Simple Steps To Social Success
June 2012 Integrated Solutions For Retailers
By Matt Pillar, editor in chief
As far as social media outreach is concerned, a lower-frequency, higher-impact approach could yield big results in a crowded market.
For many retailers, simply getting started is the hardest step toward social media success. But many businesses are generating more Web traffic from social mediums like Twitter and Facebook than from the major search engines, proving the huge cross-channel value of social engagement. Here, Mike Adams, manager at Dell Retail Solutions, offers some guidance for those getting started with their social presence.
What are some tips for small and mid-sized retailers to effectively leverage social media?
Adams: Initially, find out what social media properties (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.) your customers are frequenting. Then start the conversations and engage with your potential customers there.
Many social media properties allow you to set up an official company presence. Once you have spent sufficient time and have confidence that your customers are there, set up your official company identity.
Ongoing communication is critical. If you are going to set up a social media presence, keep the communication active with a minimum of two to three useful communications per week. If necessary, hire or designate someone who is primarily responsible for this task. The hours per week required can be significant.
Give your social media friends a reason to come back by providing useful information and/or incentives, such as coupons, discounts, and exclusive offers.
Are certain types of retailers more or less likely to see measurable benefits from investing time and resources into a social media presence?
Adams: All retailers will likely benefit from investing time and resources in social media. However, a retailer whose business naturally provides for frequent interactions with the customer is certainly well positioned to benefit from a social media presence. For example, retailers such as restaurants that have a frequent and regular clientele can naturally interact with the customer with location-based services such as Foursquare and Facebook checkin, and provide many resources that engage and delight their customers. This can provide value to customers and be a real differentiating asset to the retail business.
What are some key social media success indicators that retailers should be working toward as they build out their social media initiatives?
Adams: Certainly the number of followers or community members is a key success indicator. The larger the following or membership, the more people a retailer can reach and have meaningful interactions with.
The level of engagement is another great indicator of success. The more relevant the content, the more the audience is likely to be engaged.
One of the most important metrics, however, is how well the social media efforts are driving traffic back to the retailer’s Web site. It’s important to set up a system to measure, not just link traffic by itself, so a retailer knows where online customers are coming from. It’s also important to measure sales generated from offers or coupons posted through social networks. Many retailers see an increase in Web site traffic as a result of a structured social media engagement strategy, but the only way to know what works is to measure the link traffic. Customer care efforts and issue resolution are other important areas to monitor when measuring success.