The Best Social Media Channels For Your Store

by Liz Kelley

Social MediaIn today’s competitive retail environment, there is no time to waste on marketing that won’t help raise awareness, increase sales and grow your business. The average business owner spends 20 hours each week on marketing, and the channels to invest in are endless. It’s important to make every hour spent impactful.

Not every social network will be right for your needs, so you need to determine what return you’ll get for building a presence on each. Here are five points to consider when you’re creating a social media marketing strategy.

Is the network able to work well with your store?
Does it offer what you need to consider it successful?

With so many social networks at your disposal, it’s crucial that the one(s) you select can deliver on your expectations. Are you interested in putting paid advertising to work in addition to the daily content you post? Some networks do not yet have advertising options, while others can be very expensive. Industry figures state that monthly advertising on Instagram can approach many thousands of dollars, which may not make financial sense for a smaller brand. On the other hand, advertising on Twitter and Facebook can be very cost conscious; for Facebook, the ad spend starts at $1 per day, and can be completely customizable based on your budget.

Additionally, metrics can and should play a huge role in your consideration process. If you and your team are spending time and advertising money to build your store presence, make sure the network can share numbers on how the work is building your business. The goal is to help your community grow, not just post links and hope for an increase.

When it comes to the audience, ask “why?” not “how many?”

Why is the network’s audience there? What are they hoping to get out of their time? If you’re starting a retail store presence on Twitter, for instance, you need to share information in short bites. Sometimes, you’ll want to include a call to action (CTA), but most of the time, your store’s Twitter presence is an effort to create and/or raise awareness of your business. Twitter is often a place for thought leadership rather than selling.

Similarly, if you’re building an audience on Instagram, provide them with images of beautiful moments, rather just attempting to sell products. This will build your audience much quicker, generating loyalty based on your curation skills and lifestyle. That will ultimately lead to sales, much like it has for other companies.

Also, take time to observe the audience. What are they doing and how are they behaving? Observe the user’s engagement, take the time to listen and react, and then test by launching a pilot tweet, Instagram post or engagement on another platform. What works for one network isn’t going to work across the board. Customize per channel, and share things that your customers cannot get anywhere else.

Do your customers use it?

This sounds like an obvious question, but it can be easy to overlook. With so many new social networks available to business owners, it can be tempting to get caught up in the latest and greatest. But if your target demographic isn’t going to watch your Periscope stream, or read your tweets, it’s likely not the best use of your business’ time. Certain networks such as Snapchat serve the millennial audience well; in this case, the network could be the best use of your time if they are your target.

Can you leverage the network uniquely?

The general public is exhausted with information on social media channels. Why? Because the brands aren’t bringing value to their audiences and aren’t approaching social networks in only a way their business can serve.

So you need not add to the noise, but rather create something that your customers will want and look forward to seeing. Take advantage of your strengths. Do you have visual displays in your store? Then Instagram may be the best place for you. Does your store spark conversation? Use a Twitter account to host tweet chats or create meetups in your shop. Do you focus on sharing your personality? Then Snapchat or Vine could help you do that in small, digestible bits.

Does it work for your store?

When starting a new channel, do you or your team have the resources to maintain a presence and consistently create great content? If the answer to either question is no, then you should put those resources into something else. Asking for your audiences’ and potential customers’ time to view and engage with your posts is something you shouldn’t take lightly. Every moment you ask of their time should create a “wow” moment. If you’re not approaching your content with the hopes of eliciting a reaction from your audience, then why post?

Once you’ve determined a network is a fit for your business, test various marketing angles including brand awareness, a soft CTA (i.e. “visit the site,” “check out our blog”), a firm CTA (i.e “signup,” “download content”), and a hard CTA (i.e. “purchase,” “download coupon,” “ask for call”) to see what resonates best. Direct response is great, but using social media well is really about continuing to build your brand awareness and customer loyalty.