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3 ways retail brands can use social media

Every day, consumers turn to social media to discuss their everyday life, to talk about business, and to keep up with the world. With the age of the ‘death of the high street’ ringing in the ears of high street retailers, meeting and engaging your consumer online has never more crucial.

Thanks to social media, understanding your customer’s thoughts and reactions has never been easier – you just need to find them, and capture their interest – and perhaps, on occasion, their forgiving nature.

Here are 3 useful ways to get retailers started on social media:

1. To provide customer service

A recent study claimed that 53% of customers who ask a brand a question on Twitter expect a response within one hour, (with that percentage rising to 72% if it’s a complaint), with that in mind, Nike Supportsocial media customer service needs to be a priority for any retail brand, and a key component in their social media strategy.

As with all social media content, your responses to any customer queries need to be personal and social. Even if you can’t answer the query straight away, try to instil some confidence in your customer, by being quick and empathetic in your response. Let them know that you are doing what you can to solve any issue, or find an answer to their query – this will buy you some time as they now know that you have the matter in hand, making them feel valued. After all, you’re not only responding to the person who made the comment, but to many others that are also reading it.

Once you’ve got this mastered, you can think about proactive customer service. Social media allows brands to tackle service problems in a proactive, innovative new way – you can ‘listen’ to conversations going on around your brand; you can now seek out customers’ problems and fix them, before they have even picked up typed your twitter handle. Social media channels – twitter in particular – enable you to search for conversations around your products or brand, even with only indirect mentions.

A good move is to tell your customers what kind of response time they can expect, and make your customer service opening hours clear (we don’t all have the kind of 24/7 man-power that the big dogs at Nike do), put this in your Twitter bio, or Facebook ‘About’ page.

2. To chat

TopmanThe key feature that differentiates social media from traditional media is its facility for two way dialogue. You need your brand to have a personality. When defining your strategy, decide what tone you would like your brand to have, and stick with it. Social media is just that: social, so don’t do all the talking. In any conversation, whether it be face-to-face or via social media, the person you are speaking to is bound to switch off if you talk at them incessantly, without inviting them to join the conversation. This creates much more powerful engagement, as your customer feels involved and relevant.

3. To get involved in the bigger picture

We already know that using hashtags is a great way to connect yourself to conversations going on across Twitter and Facebook; watching and listening to conversations and trends going on across your industry. However, something we don’t always think of is using pre-existing hashtags. If you choose something which is relevant to your business or target audience, using pre-existing hashtags can really raise your profile and increase traffic to your social media platforms. If it makes sense for your business to jump on board, compose tweets that are on topic and compatible with that hashtag.

Remember when everyone’s excitement surrounding the release of the iPhone6plus quickly deflated, when we realised they were bending in our pockets? The world quickly grabbed their smartphones and the hashtag #bendgate began.

Both high-profile retailers and smaller retail companies jumped straight onto this hashtag, using it to their advantage. This hashtag quickly went viral, receiving thousands of retweets and favourites. The success of these tweets comes from their having jumped on the back of the existing hashtag #bendgate, which was already generating very high levels of engagement.

Here are some pretty quick-off-the-mark responses to Apple’s #bendgate debacle…

bendgate 2bendgate 1bendgate 3

Now, we’re not necessarily suggesting that you jump on board twitter trends and hashtags as boldly as Ford, Burton Snowboards and (especially) LG did. However, these examples display just how powerful trending topics and hashtags can be.

A great, yet more realistic example, comes from Ralph Lauren, who used celebrity mentions, and the trending hashtag #GoldenGlobes in their Facebook and Twitter content, when describing their dresses appearing on the red carpet.

gg ralph lauren

Have you had any social media successes when marketing your retail brand? Let us know in the comments below



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