How To Increase Retail Sales: Using Retail Social Media Marketing (Pt. 1)

By: on September 21, 2016

I began this article thinking it would be the third in our four-part series on How to Increase Retail Sales, offering a quick five-step strategy for getting a social strategy up and running. However, I quickly realized I was trying to squeeze what deserved to be its own in-depth series into a single article. As such, welcome to this series within a series.

In parts one and two of this series, we discuss capitalizing on your existing customers and offer a strategy for identifying your valuable customer segments and engaging them with targeted marketing that keeps them coming back to your store.

Retail social media marketing is a highly affordable and viable way to reach both current and prospective customers.

There are 1.6 billion Facebook users globally. That’s right—billion, with a “B.” Facebook also reaches nearly 100 percent of U.S. millennials, who individually spend over 1,000 minutes each month on the site on average.

So, in case you’re interested in reaching millennial customers (and you should be!) don’t you think that Facebook and other social channels might be a decent place to market your store(s)?

I’d say so. That’s why we’re laying out a strategy for retail social media marketing as the third part of our “How To Increase Retail Sales” series.

This first installment in the third part of our series provides you with a starting point for launching a retail social media marketing campaign. Once you have created your social profiles, your first step is to determine which customers your campaign will target.

While this may seem obvious, specifying your intended audience (through data analysis) will help you successfully engage more past and potential customers on social. This can drive new/more foot traffic to your store and increase sales.

Which Customers Should You Target?

Understanding who you’re targeting, and why you’re targeting them is a best practice for any type of marketing strategy, especially social.

Knowing who your target audience is informs your content, formatting, delivery method and next best action.

This can be as simple as targeting a specific age demographic or gender, but you also have the opportunity to classify and target customers based on a number of more advanced, highly valuable insights.

For example, do you want to use social marketing to target existing customers that you’ve identified as highly valuable, or are you trying to bring in new customers with your social strategy? Are you targeting customers who are ready to purchase or customers at the beginning of the buyer journey?

In a study titled “Use This Formula to Focus Your Social Marketing Strategy,” by Julie Hopkins, she points out:

“Buyers of different products, at different levels of satisfaction and loyalty and at a range of locations on their buying journey, will seek different content, will pursue different dialogues and will be open to engage in different ways across different sites.” (This content is available to Gartner clients.)

Here’s what that boils down to: Target customer segments based on their specific needs.

Now as Hopkins suggests, “needs” can mean a lot of different things based on each customer’s experiences and their stage in the purchasing process. But, that’s why this is such a valuable exercise.

Thinking this way forces you to take on the mindset of your customers when creating social content. By understanding how their needs change along the journey, you can leverage your products as a means for meeting whatever their needs are. As a result, your messaging will be more likely to drive desired next actions.

To help you get customers to that desired next action, we’ve outlined the following process:

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Analyzing Social Followers for Trends

You’re probably thinking: “How the heck am I supposed to know what my customers’ needs are?”

The answer is simple: Data.

Once you have your social pages up and running, it’s time to begin collecting data about your followers. This includes information such as:

  • Who is following your different social profiles?
  • Who is liking your posts?
  • Do you recognize any of them as customers?

Keeping track of this information shows you the type of audience you have for each of your social channels.

When it comes to gathering data from your social accounts, you can get by for now just monitoring followers and keeping tabs on who likes certain content you’ve posted, in an informal way.

Once your social strategy takes off, you can consider adopting one of the many social media analytics software options on the market to keep it growing. With these tools, you can schedule content to post at certain times throughout the day or week. You can also monitor followers, mentions, likes etc.

Collecting Buyer Data to Tie to Social Trends

You need a system in place to gather, record, store and analyze valuable sales and customer data. Such a system enables you to capture and manage customer purchase histories that are tied to their profiles. You can also leverage the system to spot sales trends.

No matter how you parse it, the success of your social strategy depends on this data.

Fortunately, your retail point of sale (POS) system probably already has exactly what you need to collect this data, as most POS systems on the market these days offer some form of customer management capabilities.

These features enable you to create customer profiles to collect valuable contact information and customer purchase histories. (This is assuming you are using a POS.)

You might be surprised to learn that of the thousands of small, single-store retailers we work with each year, 64 percent of them aren’t using any POS software. If you fall into that category, learn more about what exactly a POS systems entails here.

Marrying Social Media And Retail Marketing

Once you have your customer and social follower data, the hard part is over. All that’s left is to analyze it and let it tell you who your valuable customers are and what their needs are. This might sound like reading tea leaves, but I promise it’s a painless yet highly informative process. You simply take your customer data and look for trends.

Here’s an example: Perhaps your customer data shows women spend more in your store than men. And, an informal analysis of your social posts reveals that your female customers respond positively to posts about seasonal products.

You can use this information to launch a new social campaign that highlights seasonal content to target these high value female customers. You can even include a coupon code or discount to encourage repeat visits from these customers.


We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves here. Now that you have an understanding of how to determine which customers you’d like to target, you’ll want to figure out where the best place is to reach these customers. Fortunately for you, we’ll have the answer in our next article. Stay tuned for a link!

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