Tag Archives: social media

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!

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

The social media space can be confusing for a brick-and-mortar store. What kind of strategy should a small retail owner employ? What goals can they set? And how can virtual engagement bring real people through actual doors?

These questions may have small retail owners thinking “Social” isn’t worth their time, but we think social media can be an invaluable asset to brick-and-mortar stores. In this series of posts, we’ll highlight how social media can grow your business by drawing in new shoppers, and – more importantly – by sewing strong loyalty amongst your existing customers. We hope it will encourage you to explore the possibilities of social media for your business, and the upcoming holiday shopping season is a perfect time to pursue it!

Part I: Why It Matters

Now down to the facts! The bad news first: online shopping is hurting brick-and-mortar business. Online sales account for nearly $200 billion dollars in America alone, and in the past few years, we’ve seen location-based chains like Circuit City, Blockbuster, and Borders shut their doors after they lost their customers, mainly to Amazon. Heading in the same direction are Best Buy, Radio Shack, and Barnes and Noble.

The good news, though, is that you don’t have to start selling online to protect yourself from those sellers’ fates. The key is to leverage your most important asset, your customers.

People like to be a part of a community, and they like it when the businesses they frequent respond to their feedback. Enter social media – the perfect platform for interacting with your customers, addressing their concerns, and building enthusiasm and loyalty for your store.

Our next post in this series will cover some of the differences between major social media networks to help you choose the right one for connecting with your community.

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

Step Zero: A (once) unwritten rule

With a social media expert or guru at every turn these days, we’re bombarded with rules and best practices and top tips to be the kings or queens of social business. Do this, don’t do that, always say this, never say that. But in the muck and mire of all these bullet points, we seem to forget the fundamental rule.

We’re calling that rule Step Zero.

Step Zero: If businesses become operative within social media without regard to their community, they become irresponsible and oppressive.

"Laptop Megaphone" by jj_pappas423 on Flickr

We’re aware of these boundaries in the real world: an overzealous sales associate who stalks each new customer with nonstop pleas for service:  “May I help you?” “Would you like to try that on?” “What are you looking for today?” A customer is likely to walk out of the store every time. But in terms of the web, it takes a different form: countless fan page requests, despite denial time and time again.  And then there’s the megaphone effect, when businesses use social profiles as a megaphone to broadcast their message, without actually participating in the community.

All other subsequent “laws” hinge upon this idea. We often forget that real world rules and courtesies apply within the web. Bombarding social profiles with requests and suggestions is no way to earn business. Once this intangible, invisible line is crossed, marketing efforts become oppressive.

People are generous to extend some level of accepting interruptions. By connecting with businesses online, customers are granting permission for marketing purposes, but don’t take advantage of this generosity. If business exceeds this level, the community will regard it as being socially irresponsible and insulting.

Memphis wants Google Fiber … and the City needs your help!

In case you haven’t heard, Google is currently hosting a nation wide competition to give a few lucky communities around the country super-fast fiber optic broadband networks –  and Memphis is vying for one of those spots. This is an incredibly competitive initiative. Don’t believe us? Just check out what some cities are doing to get Google’s attention.

Google Fiber promises Internet speed up to a one gigabit per second – that’s three hundred times faster than typical home broadband service. The real coup of winning a bid for Fiber, though, would be that Google plans to take this service to every home and business in the chosen communities, regardless of the neighborhood’s commercial potential. An investment of that magnitude could transform an entire city.

So where do you come in? If Memphis wants to be a real contender, then Google needs to hear from members of our community. Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton wrote in his blog ways that we, as Memphians, can help the cause. The first step and one of the easiest (but most important) things you can do is to fill out Google’s web questionnaire for community members, stating your support for Memphis, Tennessee.

Filing the questionnaire is simple. If you don’t have a Google account, then just click here to sign up. If you do, then go ahead and Nominate Your Community. When you are finished, press “submit.”

And if you’re looking to get more involved, there are other ways to help. The city is gathering video testimonials, written letters of support, web content and links to Memphis supporters’ Web sites this week only. You can help by making a one to two minute video of you or your friends talking about why you believe Memphis is the best city for Google Fiber. It doesn’t have to be anything over the top or expensive — even a cell phones video stating the case would make a difference.

E-mail the video file once it’s done and it will be posted to the city’s YouTube channel for Google to review.

Let’s not let this opportunity pass us by, Memphis — we want Google Fiber and we can be the ones to help make it happen.