If you’re new to social sites like Facebook and Twitter and are trying to understand how to market your store effectively, you are not alone. Thousands of retailers across the country are trying to learn how these tools relate to their business and how they can use them to compete with big box stores, increasing foot traffic and sales. Here are 5 tips to help you get started with your social media efforts.
1. Pictures! If you don’t have a phone with a built-in camera, make sure you bring your digital camera into the store, because you’re going to want to make your customers so excited for your new products they can’t stand it! Take pictures of some new items or lines you just bought. Post to your Facebook page and let your networks know that, in a matter of days, they could get their hands on those items. If you’re at a market, posting pictures of the showrooms and people shopping is also a great way to let your customers in on your business, giving them a “behind-the-scenes” look and strengthening your relationship with them.
When posting on Facebook, remember that status updates that include a photo or video have a higher weight according to Facebook’s algorithm, EdgeRank. What this means are posts that include a photo or video will stay in your fans’ Newsfeeds longer, giving them more exposure. Photos are a great way to showcase your store and products, but also a way to gain more attention on Facebook.
2. Follow Vendors and Sales Agencies. The best way to stay up-to-date with your vendors is by monitoring your favorite lines and sales agencies on Twitter and Facebook. You might even find specials or hot items posted on their social media outlets. To find their accounts (if you don’t know them already) visit their websites, go to search.twitter.com and enter the company name or try Googling their name +Twitter.
3. Use Hashtags: You might not know what a hashtag is, so let me first explain. Hashtags were developed as a means to create ”groupings” on Twitter. Through these you can tag a post with a keyword so it can be found or referred to later. You create a hashtag simply by prefixing a word with a hash symbol: #hashtag. Here are a few examples:
4. Talk to the locals, online: If you’re a brick and mortar store then you need to be targeting people who live in your area who can easily come in and shop! If you don’t target your efforts online you could be spending your precious time networking with people who live thousands of miles away and most likely will never buy from you.
One way to find people who live in your area who use Twitter is a site called Twellow.com. From Twellow, click on the Twellowhood tab and you can see how many Twitter users are in your area. If you see less than one hundred or so, Twitter might not be the best place for you to market your store, unless you sell online. If you see more than one hundred (maybe even thousands), start following each user. Not only is this is a great way to build your followers but you’ll also start connecting with locals who can attend your events and buy your products!
On Facebook, you can find out how many people are in your area who use Facebook by going to their ads platform. From here, you can set up demographics and psychographics like age, location and interests. On the right hand side of the screen, Facebook will display the number of people who fall within the parameters you set. If your budget allows, you can advertise to those people with a Facebook ad that clicks through to your Facebook Business Page or your website (if you sell online).
5. Attend a social media webinar. I’m sure you often ask yourself: How will I market the products in my store? What should I say? How often? What sites are right for me? It’s important to create a marketing plan and make sure social media is included. To better understand these tools so you don’t waste too much time doing the wrong thing, or upset your networks by spamming them too much, attend a free social media webinar. SnapRetail hosts monthly topics that are geared specifically toward independent retailers. You can also check out Social Media Examiner for a selection of online summits and events.
If you can embrace social media, you will find how beneficial it is for your store. Just make sure you know what you’re doing, how to use the sites and create a plan of action first that way you can track your efforts.
Crystal Vilkaitis is the Director of Social Media for SnapRetail, helping independent retailers market their stores using email, Facebook, Twitter, daily offers and other social media tools to bring traffic into their stores and strengthen the relationship with their customers. Crystal was featured in Fast Company’s Most Influential Person Online campaign, ranking in the top 2%. She manages the SnapRetail Facebook page, which was named in the top three small business pages by Social Media Examiner out of over 1,400 nominations. Crystal speaks at all the major markets and has conducted over 200 seminars and webinars speaking to thousands of retailers about how to effectively use social media.