Tag Archives: Twitter

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!

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.

It’s Friday – do you follow?

When you wake up on Friday morning, is your first thought “TGIF” or “Who will I promote today for #FollowFriday?”

If you’re like many tweeters, it’s the latter. The trending topic that started back in January of last year with a single tweet by @Micah has grown into a well-known weekly tradition since its inception. But has it run its course? While the original idea seemed to be to mention or promote a specific tweeter based on quality content or common interest, now many of the tweets resemble endless strings of @ signs and Twitter handles with no information or discernible reason for following any of them.

It’s become something that you do because, well, it’s Friday and that’s what you’re supposed to do. Right? We sent out a quick poll to some tweeters last Friday to find out what they thought about the whole affair.

Of the 17 respondents we had, the vote was fairly equally split between those who follow the suggestions with some scrutiny and those who are tired of the trend or ignore the tweets altogether. Not surprisingly, no one said that they follow the suggestions blindly.

As early as a few months in to the trend, bloggers were already questioning its relevance, and some have suggested other ways to go about promoting quality content on Twitter.

We’re wondering if the value of the idea hasn’t been lost in the strings of Twitter handles with no explanation of who the person is or what type of content they typically bring to the stream. #FollowFriday is losing its steam and its relevance. What do you think?