If you’re an independent retailer, you have to have a social media profile. That’s the accepted wisdom. There are flocks of articles online shouting about the amazing power of social media for content marketing, engagement and branding. But statistics in recent years have shown that social media is actually a pretty poor source for social selling for retailers. So what is it good for?
There’s no need to close down your Facebook page quite yet. While social media might not drive sales in quite the way some marketers hoped it would. It’s still an invaluable tool for an independent retailer, if used right.
For an independent business, growing a social media audience or using social media advertising is still an effective way of telling people about your brand. Brand-building requires a consistent approach to content and tone of voice across several platforms.
The best retail social media accounts mix product sharing with curation, delivering value for their followers. This might be sharing links, complimentary products, information or external content, attracting an audience who come for more than bland brand talk.
Social Selling: Creating Emotional Connections
Social media is fueled by emotional connection. Fish oil brand MegaRed launched a Facebook campaign to boost sales. Instead of their traditional focus on product features, they chose to go with a more emotionally focused approach. They used an image of a granddad teaching his grandson to ride a bike with the tag line “What does your heart beat for?” Gaining the campaign more than a percentage point in market share compared to previous campaigns.
Local Brands for Local People
Social media might not be the social selling powerhouse it was once billed as, but at a local, street-by-street level, it can still drive customers to your door.
Boots UK has well over 800 thousand fans on its Facebook page. A recent Facebook post about an in-store offer got 110 likes and 59 shares. That’s around a 0.02% engagement rate. And this isn’t unusual; according to research by marketing firm Forrester, the engagement rate among fans of a brand on an average Facebook post is 7 in 10,000.
Compare this to a café on my local high street. The café only have 1,300 Facebook fans, but the engagement rate on a recent post about a new menu item was 1.85%. Reaching almost 93 times more engagement than Boots achieved.
The reason a local café is achieving better engagement rates than a national retailer is that their fans are a real community. The fans are engaging with a post about a new menu item because it’s round the corner from them. They’re already engaged.
Social media used at a local level to reach out to your community will tap in to the engagement that’s already there.
Look beyond Facebook and Twitter
Many retailers ignore the social selling opportunities within the social media landscape that lies beyond the megalopolis of Facebook and Twitter, but it can be fertile ground for an independent.
Instagram, the photo-sharing social network, blows Facebook and Twitter out of the water when it comes to engagement. Forrester found that posts from top brands generated a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21%, 58 times higher than Facebook and 120 times more than Twitter.
Pinterest is a powerful platform for retailers. Whereas Facebook and Twitter are used primarily for interpersonal communication, Pinterest is used as a scrapbooking tool. You can search and save inspiration for anything, from interior design to fashion. Users are in a buying frame of mind as they browse, making it a powerful place to have your brand.