Getting Social
By Mark Kalaygian
September 30, 2013

When it comes to promoting a retail pet business, it stands to reason that you will want to know what kind of return on investments (ROI) that you are getting from every marketing platform you utilize. However, even as new promotional vehicles have risen in the digital age, it can often be difficult to measure exactly what kind of impact they have on pet store's bottom line.

Luckily, the benefits of at least one modern marketing platform have been seemingly quantified.

A recent survey commissioned by Twitter shed some light on the role that the social media platform can play for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The study, which was conducted by Market Probe International, a New York-based global market research company, included the following revelations about shoppers who participated in the survey:

• 72% are more likely to make a purchase from an SMB they follow on Twitter.

• 85% feel more connected to an SMB after they follow it.

• 73% follow SMBs to get updates on future products.

• 61% follow to interact with SMBs.

• 34% interacted with an SMB after seeing an ad with their Twitter handle advertised.

Of course, as most marketers know, numbers can be made to say just about anything, if framed properly. With this in mind, all of Market Probe International data should be taken with a grain of salt—it was, after all, commissed by Twitter.

For example, the fact that 72 percent of survey respondents indicated that they are more likely to make a purchase from an SMB they follow on Twitter would seem to imply that a popular Twitter feed can drive sales. However, this seems very much like the chicken versus the egg argument. Are the respondents patronizing the business first, or are they being exposed to them on Twitter first? I suspect that it's more the former than the latter.

 

However, there is a lot that can be gleaned from this study, regardless of the spin. Take, for instance, the fact that 73 percent of respondents indicated that they follow SMBs on Twitter to get updates on future products and 34 percent said they interacted with an SMB after seeing its Twitter handle in an advertisement. To me, these are among the most significant points coming out of the study, as they provide a clear indication that consumers are actively utilizing social media to obtain information about businesses and their products.

Smart retailers will leverage this fact by engaging their customer base through social media and other emerging marketing platforms. Indications are that pet stores are doing just that. A recent survey of pet specialty retailers conducted by Pet Business revealed that 40 percent of respondents use social media on a daily basis to promote their businesses. That's a significant increase over the 18 percent who said they used social media with such frequency just two years ago.

At the end of the day, there's much to be positive about on both sides of the equation. Pet stores are becoming more active in marketing their businesses through social media, and apparently, someone is listening.