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

In our previous post in this series, we highlighted five different social media platforms to help you decide which network would best suit you and your community. If you’ve settled on a platform, it’s time to take the leap into engagement.
Part III: Cultivating and Measuring Successful Social Interaction

You will always be best prepared if you first join a social network as a user. Get a feel for what it’s like to a person in that particular social space before interacting as a business. Some networks are more tolerant of business practices than others. No need to attempt to be the life of the party right off the bat. In fact, we initially recommend “lurking” (or watching) on the social network. By watching without contributing, you can get a more solid feel for how the existing community interacts. Once you feel comfortable, you can start posting and engaging!

A few important tips:

  • Be genuine. Let the tone and content of your social media contributions exemplify the character of your business.
  • Share content from “behind the scenes.” Photos and videos of employees and insight into day-to-day operations can let your customers feel more like a part of your business. The more invested they feel in your store, the more likely they are to drop by to shop. Think of is as giving them a “back stage pass.”
  • A picture’s worth a thousand words. With the exception of Twitter, all the social media platforms previously mentioned are perfect for photo content, which is generally far more eye-catching and engaging than type. Try out a few shots of your newest products!
  • Offer deals. Who doesn’t love deals? Be creative – your social following will love the exclusives. Be sure to familiarize yourself with each networks terns of use regarding contests though!
  • Show your expertise. If your community can see that you really know everything about your products, they’re more likely to seek your advice and buy from you.
  • Tell stories. If you sell outdoor gear, tell a story about how a product held up in extreme conditions. If you sell women’s shoes, talk about the compliment your customer received the other day when they stepped out in your new heels, on sale at your store.
  • Let it get personal. Person-to-person interaction is the real purpose and advantage of social media. When your customers know you, they will want to help your business.

The last issue that concerns a small business about a social media strategy is the payoff. With metrics like Facebook Insights, you can see how your online community is growing, but how do you know if that’s translating into more customers in your actual store?

If you offered a deal on your social network, you can see how many people bring in that coupon or code. You can also try the cards again:

Odds are, with a small business, you’ll know if your online presence is generating the consumer loyalty you’re looking for. Stay engaging and share your genuine self with your customers, and you’re on the road to social media success!

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

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