Today, most retailers understand they have to have a presence on social media. However, realizing true business value from social media has been difficult for many companies. Once you’ve got profiles set up, what comes next? Evolving a traditional media plan into an engaging digital and social strategy which provides a return on investment, can be elusive for those who are new to the social game. While every retailer’s path to social media success will be different, by using analytics and a strategic approach, they can find the same great results. Here are some steps companies can take to ensure a smooth and effective transition.
Know Where Your Customers Hang Out
It is very easy to waste resources on the newest and shiniest platforms in social media and falling for a trend can be the fastest road to failure. In order to maximize a transition into social media, retailers must know where their customers are hanging out. Demographics and psychographics can be utilized to make wise choices. Retailers with a strong millennial base might choose to focus on Instagram, for example, while those with an older customer base may see better success on Facebook. Spreading social efforts thin and trying to be all things to all people is never wise. Retailers are best served by pinpointing the places their audience spends time online.
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Know Why You Want To Be On Social Media
Before a retailer even thinks about dipping their toes into the social waters, they must know the goals they’re trying to achieve. Customers want to engage with brands and stores on social media, but why? They hope to see new products, learn about special offers & discounts, and they want to have their customer service needs addressed instantly. Retailers must decide whether or not they can meet those demands, and have a plan in place – and a staff – to manage each of these three areas. Many times, companies new to social media leave all aspects of social media to the marketing department, but trusting customer service in the hands of non-customer facing employees can be a disaster.
Retailers must be realistic when planning social media teams. How many employees will be designated to the effort? Will social media management be outsourced to a third-party specialist? How much time and attention should each social account receive? Once a plan is put in place for managing social media, budget dollars can be designated appropriately for the effort.
Transition Without Raiding Your Traditional Media Budget
Many retailers raid their traditional media budgets to support social media efforts. While some funds might need to be shifted around, retailers that are new to social strategies might want to look elsewhere for budget dollars. It makes little sense to take money away from media plans and traditional marketing efforts that are working well and redirect it towards untested platforms. Most marketers evaluate current marketing efforts, reallocating funds of those that show little return into social media. Regardless of how it’s funded, retailers should focus first and foremost on realizing the value in a strategic and calculated manor to ensure their social presence has an impact on sales.
Don’t Neglect Analytics
Just how does social media impact sales? Contrary to popular belief, social media is a strategy for growth, not a popularity contest. Retailers can easily get hung up on collecting likes and shares for the sheer ego value. While it is important to connect with as many users as possible, engagement is even more critical. Why? When users engage, they are providing data. That data can be used to develop actionable insight, which will allow a social campaign to see a return on investment by converting potential prospects into real customers. If a retailer doesn’t know whom their potential customers are, what their online habits and interests are, or where their motivations lay, those fans and followers provide no sustainable value. No social media plan is ever complete, nor can it ever truly have an impact on sales without a strategy to utilize analytics.
Most retailers should consider a social media plan, however, not if it means compromising other proven, profitable traditional media. Let it happen organically. By learning about your potential audience, easing into the transition and utilizing analytics to leverage data, retailers increase the chance that their transition into social media will be smooth and successful.