The increasing importance of social media in business is evident: as 72 percent of opinion-seekers ages 25 to 34 look to social media for recommendations when purchasing goods and services, retailers can't ignore how social media can impact the buying experience and increase sales.
Social networking makes it easy to solicit opinions from friends and tastemakers: you can't overestimate the importance of social media in business. If a trusted friend likes a product or service, we believe that we will too. Conversations take place on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or other social media channels well before the actual purchase is made. The key for retailers is to get in on those conversations early with a presence that conveys accessibility and credibility.
Analyzing Data and Finding Influencers
Businesses can profit from a thoughtful social strategy that focuses on specific goals: what does your company hope to achieve by becoming a social networking presence? A well-honed social strategy can assist with building brand loyalty, strengthening customer relationships, and improving credibility. Here are ways to create a social media strategy that will be a substantial asset to your organization:
1. Posts must drive traffic to your site. Pictures are a must, but striking the right tone is even more important. Conduct research to learn what products are selling, what is trending within your key demographic, and then post relevant content. What is posted must be "relatable." Optimize content by posting often, on a regular basis, and at times your target audience is most likely to engage. Millennials, especially, want to feel connected to a brand. They want to "learn from," rather than be "sold to."
Remember, each social network is unique and the best times to post can vary from site to site.
2. Read tweets and status updates within your key customer demographic for insights. Does your brand complement their activities? What products are your customers buying—not just from you—and why? Learn what they do on weekends, and see what kinds of posts they share. That provides a great opportunity to ask for user-generated content. For example, Starbucks' White Cup Contest asked customers to doodle on their Starbucks cups and submit pictures as entries. Chobani asked for videos and photos praising its yogurt. Requesting user-generated content proves you genuinely value customer feedback.
3. Find the influencers. Many segments have key influencers—people who are tastemakers. What they say online sells, so find them and forge a relationship. Getting on their radar will greatly amplify your marketing message and enhance your image with customers. For example, target bloggers who are relevant to your customers. They have readers you could potentially reach through the influencer's follower base. Engage with those influencers by posting relevant content on the social networks they favor.
4. Be attentive. Your social strategy is an extension of your customer service. Therefore, your networks should be monitored and responses should be friendly, professional, and prompt. Increasingly, customers are looking at "social care" as a preferred alternative to phone calls. In the event a negative comment appears, a quick, timely, knowledgeable answer is required. While unflattering posts are undesirable, they can present an opportunity for your brand to offer assistance and to distinguish itself as responsive.
Measure, Plan, and Deliver
How can you ensure the right integration of social media in your omnichannel strategy? Have clear social media marketing goals. Use metrics to inform you about activity, reach, engagement, conversion rates, etc. whenever possible to create measurable goals. For instance, measuring conversion rates will tell you if your marketing is bringing people into the store who aren't buying your products. Then you can investigate why that's happening and create a solution.
A plan will help keep you focused. Your strategy should identify what channels to target, what content is relevant, and how to attract user-generated content.
Specific, measurable, realistic, and time-sensitive goals help you stay on track and adjust tactics to compete against your rivals more successfully. Of the top 100 brands, 90 percent have an Instagram account. While only 4 percent of Fortune 500 companies engage with their customers on Facebook, 83 percent have a presence on Twitter—and you should too.