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Social Media for Retail: The Right Channel to Reach the Right Market


retail, social, shoppertrak, in-store analyticsWith Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter leading the pack, businesses may feel compelled to have a presence on multiple social media platforms. Who can blame them when it was recently revealed that 4 in 10 social media users made an online or in-store purchase after sharing or favoriting an item on these channels.

Although there’s no question that being an active presence on social media networks can help procure sales, is there an optimal number of channels to be effective in doing so? Should retailers engage and have conversations with as many customers as possible across as many platforms as they can effectively manage?

According to BI Intelligence, the problem with multiple social media platforms for some companies is the “one-size-fits-all” mentality. They expect a single communication message and format to achieve the same results across the board. However, each platform is not the same and carries different forms of content and methods of engagement. In fact, if there’s not a clear, concise plan as to how each targeted channel specifically contributes to the overall social media strategy, retailers could be wasting valuable resources on something that will see little return.

Instead, they suggest that businesses focus on a single platform, especially for those with limited resources. “Platform-centric” strategies enable retailers to tailor their messages more specifically, creatively, authentically, and efficiently to that platform’s particular culture. By becoming better at one network, retailers can then broaden their strategy to other platforms, especially by using them as a means to drive audiences to their main channel.

Of course, it’s essential that retailers choose the right platform where customers will notice their message and be more willing to engage. Many would assume that this would be Facebook as it the one most likely to drive customers toward a purchase. However, Ed Keller and Brad Fay, authors of The Face-to-Face Book, performed an informal experiment based on a small sample size to see how many “friends” viewed their short message on Facebook. After 48 hours, only an average of 10 percent responded.

Although a larger testing sample is needed for more conclusive results, they saw that bigger social media numbers don’t necessarily translate to a bigger impact. As they explained, “When brands are planning social media campaigns and seek to calculate the potential impact, they should not look at the total audience size but base their calculations on the much smaller percentage of people who are actually going to see their message” (155). In other words, to choose the best platform, go where your target audience hangs out, not where the masses do.

In order to have a compelling social media strategy whether on one platform or several, it’s essential for retailers to understand how successfully they are engaging customers and prospects. ShopperTrak provides intelligent business metrics through its people counting technology that helps optimize marketing strategies. Through our in-store analytics, we show retailers how to maximize those factors that best drive overall growth.


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