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Just Pin It: How Retail General Managers Can Master Social Media

Posted by Brandon Weaver | Wed, Sep 25, 2013 @ 05:00 PM

social media increasing store visitsIt is no secret that people love social media. We are flooded with messages all day, every day. "Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter..."

Have you lost count of how many "selfies" you've seen just today? Us too. Besides selfies, one of the most tweeted type of pictures shared on social media are people posting new outfits. Sometimes, a person will even insert the store's Twitter handle in the message, how much (or how little) he or she spent on the outfit and where others can purchase the same thing. Attention general manager: We're leading you to the water, now all you have to do is drink - no, gulp - and do it quickly.

The question of DO YOU engage with consumers on social media is outdated and was long ago replaced with HOW DO YOU engage with them and what networks do you use? The power and capabilities of social media sites continue to evolve and prove their value in new ways, every day.

Researchers at Vision Critical, publishing in the Harvard Business Review, provide data stating that "41% of respondents practice 'reverse showrooming' - browsing online and then purchasing in stores" (see their chart below). Retailers should embrace social media, and in particular Pinterest, because of its capacity to counteract showrooming (reverse showrooming, if you will). Pinterest allows users to be creative with arts and crafts, meal suggestions and, yes, even wardrobe options. A recent Business Insider article notes that Pinterest actually influences shoppers to purchase in store, as opposed to online.

Pinterest reverse showrooming

Going one step further, Twitter's promoted tweets have proven to increase brick-and-mortar store sales too. These specific messages are sponsored by the retailer to appear at the top of a user's timeline, topping other non-paid tweets, which are shown in chronological order. As Internet Retailer reports, promoted tweets from retailers have seen favorable results:

  • 12% more money spent on brand's products in store after interacting with a promoted tweet, including retweets, replies or sharing the post
  • 29% of people spend more after viewing a promoted tweet

Let's use Instagram as an even better example. Instagram is different from Twitter and Facebook because when you post, you have to post a picture - not simply a text-based status update. Brands have gotten into the act. More and more retailers are starting to recognize "social shopping" where consumerssocial media retail interact with each other and the brand itself in the shopping experience. With the ability to search by keywords and hashtags, consumers can read what others are saying about brands. From a brand's perspective, the search function can allow retailers to comment and "like" pictures from consumers. From the consumer's perspective, there's the crowdsourcing potential - buyers can get near-instant feedback on whether to buy an item or not. And the more social media followers a user has, the higher chance for comments and likes.

To this point, The Guardian says "nearly half of social media users are already using social platforms while thinking about making a purchase, and a similar number of users are actively deciding what to buy based on what they have seen on social media platforms, including reviews and recommendations." Bottom line: It all comes down to engagement, both consumer-to-consumer and brand-to-consumer.

Two of the best brands we've seen on both Instagram and Twitter are GoPro and CamelBak because they offer tips and tricks how to use their products better. Throw in Instagram's ability to upload 15-second video and the possibilities are practically endless. This helps create brand loyalty in a retail world where brands are constantly trying to find a competitive edge.

Simply being on the major social networks is not enough. Consumers are now shopping smarter but still want to have fun doing it. So... back to the original question: HOW DO YOU engage with your customers on social media?

Test: To prove the theory that social media increases sales, pass along the links to these free downloadable retail guides on every social outlet across the interwebs. We'll let you know if our sales increase. Yes, that was very Jedi, we know.


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Topics: Retail, General Manager

Written by Brandon Weaver