Best Social Media Applications for the Retail Industry
There are many places online where you can develop a social media presence for your retail establishment. Engaging in social media can build your brand; showcase unique aspects of your business; promote sales, specials and discounts; and even feature satisfied customers along with their ratings or reviews.
A Facebook Page provides retail businesses with a professional presence versus a Facebook profile that is exclusively for individuals. In fact, Facebook rules specifically state that you cannot use your personal profile for commercial gain.
Start your company Facebook Page by selecting from a number of categories under Local Business such as automotive, cafe, event planning, health and beauty, lodging, restaurant, or store. Create Offers on your Facebook Page or advertise using their targeted ads to expand your reach and build your audience.
Share content from your Page to your personal profile to tap into your actual Facebook friends. You can also upload your email list to Facebook and invite others to like your Page via email invitations.
Twitter can be another useful tool for building your retail brand; however, it often requires more frequent posting than Facebook to be effective. Use Twitter primarily as a place to search for and monitor what is being said about your and your competitors’ businesses.
Follow people on Twitter who appear to be an ideal customer or who have mentioned your business in a positive light. If you find negative comments about your business on Twitter, use them as opportunities to address those issues and provide stellar customer service.
Google offers Google+ My Business Pages for free, similar to Facebook’s methodology. Setting up a page also can give you a huge boost on Google’s main search engine. Claim your location and improve how your business ranks in Google searches, which include Google Maps.
Given the popularity and ubiquity of smartphones, online directories and review sites such as Yelp and Foursquare let people review and rate businesses they frequent right on the spot. These social, mobile networks are also useful tools for retail establishments. Both services let you set up your business presence and offer incentives to drive foot traffic. You can also tie in promotions to "check-ins,” so when customers use these services, they get rewards.
Both images and video can play an important part in branding and promoting a retail business. Two top choices for hosting and sharing photos, Instagram and Pinterest although also accommodate video. Pinterest in particular has been touted as an ideal place to feature products and drive sales. Flickr is another option, though they do charge a small annual fee to host videos. YouTube is hands-down the top place for video posts, particularly with its large audience and free, easy-to-use editing tools.
If you are advertising through Google, you can promote your YouTube videos, since Google owns YouTube.
Some retail businesses use of QR Codes, the 2-dimensional symbols that are similar to bar codes. Customers scan these codes using a smartphone app called a QR Code Reader. QR Codes can lead customers and prospective customers to your website, to your social networks, to a map of your location or even to a coupon or special offer they can redeem at checkout. QR codes can be placed on mailers, Point of Sale signage, posters, in window displays, on packaging and in any other place where a customer can scan them to access more information.
Shift your thinking about how you will get more people to your retail establishment through online communications and participation. Even as you use social networks and tools, keep building up your email list. Email is still an effective way to reach your customers and prospective customers directly. Today's consumer expects more interaction and much more immediate responses. You need to be available online to accommodate the new ways they communicate.