Do you have your credit number memorized because you are a frequent online buyer? No? Well, maybe your bank account is better off than mine. Nonetheless, online retail is at an all time high, with e-commerce sales Inc. 500 companies, the top three social media platforms with the most users are Facebook (74%), LinkedIn (73%), and Twitter (64%). These sites are great points of entry for retailers, but we don't suggest these be the only sites retailers should be utilizing, as it all depends on retailers' overall objectives and goals. One of the most common social media pitfalls is feeling the need to be present on all social channels available. It is important to remember all social media platforms are not created equal ' they differ in purpose, tone, and require different approaches. Not to mention the bandwidth issues associated with trying to manage multiple platforms is huge. Quality over quantity is a pretty good rule of thumb here.
With sites like Pinterest gaining steam and Facebook attracting 500 million unique users monthly, here are a few tips for how to leverage your social media channels to drive retail:
- Reputation management. You can't ignore the fact that Facebook alone now has over 900 million users who may be talking about you, and there are a dozen other platforms that have over 100 million users, such as Twitter, LinkedIn and, Google+. You need to protect and grow your brand, so the first step is to know what's going on. The best defense is a good offense.
- Build your brand visibility to position yourself as an expert. Engaging in social media and blogging on a regular basis is a low-cost way to achieve visibility and become a thought leader for that topic and a voice that people trust in your industry. That's how you brand yourself as an expert in your niche and make your company the one that others seek out. Customers today trust those they know and those they see others trusting. This doesn't mean spamming users with articles and opinions. Generate thoughtful conversation and make use of imagery, which catches user attention.
- Increase customer leads and conversion. With most of the population now using social media, at least 30% of users look at business profiles on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn before buying any product or service. Of those, approximate 70% said they wouldn't deal with a new company if it didn't have a social media presence. Having a presence doesn't mean having a dormant page. You need to make users feel special. Creating exclusive deals for fans and followers is a great way to drive traffic and increase conversion.
- Maximize customer retention. It's a well-known adage of business that efforts to retain existing customers have tremendous payback, compared to the costs of attracting new customers. Courting them with ongoing updates and special offers through their social networks is a natural way to keep their loyalty.
- Be Proactive. Why not ask customers for feedback before there is a problem, and watch what they are telling their friends, both good and bad? The ability to monitor consumer tastes also grants access to a wealth of information that may help with product line planning and inventory.
While social media does have the ability to drive sales and increases conversion rates from various platforms, it is first and foremost a forum for two-way communication between customers and retailers. It also presents a fast and cost-effective way to gather information about new markets. The bottom line is retailers need to determine the most appropriate platform to fulfill objectives and communicate business messages.