Social media marketing isn’t a new concept. For years, brands have been using social networks to broadcast updates, engage with users, and even offer customer support—but are these actions enough to stay competitive? The short answer is no.
Social networks and users are rapidly evolving, and while posting regular updates and responding to comments are still considered best practices, there are plenty of other things that retailers can do to leverage social media and use it to not just connect with users, but to actually increase their revenues.
1. Instagram Monetisation
Instagram is starting to become so much more than just an image-based social network. As Fiorletta points out, many retailers have realised that Instagram can also be used as a platform to sell.
“Charlotte Russe is a great example of a retailer that’s using Instagram to drive traffic to their ecommerce site,” she says. The apparel retailer is using a solution called Like2Buy to allow users to purchase the items they see on the Charlotte Russe Instagram feed. “Like2Buy helped generate 13,000 clicks to their website in just six weeks.”
2. User-Generated Content (UGC)
While many retailers are already using user-generated content (i.e. reviews or testimonials) on their website and product pages, Fiorletta says that incorporating social media into their UGC strategies will not only help them connect better with customers, but can also increase their visibility in search.
“Twenty-five percent of search results return user-generated content from review sites, blogs and social media updates,” she adds, citing a study by Socialnomics.
She says that one way to encourage user-generated content on social media is to run contests. Take for example, Julep, a beauty e-Commerce retailer and service that sends monthly beauty boxes to Maven members. To boost engagement, gain more followers, and generate awareness for its products, Julep ran an Instagram contest encouraging users to follow them on the network, and tag friends for a chance to win a curated selection of beauty items.
3. New Social Networks
According to Fiorletta, new social networks such as Snapchat, Tumblr, and Vine are “winning the hearts of millennials.” That’s why retailers—especially those who want to reach shoppers between 18 and 29 years old—should explore these new networks.
Plenty of merchants have already started doing so. “Old Navy, for instance, is using Tumblr as the hub of their spring campaign, and are placing ads across the Yahoo network to share style tips and information from Emily Current and Meritt Elliott (celeb stylists and designers).”
4. Bloggers & Influencers
Bloggers and influencers can become powerful mouthpieces for brands, says Fiorletta, which is why retailers should find ways to tap into them to drive word of mouth and sales.
“A great example of a successful influencer campaign comes from Softlips, which used the power of social media to build awareness for its new product, the Softlips Cube.
“They developed a content strategy around the product and partnered with Influenster to bring the Cube to more than 10,000 Millennials. Influenster required recipients to interact with brands on all social channels, as well as post photos and feedback on retailer websites.”
In addition to gaining more than 10,000 new followers across its social accounts, Fiorletta said that the campaign “helped Softlips secure secondary placements in many stores, including key placement in the front of Walmart. Sales are exceeding forecasts and are predicted to experience double-digit growth in 2015.”
5. Social and Store Integration
Social media and stores are becoming more connected, and this opens up plenty of opportunities for engagement and sales, says Fiorletta.
She cites an example from Nordstrom, which promotes its most-popular products on Pinterest using in-store signage. “Social also is a powerful outlet to promote in-store events,” she adds. “Rebecca Minkoff does this a lot on Instagram, since it’s the branded account as well as her own personal account. She is the brand’s key representative, after all. She shares details on her appearances and events that are taking place in stores worldwide.”
Vend’s Retail Success Webinar will take place on April 22, at 8:00 am NZ Time. Co-hosted by Alicia Fiorletta, the webinar will cover social media strategies and how to use various social networks to generate engagement and, most importantly, increase your bottom line.