A strategic social media plan can have hugely positive impacts on your retail business. Everyone is on social, including your store, most likely. But there’s a difference between just “being on” social media and fully leveraging social media outlets to increase sales. That’s what we’re exploring with this series.
In this second part of our series, we’re covering strategies for finding customers online. In part one, we looked at how to determine which customers to target. (This is all part of a larger series on how small business retail store owners like yourself can sustainably increase sales.)
Here’s what we’ll cover:
Analyze Social Media to Find Your Customers
As we saw in part one of this series, leveraging social media starts by determining which customer segments you want to target. Once you have a specific customer segment in mind, you’ll need to determine where that segment primarily “lives” on social media.
For retail, the primary social channels you’ll focus on will be:
Pinterest and YouTube might also be viable channels for reaching your target audience, but Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the top three, according to a Hubspot survey of 569 consumers.
Hubspot found that consumers expect their favorite brands to have a presence on Facebook more than any other social platform, especially consumers 18 to 44 years old. Twitter and Instagram are the next two most popular platforms. You’d be best to be active and engaged with consumers at least across these three platforms.
Finding customers through social media is less of a door-to-door search and more of a build-it-and-see-if-they-come approach. This doesn’t mean you won’t have to roll up your sleeves and do some digging, though.
Test out various types of posts (content types, messaging, tone etc.) across these three platforms. Then you can pinpoint where various retail social media marketing campaigns are most effective based on the customer activity that results.
We’ll cover the different types of content more in-depth in the next article in this series, but know that it’s crucial to monitor the performance of each post across every platform. Most social sites provide built-in analytics to help you see what’s working and what’s not. These are key to your overall strategy.
For example, Instagram Insights enables you to see how many impressions (views) each of your posts have gained in the past seven days.
Facebook also offers an in depth breakdown that tracks page likes and views, video views, post impressions and more.
You might also find some retail POS systems equipped with social marketing modules. Once you have the performance data, you can analyze the viewers for each post and discover which types of customers are engaging on which platforms with specific types of content.
Use Social Listening Tactics
The strategy of testing out various social posts and then monitoring the reactions they garner is a basic form of social listening, which is a tactic enterprises employ for their social strategies.
The point of social listening is to see which posts resonate with certain customer demographics.
For example, perhaps you notice that several of your high-value customers are active on Instagram and always “like” the videos that feature new products. That would make Instagram a viable channel to promote new high-end products and even offer coupon codes to these big spenders (e.g., 25 percent off purchases over $200).
Another viable means of determining where you can reach customers is checking out your competitors’ social accounts. You’re probably not the only game in town, so find a competitor (or just a similar business) on social and examine how and what they’re doing. Look at activity such as:
- Do they have any posts with a bunch of “likes”?
- Are they successfully able to engage customers through certain posts?
- How often are they posting relative to the number of followers they have?
Answering these questions will help you see where you should be and what you ought to be doing socially.
Engage in Social Conversations
The practice of social listening, even in an informal way, can be extremely beneficial to getting the most out of your social activity. But, listening shouldn’t be misconceived as a purely passive act. You must also take the next step and engage with individual customers. You can do this by:
- Thanking them for following you
- Answering any questions they pose
- Responding to feedback—both positive and negative
Having actual conversations via social networks helps you express empathy and establish lasting, humanized relationships between you and your customers. Not to mention, the Hubspot study found that 73 percent of consumers are more likely to patronize brands that respond on social channels.
Where to Go From Here?
In the first two articles in this series, we’ve outlined how to determine which customers you should be targeting and where on social you should be targeting them. Key takeaways include:
- Collect and analyze customer data
- Tie customer data to social trends
- Employ social listening to pinpoint target customers
- Engage with and respond to customers via social
In part three of this series, we dive into choosing the best content and messaging for your social campaigns. You can also check out user reviews and profiles for retail POS systems and formal social media marketing platforms.