How Does Social Media Affect Retail Communication?
Social media has a significant impact on retail business, from offering another online space for retailers to market their brand and products, to creating additional avenues for consumers to provide feedback and engage with retail brands.
Retailers need to make some changes to build toward a sustainable future with retailing as a social event. Why? Social media is an area of crucial financial significance to a retail brand. According to a telling infographic from Retail Vision, $3.3 billion in retail purchases in 2014 were directly influenced by social media.
How do people use social media to influence their retail decisions? From the most common reasons to the least common, consumers:
- Follow brands for discounts and exclusive deals,
- Follow brands to make a purchase, or,
- Follow brands to communicate with the brand (often about customer service issues).
How does social media affect my brand? Social media affects retail brands in the following ways:
PR Risk Mitigation & Reputation Management: News is now spread with unprecedented speed, since we have so many means of online communication that we can use 24/7. Retail brands can quickly respond to any negative social media activity, lessening the harmful effects and maintaining a more positive brand image. A Chron report noted, “Responding quickly on Facebook or Twitter, for example, to resolve a customer problem can actually foster loyalty and improve the company’s reputation.”
Market Testing & Campaign Effectiveness: With social media, retail customers are now at the brand’s fingertips! Using social media, retailers can test campaign ideas with their social media followers before committing to a large ad spend. Social media also provides up-to-date analytics on a variety of key metrics in order to help brands measure the effectiveness of their social media campaigns.
Customer Engagement & Brand Loyalty: Many people follow brands to gain access to the brand’s discounts and deals. Retailers can use their social media channels to build brand awareness, engage with their online communities, and create brand loyalty.
Can I use social media to benefit my brand? Yes! Retailers can use social media as a benefit to their business in other ways:
- Keep your brand on the cusp of consumer trends. By being active and responsive to your fans and followers on social media, your brand can be far more accurate with forecasting and responding to consumer trends and your customers’ real desires.
- Reduce marketing costs and increase ROI. Social media can be almost free, or at least high on your return on investment. Social media advertising campaigns can be extremely targeted to niche customers, so that you can target your marketing expenditure with far greater accuracy than with print or other avenues of marketing.
- Liquidate excess or outdated inventory. Using social media, you can promote any inventory that you need to unload. However, take care to plan for popular demand for these products, to ensure timely shipping and response to any negative feedback, so that you don’t shoot yourself in the foot.
Which social media network should I be focused on for promoting my brand?
While many retailers use a variety of social media platforms to promote their brand on different social avenues, Facebook is the leading converter for retail consumers. A Shopify report found that, “Facebook dominates as a source of social traffic and sales. Nearly two thirds of all social media visits to Shopify stores come from Facebook. Plus, an average of 85% of all orders from social media come from Facebook.”
That being said, some industries in retail benefit from using more visual social media networks like Pinterest or YouTube to showcase their content: Antiques & Collectibles, Digital Products, Services, Merchandise, Books & Magazines, Automotive, and IT/Computing.
What kind of content should I share?
The success of your activity on Facebook in particular will be determined by Facebook’s algorithm for quality content. There’s not a lot of control that brand pages have on Facebook, but video content is by far and away the best type of content for conversions, consistently converting at 1.16% on social media. Retailers are currently using Facebook to promote their brand using different formats:
- Photos: 71 percent
- Links: 18 percent
- Videos: 7 percent
- Text-Only Updates: 3 percent
Want to learn more about Facebook’s News Feed metrics? Click here for a complete guide.
Social media is here to stay, with platforms like Facebook growing constantly, even as new social networks pop up. Regardless, it’s clear that retailers need to be engaged in social media, not just to protect their brand’s social reputation, but to use it to their benefit.