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Like it or Not, Retail is a Social Game

February 12, 2014 By Bill Stewart, CEO and Founder, Petra Industries
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To many, a social media site like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube is just another place for businesses to spend precious advertising and marketing resources. But it doesn’t cost a cent to launch a Facebook page or Twitter account. The primary resource necessary to promote via these platforms is time.

Social media presents the opportunity to connect with customers in ways traditional media tactics can’t provide. Unfortunately, many companies use social media as simply an extension of their one-way communication, pushing out their messages as monologue marketing. But social media allows for conversations, relationships and interactive dialogues with customers. Through these platforms, you can further develop lasting relationships and build trust.

So, here are a few recommendations to get you going.

Start simple — don’t launch your social media presence on every platform all at once. A great place to begin is with Facebook, the most popular social media platform, by creating a fan page for your store. The next step is to attract an audience, or enough “likes,” in Facebook lingo, to reach a critical mass. Your desired number of fans will vary depending on your business and market area, but set a goal of a few hundred fans and focus your efforts on attracting a following. Start with your friends and family, and the friends and family of your employees. If they comment on, or “like,” one of your posts, people in their network will begin to see your posts, and the snowball effect begins.

Another strategy is to make sure fans know where to find you. The Facebook logo is well known, so a few in-store signs with the logo, the message “like us” and your store’s user name should do the trick. You can also add the Facebook icon to your home page, include the icon in any promotional emails you send to customers, and offer a discount or incentive for “liking” your Facebook page. If you’re devoting advertising budget toward social media, consider buying Facebook ads and promote posts to attract fans more quickly.

What’s next? Post relevant content to your page, especially posts that inform and entertain. Remember, this isn’t monologue marketing; you’re trying to start a conversation. Begin by introducing a topic or asking a question to which your followers can respond with comments.

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