Guides

A Retailer’s Guide to Social Media Marketing

Introduction

Social media is the key to retailers acquiring new customers, strengthening brand presence and most importantly, increasing the number of orders.

The power of social media in today’s digital age is incredible, so in this guide we’re sharing everything you need to give you a 101 class in social media marketing including…

  • The importance of social media marketing
  • Choosing the right channels
  • Building a social following
  • Finding the right timing and frequency
  • Social media as a customer service tool
  • Measuring performance
  • Top tips for social success

The importance of social media marketing

With nearly one-third of the world using social networks regularly, there’s a huge opportunity for retailers to make the most of the social media obsessed society.

Social media marketing is such a valuable tool for retailers as you’re able to:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Inspire current customers to spend more money
  • Direct more traffic to your ecommerce website
  • Encourage more footfall in your brick-and-mortar store
  • Highlight reviews and happy customers
  • Help customers out when they have a query
  • Most importantly, you can increase your sales!

1/3 of the world use social networks regularly.

eMarketer, 2016

As of 2015, 90% of young adults use social media, compared with 12% in 2005.

Pew Research Center, 2015

As of 2015, 35% of all those 65 and older report using social media, compared with just 2% in 2005.

Pew Research Center, 2015

90% of all marketers indicated that their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses.

Social Media Examiner, 2015

Social Media Success Story: Natural Baby Shower

We asked the social media expert at Natural Baby Shower to share why they think social media marketing is so important and how their business has benefited from ramping up their social media activity.

What social media channels does Natural Baby Shower use?

We use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest as well as being interested in setting up a Snapchat and Periscope presence.

What’s your most successful social media channel?

It’s hard to say because each platform reaches varying demographics. In terms of likes and follows it’s Facebook, but in terms of engagement I would have to say Instagram. The visual platforms get the most engagement as they give us a chance to really show off the beauty of the products we sell.

What’s your view on the importance of retailers getting involved in social media marketing?

I think it is absolutely vital to have a presence on at least two social media platforms. In 2017, there are businesses who run entirely on social media without the need for a website or landing page. I think social media is also imperative for brand awareness, engagement and starting conversations. It helps customers to identify and communicate with a brand, thereby encouraging trust which in itself promotes repeat custom.

How does social media marketing help fuel Natural Baby Shower’s success?

We look at social media as an extension of our website and store, a way to promote our brand, our ethos, and our products. We can reach thousands of people with just one post, sparking conversations and allowing people to get to know our brand enough to continue to order from us whether it’s their first child, or their fifth!

What’s your top tip for other retailers trying to use social media to their advantage?

Establish your brand on social in the same way you do for other promotional materials. Use your brand logos and colors on posts, create a pattern or formula that makes you recognizable. I am currently in the process of streamlining our content in such a way that you only need to see the post to realize that it’s Natural Baby Shower, rather than having to look at the name of the page or even the logo. I would recommend social media as a way to market both your brand’s visual identity, your products and your general ethos or brand message.

“It is absolutely vital to have a presence on at least two social media platforms. In 2017, there are businesses who run entirely on social media without the need for a website or landing page. I think social media is also imperative for brand awareness, engagement and starting conversations. It helps customers to identify and communicate with a brand, thereby encouraging trust, which in itself promotes repeat custom.”

Kira Hawker, Digital Marketing and Social Media Executive, Natural Baby Shower

Choosing the right social media channels for your retail business

When it comes to picking the social media channels you should be focusing on, it can be difficult as social media is constantly changing and you never know when the next platform is ready to hit the internet by storm.

There’s just so many choices – from Facebook to Twitter, Instagram to Pinterest, Snapchat to YouTube, and LinkedIn to Google+.

So, which channels should you pick? How many channels should you focus on?

Well, we’re giving you a quick and informative low-down on each channel to make sure you pick the right channels for your business. We’re touching on the pros and cons specifically for you as a retailer.

Facebook

As one of the most long-running and still successful social media networks, Facebook definitely has its advantages with a forward-thinking team who are always looking to improve and keep the platform up-to-date.

Pros

  • Effective for pre-recorded and live videos
  • The new ‘Shop Section’ feature allows you to sell directly from your Facebook page and integrates with Shopify and BigCommerce
  • Leading a long-standing social media channel

Cons

  • News feed algorithms may be against you
  • To ensure you get seen, you need to pay to sponsor your posts

72% of adult internet users use Facebook.

Pew Research Center, 2015

Twitter

Twitter is an interesting channel as it has a very active and huge number of users but it’s become stagnant in encouraging new users to join. There’s an opportunity for retailers to take advantage of the user base but there’s definitely a debate of how long Twitter will last.

Pros

  • Short, snappy and concise tweets get your point across
  • Great channel to increase brand engagement

Cons

  • Restricted by the character limit
  • Twitter’s no longer growing its user base
  • Twitter hasn’t focused their offering to retailers making it rather difficult to convert sales
  • Public complaints can become very prominent on Twitter

Twitter has 313 million monthly active users.

HubSpot, 2016

Instagram

Instagram was the first successful social media channel to focus solely on images, which is great for retailers as consumers are more likely to engage with visuals and presenting visually-appealing product pictures can be very effective.

Pros

  • Very visual with images and videos taking center stage
  • Great channel for product placement
  • Consumers will be able to buy in app with Instagram’s new “shop now” feature

Cons

  • Instagram’s algorithm may make it hard for posts to be seen
  • Focusing more on advertising which could make organic less effective

Over 95 million photos and videos are shared on Instagram every day.

Instagram, 2016

Pinterest

There’s potential in Pinterest when it comes to retail, especially for retailers selling anything to do with weddings! The organized nature of the pinboard social media channel allows consumers to search and find exactly what they’re looking for or fantasizing about.

Pros

  • Pinboards are very visual, making products very eye-catching
  • Pins link straight to the website for people to buy
  • If the shopper isn’t ready to buy, they can pin it for later

Cons

  • Pins quickly become out-of-date and products can no longer be available but still appear on Pinterest
  • Pinterest browsers are not always looking to buy and are often only fantasizing about products

Pinners are just as likely to purchase as users from other social channels, but spend 50% more on average compared to other social channels. They also spend 20% more than users referred from nonsocial channels, including search.

Pinterest, 2016

Snapchat

Snapchat is the newest kid on the block and has proved its place in the social media market as other channels try to copy its success. There’s a huge opportunity for retailers marketing to teens and millennials.

Pros

  • Attention grabbing and fun with high engagement levels
  • Great for creating brand exposure and building a following
  • Effective platform for highlighting events and interesting in-store happenings

Cons

  • Time sensitive as direct snaps disappear once they’ve been watched
  • Snapchat stories only last for 24 hours
  • Less likely to lead to a sale as the primary audience may not be looking to buy when they’re browsing through their snaps

Snapchat has 150 million daily active users.

Statista, 2016

Building a social following

After deciding which social media channels are right for your business, the next step is to build up that social following and that’s not always easy if you’re starting from nothing!

Here are our top tips for getting to the top:

1. Be patient because in most cases you won’t go viral overnight

It takes time to acquire followers so it’s very important to keep calm and carry on when it comes to finding your followers. Try following those who’d you like to be followed by, they might just follow you back!

2. Put time and effort into focusing on building your following

Time is key to everything but when it comes to increasing page likes or gaining followers, it really can be a waiting game. The more you grow, the faster your follower base will grow. Keep at it by continuing to put the effort in.

3. If you’ve got the money to spend, why not try promoting your channels for more page likes or followers?

Promoting your page or account can be a great way to get followers fast. Facebook has a great advertising platform that allows you to promote your page with a call-to-action of liking your page. Why not give it a go?

4. Stay active and post regularly

Nobody’s going to follow you if your page or account looks dormant, ensure you keep your profiles up-to-date and post regularly. Staying active is the key to continuing to grow your follower base.

5. Identify and network with influencers in your industry

One of the most valuable things when it comes to gaining social media followers is influencers. Identify key influencers in your industry and focus on making them aware of your brand. It’s surprising how many followers you’ll get off the back of an influencer’s support.

6. Encourage your customers to follow you

Spread the word both online and offline. Ensure your website has your social media channels highlighted in your header or footer. Include the social media buttons and highlight your channels in your email marketing. Go the extra mile and give customers business cards with your social media handles when they purchase in your store.

7. Cross-promote your social media channels

If you’ve got one social media channel performing better than another, cross-promoting your channels can be a great way to give them a boost. Take to Twitter to shout about how your followers can follow you on Instagram.

8. Encourage shoppers to talk about their purchases

When someone makes a purchase, why not ask them to share a picture online and tag you in it? Word of mouth is a powerful concept and the one-to-many approach of social media can be very effective. If you’re struggling to get people to get involved, why not offer them 10% off their next visit if they share something on one of their social media channels?

Finding the opportune moment

Timing is everything, so what’s the best time to post on social media? Well, this certainly varies between different social media channels and will definitely depend on your own target audience but here’s our best advice.

The perfect time to post

Evenings can be very effective for retailers as people unwind from work and look to make some online purchases.

Lunchtime is a great time to post as people look to escape from the thought of going back to work and take a scroll through their timelines.

The mid-afternoon slump is an opportune time to post as people become easily distracted and take a sneaky break from work to daydream about what they could be doing if they weren’t at work.

Best days and times per channel

Facebook:

  • 12-1pm on weekends
  • 3-4pm on Wednesdays
  • 1-4pm on Thursdays and Fridays

Twitter:

  • 12-3pm on weekdays
  • 5-6pm on Wednesdays

Instagram:

  • Anytime Monday-Thursday except 3-4pm

Pinterest:

  • Evenings on weekdays
  • 5pm on Fridays
  • 8pm-11pm on Saturdays

Finding the appropriate frequency

It’s very important to not post too much or too less and find the right balance that works for you. So what is the appropriate frequency?

  • Daily posts tend to work well for retailers – consumers can see you’re always active and it allows you to promote more products.
  • Try posting 2-3 times per day. If this gets too much or it becomes too little then adjust accordingly. Measure this by the number of engagements you get on your posts.
  • Stick to a similar frequency so your followers know when to expect your amazing tweets, pictures and posts!

Try using a scheduling tool like HootsuiteHubSpot and TweetDeck to help make getting the frequency right much easier. Schedule a few days of content at a time so you know you’re ahead of the game and you can get on with other tasks.

Social media as a customer service tool

Why limit yourself to the traditional communication channels such as phone and email? Go above and beyond by allowing your customers to also reach you on social media!

When it comes to retail, social media can be a great customer service tool as consumers often take to Twitter or Facebook to ask any questions they may have. However, it doesn’t come without its issues as many shoppers will always take to social media when they’ve got a complaint. Here’s our advice for using social media as a customer service tool:

  • Listen to what your customers have to say
  • Strive to resolve issues and reply to queries
  • Don’t keep them waiting and reply in good time
  • Stay positive at all times
  • Learn when to take issues offline
  • Treat your customers on social media as well as you would in store

Using social media as a customer service tool can be really rewarding for everyone – both for the business and the customer, so make the most of it!

Measuring performance

The next step after implementing a social media strategy is reporting on its performance so this chapter covers the most important KPIs you need to be tracking.

Once you’ve found your feet and hit the ground running with your social media, it’s important to measure your performance to ensure it’s working for your retail business.

These are the KPIs you should be tracking:

  • Follower/fan growth
  • Content engagement
  • Website visits
  • Sales from social media
  • Engagement with influencers
  • Engagement with customers

Each social media platform offers some reporting functionality so take advantage of it to find out whether you’re a social success. Most importantly, ensure you’ve got tracking set up to your ecommerce website so you know which sales are coming from your social media marketing efforts.

Top tips for social success

In this final chapter, we wanted to share our best advice by offering our top tips for social success. If you follow these actionable steps to becoming a social media marketing pro, you’ll be well on your way to increasing your brand awareness and sales in no time!

  • Focus on growing your followers
  • Start a conversation and try to get people talking
  • Monitor and reply when necessary to any comments and mentions
  • Keep your posts frequent and interesting
  • Find the right time by testing what times work best for your business
  • Set up appropriate brand alerts across your social media channels
  • Keep it visual as images and videos have the highest impact Ensure the main focus is your products