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What Social Media Means for Retailers – On Line and Off

Let’s face it, or should we say Facebook it – nowadays no matter what your business is, social media is an integral part of your business strategy – or should be. The result of all this liking and Twittering is of course that brands and their retailers not only have to compete for popularity in their stores – but also on the web.

There are five key social networks available to businesses – namely Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and the newcomer on the social media landscape, Pinterest. So, who are the major social media success stories when it comes to retailers, which networks are they using and most importantly, why are they successful?

The number one retailer on Facebook is Victoria’s Secret which boasts 18.5 million fans. They are closely followed by US retail giant Walmart with about 15 million. Of the top 250 internet retailers, 97% of these are on Facebook.

‘If we look at a brand like Victoria’s Secret there is bound to be a high level of appeal across both sexes and all demographics,’ Brownstone’s Dave Jabbie explains. ‘Facebook continues to dominate social media and Victoria’s Secret lends itself to likes and shares. Even in tough economic times lingerie is a feel-good item and Victoria’s Secret understand their audience. You’ve only got to check their Facebook page to see that.’

When we look at Twitter, it’s another US retail brand – Major League Baseball which dominates with 1.9 million followers. It’s also the brand leader on Google+, boasting more than 600,000 followers. Retail channels on YouTube do not show numbers as large as the other social platforms, but Nike boasts the most subscribers with more than 200,000. Pinterest is still relatively new to the social media game, and it may be a format which is better suited to niche and specialist retailers. So far Nordstrom dominates the Pinterest landscape with more than 14,000 followers.

‘The interesting thing about retailers on social media is that certain industries dominate on each platform,’ Dave Jabbie reveals. ‘From the stats we know that apparel and accessories brands average 100,000 followers on Twitter yet computer and electronic retailers average only about 60,000. Yet – computers and electronics retailers dominate on YouTube.’

‘If you’re a retailer thinking about how best to utilise social media then what you have to bear in mind is that not all the platforms may be suitable. This is where an agency adept in social media strategy can help by directing you towards the ones that are – thus saving time and resources in the long term.’

Of course, successful social media for any business requires more than just choosing the right platform(s) to use. ‘For retailers it boils down to two things,’ Jabbie believes. ‘First, understand your audience or customer base. Second, think of your social media as an extension to your retail space – be that space virtual or the shop floor. When a customer enters that space you want them to have a good experience. Even if they don’t buy on this visit – if they enjoy the experience they will return to buy on another.

‘The same rules apply to social media. If you give them an experience they enjoy they will like you and keep re-visiting. Keep your posts engaging and above all – upbeat. The simple fact is that more posts get shared by users that put a smile on their faces than those that don’t. Showcase your good news –  product launch, special offers, sale and above all, invite people to become engaged with your brand – special offers for subscribers and people that share or like you may sound obvious but often it’s the obvious that gets overlooked. The fact is these things work.’

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