It’s no secret that today’s society is addicted to social media. With the average person spending nearly two hours per day on social channels, there’s an immense opportunity for retailers to increase sales and brand awareness. Below is a list of 10 social media marketing best practices to consider and implement as you continue to invest in additional ad spend and resources for your social strategy.1. Keep the human element alive.
Let’s face it - we all crave human interaction. When you have a problem, question, or even just a comment, you want to feel heard. Yes, chatbots can be useful in certain circumstances, but only 9% of consumers look positively on chatbots in the shopping experience. Customers want to communicate with a real person. They want to know the retailers they’re loyal to genuinely care about their satisfaction, and if they’re frustrated, empathize.
Brands should be leveraging social media to provide this connection, not replace it. Customers will remember how you make them feel. In fact, 67% of consumers are willing to switch brands because of a poor service. Always respond to customer feedback - negative or positive - with sincerity. If there’s a problem with a purchase, offer to make it right. Not only will the individual feel valued, potential customers will also see that their satisfaction is your priority.
- Don’t ignore your customers on social channels.
As a millennial consumer, I’ll admit that when brands interact with my Instagram stories or promptly respond to a Facebook comment, it goes SUCH A LONG WAY. Few customers will stay loyal to a brand if it feels like a one-way relationship. According to Sprout Social, roughly 30% of social media users go to a competitor if you ignore their message. And with 34.5% of people saying social media is their top choice for communicating with a brand’s customer service, retailers can’t afford not to respond. My experiences have earned loyalty to brands such as APL, IT Cosmetics, First Aid Beauty, Tatcha, Enlightened, b. good, Glossier and Greats Brand partially because they’ve interacted with me after mentioning them on various social channels. As little people, we want to feel the love, too.
- Empower your employees and top customers to be “brand ambassadors.”
When I walk into a store and an employee is stoked about the products they sell, I almost* always get excited, too. While fashion influencers with millions of followers have a major impact on their subscribers’ purchases, micro-influencers or “brand ambassadors” are just as important for your brand. Whether you’re launching an app, running a contest, or just letting your customers know about something cool that your brand is up to, there’s no better way to promote it than through your most loyal customers. A great example of this is Lululemon’s Ambassador program. Instead of paying for traditional endorsements, the brand has built an extensive ambassador program of local influencers (both elite athletes and yoga instructors) from across the country. This 1500+ person team of enthusiastic ambassadors provides feedback on product and partners with the brand on social impact programs. A platform of this nature not only fosters authentic relationships but also allows educators (store employees) and guests (consumers) to promote brand loyalty and a sense of community.
*No, I’m not referring to that salesperson shouting at me from their mall kiosk.
- Publish fresh content on a daily basis.
Whether you’re creating brand-specific content or encouraging customers to share user generated content (UGC), no one likes to see social media posts that are strictly product-related 100% of the time. Adweek reported that 46% of people will unfollow brands because they post too many promotional items. I’m selective about the brands I follow on social media; if I decide to follow your brand, I’m really interested in your voice, not just the products. In order to avoid being overly promotional or salesy, try mixing up your posts with topics regarding company culture, events, trends, collaborations, collections “coming soon” and positive quotes.
In addition, encourage users to submit their own content via Instagram, Facebook or your app. Utilizing and promoting UGC will build trust in your brand throughout your customer community as well as reflect your brand’s diversity.
- Don’t bombard your customers with emails and push notifications.
Establishing an effective outreach frequency can be tough but it is most definitely possible. If I’ve opted-in for push notifications or subscribed to your emails, I want to stay in the know. If something on my wishlist goes on sale or your new fall collection is launching, tell me. But, there has to be a balance. If you plan on alerting me 3-5 times per day, you’re guaranteed to turn me off, and I’m not alone. Sprout Social reports that posting too often accounts for 34.9% of all unfollows on social media. On the flip side, if brands are too quiet, there’s an 18% chance that your audience may unfollow your page.
- Test a wide range of new marketing campaigns.
Don’t be afraid to do something different! If you plan on running a new marketing campaign, ensure that it’s well-executed in app, on your site and if applicable, in-store. Reaching every channel is so, so important. A couple of our favorite marketing campaigns include:
- Tillys – Just last year, Tillys teamed up with GPShopper to relaunch its mobile app. The buzz surrounding the relaunch was massive thanks to a scavenger hunt that utilized augmented reality to encourage consumers to engage with the brand. The retailer joined forces with YouTube influencer Shonduras on a back-to-school campaign. This marketing campaign not only boosted in-store traffic and social media but provided just how important it is to think outside of the box.
- Aerie – Another retail marketing campaign that we’re loving is Aerie’s #AerieReal movement (totaling 127K posts on Instagram). Though other retailers have been slowly moving to similar principles, Aerie’s campaign is all about girl power, body positivity and no photo retouching. While this approach was bold and quite risky, its paid off big time for the retailer. In an industry filled with airbrushing and unrealistic body standards, it’s nice to see a lifestyle brand spreading the message of self-love. We hope to see this become a more common practice within the fashion world – especially for the future generations of young women that come in all shapes and sizes.
- Consider paid advertising on Instagram and Facebook.
Just this week, I’ve learned about three new brands through sponsored Instagram ads on my feed: Calpak, Summersalt and Tee Ink. In order to get the most value for your money, you must fine tune your target audience. Once you’ve established your demographic, you’ll have to decide if you are looking to acquire new followers or reengage those who are already familiar with your brand. While I don’t suggest spending your entire marketing budget on paid advertising, if done correctly, it’s a great way to drive more traffic to a product page, gain more likes and increase conversions.
- Ensure that your photography is highly visual and engaging.
Is your content shoppable? If not, you’re leaving dollars on the table. If it is, you must ensure that everything you post is visually pleasing and captivating. According to an MIT study, the human brain can correctly identify images in as little as 100 milliseconds, which means to capture and keep consumers’ attention, authentic high-quality images sell. Here are a few tips:
- Please, please, please shoot your products from multiple angles and on many different body types. When brands use the same size model for every article of clothing, only that size customer will be inspired to try it out. Similarly, if you only offer one image of your product, most shoppers will assume that it fits poorly from other viewpoints.
- As previously mentioned, repost high-quality content and images from both influencers and real customers – the audience that actually pays for your merchandise. As great as studio-created photography can be in certain scenarios, prospective customers want to feel like they can connect with your brand.
- Keep your filters and color schemes consistent. This helps your followers instantly recognize your brand when it appears on their social feeds.
9. Keep your brand’s voice consistent.
While it may be easy to define a social media personality for a few weeks, or maybe even a few months, keeping things consistent long-term is often challenging. Maintaining the same voice and level of customer service reinforces reliability, loyalty and trust. In my experience, two brands that do this particularly well are Zappos and CustomInk. Both brands are consistent with their mission and target customer and they, hands-down, offer the best customer service I’ve ever received. If I order from either company, I know they will always put my satisfaction first. If there’s a problem with my order or I’m simply not happy with an item, they will make things right. This type of consistency is the key to success and I applaud both organizations for staying true to their brand’s message.
Research Your Competitors.
No matter which products you sell, you will always have competition. Remember, competition can be a positive thing. Why? Because your competitors solidify that there’s a need for your goods or service. Additionally, competition can often inspire new ideas for your brand. See something that’s working for them? Implement something similar while making it your own. I believe, CoSchedule said it best: Always start out by making a list of your top social media competitors. Once you’ve completed your list, review their past 6 months of content and focus on the following activity:
- Which types of content are they sharing? What worked? What didn’t?
- Do they get more engagement on some days versus others?
- How does their imagery, voice and tone compare to your own?
- Do they share UGC? If so, how often?
- How often do they post?
- Who are their top brand advocates? Should you work with similar influencers or different?
At the end of the day, social media has presented a new opportunity to connect and speak directly with your biggest fans. In a lot of ways, it’s helped level the playing field. Whether you can or cannot afford to advertise on TV, radio or in print, every brand can build a following on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or other social outlets. Where the rubber meets the road is in how genuine your brand appears.
Success isn’t a straight line. Try things out and see how your fans react. They’re not going to love every post nor every comment, but if you remain true to what your brand stands for, they’ll likely stick around to see many more.