What does the social media landscape really look like for retail companies today? What should your retail business be doing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or the countless other networks that are now used for social media marketing? When addressing this seemingly daunting question, it’s less important to think about your specific industry and line of business, and more about consumer behaviour as a whole. It doesn’t matter if you operate a retail store, a service-based business or a restaurant — if your business serves customers through a brick and mortar storefront, you need to be on social media. The daily interaction you have with your customers is something that they will be talking about *somewhere* and is something you want them to be talking about. Naturally, you also want to be part of the conversation. (The same rules apply to online firms in a different but equally important way, but that’s not the focus of this article.) The good news? In most cases, customers love interacting with businesses, and social media can encourage and facilitate your growth.
Why it matters
Content Marketing is regarded as one of the leading marketing methods for a reason — it works. Great content on your website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms all not only naturally encourage more people to learn about your business, but also increase your rank on search engines like Google to help drive more customers to your business. If you’ve Googled your business recently, you may find your website ranks well, but have you considered that your activity on social platforms can also dramatically increase your visibility on search engines? As an example, Facebook pages with high numbers of followers often rank well for key search terms because search engines know they have to have great content to have a following. You need an engaging website, but you also need to do more. Your competition is likely doing more, and for countless other reasons it makes sense to allow customers every practical avenue to interact with your retail business.
People want to be heard
All too often we hear clients worried about reputation management on social media as if they anticipate more complaints that praise. The bottom line is that people want to be heard, and social media channels are very often the preferred channel for customers to share their experiences with your business. The benefit of being part of the conversation is two-fold — it’s critical to know what people are saying, and it’s advantageous to be able to influence the conversation.
Some restaurant owners in particular dislike Yelp, because often times they don’t attend to the comments they receive and have a few, loud customers negatively influence the reputation of their business. Being aware of the conversation is always better than not knowing what people are saying. Being active on the platforms (particularly Facebook and Twitter) allows you to direct the focus of the conversation through your content.
You don’t have to worry about every piece of feedback you receive from your customers. Read every comment, but don’t overthink it. Listen to what people are saying, address any immediate issues, and find direction your business actually needs to go over time. It will be obvious, as you’ll heard it over and over.
“What about my content? What do I post?”
Many business owners new to content marketing straggle with defining what to post, where to post it and when. The specify content and ideal network depends on your business, but what tends to works best on social media is relevant, light, quickly-consumed content. Facebook doesn’t really put a limit on the length of your posts, but you should. (Twitter will limit you to 140 characters.) Once you’ve chosen the networks your customers are likely to be the most active on, try looking at the types of messages you want to convey, but only giving yourself three seconds to consume them (on a newsfeed, this may be all the time you have).
Once you have an audience, asking a question can encourage conversation in a natural way. Start to build an audience by regularly asking your followers for feedback on the products or services you offer (going back to the fact that people want to be heard). Then be sure to share new product photos (or information about new services), and stories from customers. Over time, you can gain an intimate understanding of who your customers are and what resonates with them, but these are three good starting points.
Social media management and social media marketing doesn’t need to be complicated at all. The goal is think of what your ideal customer values, and what they would want to see from a business in your space before committing to be a customer. By understanding this and tying every piece of content you share back to your ideal customer, a relatively small investment in generating quality content will build a customer base that you couldn’t acquire any other way.
Need more help? Our agency specializes in social media management across every major platform and can help your business start reaching new customers right away. Give us a call or drop us a line, we’d love to hear about where you see your business growing and help you get there.