Use these social media tips to boost your sales online and in your store.
If you’ve ever wondered the value of social media for retail stores and how it can help, you’re not alone. Nearly all small retail store owners struggle with the time it takes to effectively manage social media and the impact it actually has on their businesses. Fortunately, however, businesses that engage in social media regularly are able to easily see the value it has on their stores.
“Since its inception, social media as a marketing channel has proven to be one of the most valuable and cost effective ways for independent retailers to reach customers and influence purchase decisions. Independent retailers often don't have lofty marketing budgets like their big box counterparts, so leveraging a cost-effective channel like social media is crucial for them to stay top-of-mind with customers and build brand loyalty,” explains Jenny Servis, Marketing Director for SnapRetail, an online marketing company that supports independent retailers.
With small budgets, limited employee bandwidth and time never on their side, independent retailers should constantly evaluate social media best practices. Among their top priorities should be to also evaluate how social media can bring attention to both their online and freestanding stores.
There’s a reason social media has the word “social” in it. Quite simply, it aims to engage people from a – you guessed it – social perspective. This means that in order for it to work, you have to actually be social.
Social nowadays doesn’t just mean saying hello and being friendly. Instead, social implies connecting with people – aka customers – online and off in a fashion that gets people interested in wanting to “like”, “share”, “post”, “comment” and ultimately, care. This said, you can’t just “share," “post” or “like” information; you have to interact.
“Social media is all about engagement. The more customers engage with independent retailers the more likely they are to remain loyal to their brand and advocate through their social networks. There is a direct correlation between social sharing and sales. Everyday social media helps customers decide whether or not to visit a store through engaging conversations on social networks,” shares Servis.
Social Sales: What You Can Do Right Now
Companies like Soldsie.com and Beetailer.com are great tools for independent retailers looking to gain sales directly from social media. Both companies provide easy-to-implement ways for merchants to post products on social media and allow customers to make purchases by posting in the comment section. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Fortunately, it’s not.
By engaging your customers via social media, you’re ultimately giving them an avenue to purchase from you. This road can take them to your physical storefront or a purchase point online; either way it helps to drive traffic to your cash register.
“More than 40% of social media users purchase an item after sharing it with friends online,” Servis further states, sharing data collected from SnapRetail’s constant research among independent retailers and their online engagement.
Create an Editorial Calendar
To encourage sales via social media, it helps to identify some action steps through your social engagement. Sharing fun facts that would interest your customers is one way to do this. Here's an example that a fashion retail store might use social media:
“Did you know Single’s Awareness Day lands on the same day as Valentine’s Day? Don’t wait for anyone else to get you something fabulous this February 14. Instead, get something for yourself!”
To further enhance a post like this, include an image of an item from your store and a direct URL to where they can purchase it online. Or, simply add “in stores now” to conclude your post. Take a good look at your calendar for the year and get creative.
Post Multiple Times a Day
Chris Bennett, CEO of Soldsie, believes that consistency is also important to retaining customer interest.
“To keep your audience interested, post multiple times a day. If you don’t want to (or can’t) do this daily, at least aim to post five times a week. You don’t always have to post products, though. You can also post engaging content such as questions or funny pictures that just keep people talking and keep you relevant,” shares Bennett.
Servis agrees with Bennett that social media for retail stores is about more than the digital connection, reminding retailers: “Social media isn’t just about online interaction. It connects consumers with stores, which helps drive them into stores -- and helps to create sales.”
See What’s Trending...So You Can Buy Right
Being committed to social also allows you to connect more deeply with your customers to learn what they want to see in your store. This enthusiastic "online focus group" will help you purchase on-trend product at the right time, and in just the right amounts. Ask questions occasionally on your social media channels to see exactly what people want - and then lead the way.
The Final Word
Social media for retail stores isn’t just about sharing; it’s about connecting, engaging and capturing dollars. In order to do this, though, it takes consistency -- which means there’s no time to waste. Ready?
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By Nicole Leinbach Reyhle
Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is co-founder of the Independent Retailer Conference, columnist for Forbes, and publisher of online magazine Retail Minded.