A Retailer’s Guide to Using Social Media: Part I


Your new website is up and running. 

The new tri-fold brochure that introduces your company is hot off the press, just in time to pass out at the upcoming Pet Expo this weekend. 

Your customers [the non-furry, feathered and finned kind] are happy, and they are referring their friends.

The calendar is so full that you’ve started hiring part-time help to manage it all. 

Business is booming. So, now what? 

To continue this momentum, now is the time to consider building a presence on social media. 

Why do you need social media? According to Small Business Trends, 44 percent of local businesses said they depend on social media to generate brand awareness, and 41 percent depend on it to drive revenue.

Additionally, almost 90 percent of marketers say their social marketing efforts have increased exposure for their business, and 75 percent say they’ve increased traffic.

These are some pretty powerful stats.

Among the myriad benefits of using social media are making authentic connections with new and existing customers, broadening your network, building credibility and driving traffic to your website—all of which ultimately contribute to new business. 

To help you get started as a social media rock star, below are basic tips and helpful information to ensure that even the most novice user can be successful.

Know the Networks    
You’ve heard of the major players in the social media universe: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. But the ever-growing social media pool includes additional networks that might make sense for your particular company. Here’s a brief overview of the “Big 8” from a business perspective: 

Who uses it:
Eight out of 10 people on the Internet are also on Facebook.

Key uses: It’s the best network to engage in conversations with customers, and driving traffic to your website from posts and/or ads is relatively easy.

Who uses it:
Businesses with physical locations

Key uses: Posting on Google+ can improve SEO and customers’ ability to find you. It’s ideal for linking content to your website.

Who uses it:
Businesses that leverage photos for marketing purposes

Key uses: It’s ideal for establishing brand identity and personality, featuring product photos and leveraging trending hashtags.

Who uses it:
B2B businesses and service providers

Key uses: It’s THE professional networking site to build business relationships, find and attract new clients or employees and share news.

Who uses it:
Businesses that use creative images for marketing purposes

Key uses: It’s fundamental for e-commerce businesses that feature product images. The great thing is, it’s simple to share visuals that are already on your website.  

Who uses it:
Businesses that offer customer service

Key uses: Use it to post virtually any type of media (pictures, video, etc.), respond directly (and quickly) to customers and leverage trending hashtags.

Who uses it:
B2C businesses offering products and/or services 

Key uses: It’s THE place for customer reviews. Use it to manage reviews; share hours of operation, products and menus; and promote sales and events.

Who uses it:
Businesses that regularly generate videos for customers (i.e., product demonstrations) and embed video content in their websites 

Key uses: It’s THE video-sharing site, with the majority of videos free to view. Create a channel for your business to upload, rate, share and comment on videos as well as subscribe to other users.

Start at the Beginning—with Facebook 
With the ever-growing number of social media sites, it can be hard to know where to focus your efforts, so it’s important to first discover where customers are already spending their social time. Facebook, however, is usually a safe bet. It’s the largest social media network, worldwide. In the U.S., 79 percent of Internet users are active on Facebook, and it also has the highest engagement based on the amount of time users spend on the network. 

If your company doesn’t have a Facebook page, launch one (it’s free) to establish yourself as a legitimate enterprise, make it easier for customers to find you and share news of interest, such as upcoming events, promotions, holiday availability, new staff members, etc. 

Basic Information is Key 
This likely goes without saying, but make sure your business’ social media profile is completely filled out. Customers need to know the essentials, including your website URL, mailing address, hours and contact information.

Your company bio should be short and sweet. Some networks restrict the length, such as Twitter limiting the bio to 160 characters or less. Include information like a list of services as well as the type of customers you serve.

Next week, Part II of this series will explore additional strategies for optimizing your social media profiles.  

Laura Cole is Vice President of Marketing at Vivial, a leading marketing technology company. 
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