Social Media Essentials for Bricks and Mortar Retailers

SocialB Digital Marketing Blog Last modified: 09 Oct 2018 by Amy Hobson
Social Media

Get Involved Locally

Bricks and mortar retailers have an advantage over online retailers because they have the ability to really get involved with their customers on a local level and to use it as a way to engage with their audience.   Bricks and mortar stores rely on their local audience to keep coming back to them so getting involved in and talking about what’s happening with your customers locally makes real sense.  If you’ve got a local event that your audience are talking about why wouldn’t you want to talk about it as well?  Speak to your local authority or Business Improvement District (BID) if you have one to find out what events are happening and if it is something that you can get involved with.  Also look for other businesses who are local to you and collaborate with them to promote each other and your local area.  If customers start to see and know your local area as being lively with lots of good local businesses then they are more likely to visit.

Be Social

When they are social selling many businesses, both online and bricks and mortar stores, make the mistake of concentrating on the selling part rather than the social.   If all you do is sell your products or services then your customers and your potential customers will very quickly be turned off by your online content.  If a customer came into your bricks and mortar store you wouldn’t walk up to them and just give them the nearest available product to buy.  You would talk to them first to find out what they were looking for and then make helpful suggestions.   Social selling should be the same.  Ask your followers questions.  Get to know them by using your analytics to understand how they behave and what they are interested in.  Once you understand their interests can you get involved in the conversation?  Use social media to start conversations as well.  What can you share with your customers that will encourage you to engage with them?  What questions can you ask?  Social media can be a great tool to get involved with your customers so that when they need to buy they come to you.  And whilst ideally you want your customers to have actual conversations with you, social selling thrives on engagement so your audience liking, sharing, retweeting, pinning etc. are all important and are all part of your social media conversation with them.

Use The Right Tools

When you are using the right tools you can get more out of social media.  Business owners of bricks and mortar stores are often time poor (it’s hard work trying to do everything) and social media can be time-consuming.  If you are investing your time on social media then you want to make sure that you are getting the maximum out of it.  Choose the right platform for your customers.  You can have a really impressive Facebook profile and be really active but if your audience is hanging out on Instagram then it is a waste.  Analytics are available on every platform and are vital for you to understand what is and isn’t working for you and who your audience is.  When you understand who your audience is you can create content that you know will appeal to them which makes them more likely to engage with you.  If something that you do on social media works particularly well or has high engagement use analytics to try and understand why it was successful.   There are also lots of tools available to help you schedule and manage your social media.  Scheduling tools, in particular, will allow you to be present on social media without having to always be online 24/7.  You can also plan ahead using your quieter times to prepare content and schedule it for when you are likely to be busier with less time to devote to social media.  Use scheduling with caution.  If you only schedule your content it makes you very unresponsive and means you can miss what’s happening live that you could be involved in.  Scheduling tools should be a part of your strategy but you should also be responsive to what might be happening.

Be Helpful

As a bricks and mortar store, you can use the interactions that you have with your customers face to face and their behaviour to shape the content that you create.  What questions do you get asked most frequently?  Make a list and create content that answers those questions to establish your credibility and expertise.  If your customers struggle to make a decision when purchasing can you create a helpful gift guide or reasons why post that will help them to make that decision and to buy from you?  As a bricks and mortar retailer, you can show your audience why they should come to you by being helpful and showing them the different ways you can help them if they visit in person or get in touch and that it would be worth their while to do so.

Be You!

People still like to do business with people so it’s important that you are honest about who you are on social media. Your personality can and should shine through. Your personality online should match your personality online.  If your store is niche then you can be niche online as well.  You don’t have to appeal to everyone on social media but you do need to appeal to your audience. A smaller audience of engaged followers is much more valuable than a large audience of followers who aren’t engaged and aren’t really your customers.

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