ways to develop positive engagement with your customers on social media platforms:
1. Be responsive
Your shoppers likely have a smartphone within reach at all times of the day. According to Pew Research Center, over two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, with 92 percent of people aged 18 to 29 owning a smart device.
These always-connected individuals don't like to wait for a response. A 2016 study by Twitter found that consumers spend up to 20 percent more if a brand replies to their post on social media. This is backed up by a UPS consumer study that found 34 percent of consumer purchasing decisions are influenced by social media.
If you haven't done so already, create a business page on Facebook and get a few relevant posts on your timeline. Reply to comments that come in and try to address any negative feedback immediately.
2. Get personal
Social media campaigns can often seem impersonal – there's a lot of technology between you and your shoppers. You need a strategy that can break through this layer of technological distance and touch your readers on an emotional level.
Use social media to extend an invitation to new shoppers and welcome back returning customers with special offers. These small gestures can go a long way.
If you tend to post promotional materials on your social media profiles, consider breaking these up with non-promotional posts. For example, if your store sells fitness clothes, try pinning your favorite exercise routine to your Pinterest board.
3. Start a conversation
Social media is, at its core, a platform for conversation. When your shoppers open up Instagram or Twitter, the first thing they likely look for is posts from friends and family as well as any celebrities or influencers they follow. It's unlikely they're refreshing their feeds in anticipation of finding new advertisements.
"Readers want to join the conversation."
The best social media marketing campaigns encourage participation. Here's an example: The content curators at Tint named Disney's #shareyourears campaign one of the best social media marketing efforts of 2016. Disney and the Make A Wish Foundation encouraged people to share their mouse ear pictures with the world. The campaign was so successful it led to a $2 million donation to charity.
If you're a clothing retailer, you could encourage shoppers to share their outfit of the day. A sporting goods store may hold a biggest fishing catch contest. A jewelry store might start a #throwbackthursday campaign about fond wedding memories – the potential for conversation starters is endless! Play to your brand's strengths and keep things light.
Always have fun with your campaigns. Readers turn to social media for shared experiences, and you can make your brand an integral part of the fun.