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Brick-and-Mortar Retail and Social Media: Making It Work for You (Part II)

In our last post on social media for brick-and-mortar stores, we explained why a social media strategy matters and how it can build your customer loyalty. But where to start? As with any effective marketing strategy, the best way to start is by defining the target audience, which in the case of brick-and-mortar stores, will be tied to one particular area. The next step is to determine what social network your target audience uses most.

Part II: Choosing Your Social Media Platform

Facebook is a safe bet. With a community of over one billion, Facebook is a likely to host the largest number of your potential customer base. Facebook is also fairly business-friendly. Not only do they have a business page template to make it easy for companies to engage their customers, but they also offer detailed analytics (called “Facebook Insights”) on your community and how they interact with you. This means you can see what posts and photos promoted the most excitement and self-correct your strategy. Facebook also offers a paid-ad service that can target just those users in your geographic location.

Twitter also has a very large community of active and widespread users. The format is much sleeker and posts tend to be much simpler – not to mention always shorter than 140 characters. This might be ideal for someone who wants to keep their presence low-maintenance and to the point. That said, content posted on Twitter tends to have a very short shelf life. While posts on Facebook may still be seen and commented upon hours or even days later, Twitter posts tend to receive the most engagement within a few minutes, so posting several times a day is more effective on this platform.

Pinterest is a relative newcomer to the social media network party, but it’s certainly made a huge splash, especially amongst clothing, jewelry, home goods, and crafts dealers. A beautiful interface combined with “Like” capabilities make this a great community for sharing photos of your latest items, especially if you are focusing on attracting women to your store.

Yelp can be the best friend of a retailer or the bane of their existence. If you haven’t already, check to see if your business has a page on Yelp. This means someone has already reviewed your store. Unfortunately, if you have not been reviewed, you cannot make a business page. However, once you are reviewed, you can unlock your page, which gives you the capability to offer deals and even message your customers through Yelp.

Instagram has a few distinct advantages over the previous networks. First, it’s dead simple. It’s just about sharing photos with your community. Secondly, the Instagram app adds creative enhancementsto your photos right from your phone. It even works in low light! The downside to Instagram is that the community is relatively small compared to the previous networks. Because of it’s built-in integration with Facebook and Twitter, though, you can easily use Instagram as a great camera app and just push your photos to the more popular networks.

If you’re still not sure where you want to begin building a presence, make it a point to survey your customers about where they would connect with you directly. Ask your customers to fill out the following card at checkout:

Most people will be willing to check a box while they wait for you to run their credit card.

The next post in this series will cover tips for breaking into the social space, building an audience, and having meaningful engagement with your social media community.

If you’re looking for Part I and III of this series, here they are!