What is Social Retail and why is everybody talking about it?
Social retail is the practice of using social media to engage with customers and sell across both physical and digital channels simultaneously. By highlighting social media in the retail environment, brands give customers an opportunity to see real customers with their products, not just models in pictures on the wall.
It combines traditional retail practices with the power of social media platforms to create a more interactive and personalized shopping experience for customers. Social retail combines various strategies and technologies that enable retailers to engage with their target audience, build brand awareness, and drive sales.
How does social retail affect retail businesses?
Think about it this way: when was the last time you stayed at a hotel where you didn’t read a review first?
Right now we’re undergoing one of the most significant changes inside of the retail industry: For the first time in history brands are really truly driven by people talking to each other, sharing ideas, reviews and experiences.
Shopping has become social thing and technology has enabled shoppers to communicate with each other way more easily and in real-time, which means leading brands are adapting and changing the way that they actually communicate with shoppers.
Retailers have the chance to capitalize financially on something that many are talking about, but few are doing right. Shopping has become a social experience, and it’s important for companies to use social media to offer “social proof” that the business is credible and desirable in addition to officially-produced advertising content.Borja Sanfeliu, co-founder and CEO of Loyal Guru
Why is social retail important for enterprise retailers?
Social retail allows food and fashion retailers to connect directly with their customers on social media platforms.
They can engage in real-time conversations, respond to inquiries, and provide personalized recommendations, creating a stronger relationship with their audience. This increased engagement often leads to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Common myths associated with social retail
By dispelling these myths, retailers can better understand the true potential of social retail and develop strategies that align with their specific business goals and target audience.
Social Retail is only for online retailers.
Social media doesn’t have to be used just to engage with online customers. Customers who visit your physical retail store can view customer-curated social media content displayed on social walls. Those customers can also easily share experiences from your storefront with user-generated content that’s automatically shared.
While online retailers have naturally embraced social retail, traditional brick-and-mortar stores can also leverage social media platforms to drive foot traffic, build brand awareness, and engage with customers. Social retail strategies can be adapted to suit both online and offline retail environments.Javier Fernández, co-founder and CTO of Loyal Guru
Social retail is not solely focused on making direct sales.
While driving sales is an important aspect, social retail is also about building brand loyalty, creating a community, and providing an enhanced customer experience. By engaging with customers, sharing valuable content, and fostering meaningful interactions, retailers can establish long-term relationships with their audience.
Social Retail is only for younger audiences.
While younger demographics are certainly active on social media, the user base of social platforms spans across various age groups. Retailers can effectively target and engage with audiences of different age ranges by understanding their preferences, behaviors, and platform usage.
Social Retail is expensive.
While some advanced features and advertising options may involve costs, there are numerous organic and cost-effective strategies to leverage social media for retail purposes. Consistent and authentic content, engaging with customers, and fostering user-generated content can be achieved with minimal financial resources.
How to influence the customer journey through social retail marketing?
Social retail encourages customers to create and share content related to the brand or products. This user-generated content, such as reviews, photos, and videos, serves as authentic social proof and can influence potential customers’ purchasing decisions.
Retailers can also leverage this content to showcase their products in real-life settings and foster a sense of community around their brand.
Social media influencers often have dedicated and engaged followings, and their endorsements and product recommendations can significantly impact consumer purchasing decisions.
By partnering with influencers, food and fashion retailers can leverage their reach and credibility to promote their products and increase brand visibility.
Segmentation and personalization:
Social media platforms provide extensive data about users’ interests, demographics, and behaviors.
By leveraging this data, retailers can deliver personalized marketing campaigns and targeted advertisements to reach their ideal customers. This enables food and fashion retailers to tailor their messaging, offers, and product recommendations to specific customer segments, leading to higher conversion rates and sales.
Social retail blurs the lines between social media and e-commerce, making it easier for customers to discover, browse, and purchase products without leaving their preferred social platforms.
Features like “Shop Now” buttons, product tagging in posts, and shoppable posts streamline the purchasing process and reduce friction. As a result, retailers see increased sales and conversion rates for retailers.
Data and analytics:
Social retail generates valuable data and insights about customer preferences, behaviors, and trends.
Retailers can leverage this data to gain a deeper understanding of their target audience, optimize their marketing strategies, and make data-driven decisions. In turn, this helps to improve their product offerings, inventory management, and customer experience.
Real-life examples of enterprise retailers successfully implementing social retail strategies:
These examples highlight how enterprise retailers can leverage social retail to build brand awareness, drive sales, and foster meaningful connections with their customers.
By embracing social media platforms and employing creative and personalized strategies, these retailers have integrated social retail into their overall marketing efforts.
Nike is known for its innovative approach. They have leveraged social media platforms like Instagram to create interactive and engaging campaigns. One notable example is their #AirMaxDay campaign, where they encouraged users to share photos and stories about their favorite Nike Air Max sneakers.
Nike curated the UGC and showcased it on their social media channels, effectively building a sense of community and generating buzz.
ASOS, an online fashion retailer, effectively curates their Instagram feed with user-generated content, showcasing customers wearing ASOS products.
The fashion brand also collaborates with influencers and encourages them to promote their products, often with unique discount codes. Their seamless integration of shopping tags and links in posts makes it easy for customers to shop directly from their Instagram feed.
By prioritizing customer satisfaction, Zappos has built a strong reputation and loyal customer base. The company focuses on delivering exceptional customer service through social media. They actively engage with customers, promptly addressing inquiries and resolving issues.
Zappos’ social media team goes beyond transactional interactions. They create genuine connections with their customers, often adding a touch of humor and personality.
Tips for successful Social Retail marketing: how to become a social retail PRO.
Create compelling and visually appealing profiles that reflect your brand identity.
Establish a presence on relevant social media platforms where your target audience is active. Regularly post engaging content, such as product showcases, behind-the-scenes peeks, customer testimonials, and lifestyle images, to keep your audience interested and connected.
Encourage User-Generated Content:
Encourage your customers to share their experiences with your products by creating branded hashtags, running photo contests, or featuring customer reviews and testimonials. User-generated content serves as social proof and can inspire others to make purchases. Reward and acknowledge customers who contribute to user-generated content to foster a sense of community and loyalty.
Leverage Influencer marketing:
Collaborate with influencers who align with your brand values and have a dedicated following in your target market. Partner with them to promote your products through sponsored posts, reviews, giveaways, or influencer takeovers. Their recommendations and endorsements can significantly influence their followers’ purchasing decisions.
Implement shoppable features:
Take advantage of social media platforms’ shoppable features, such as Instagram’s shoppable posts or Facebook’s marketplace, to enable seamless purchasing experiences. Make sure your product images are high-quality, accompanied by accurate descriptions and pricing information. Simplify the buying process by incorporating direct links to your e-commerce website or integrating a shopping cart feature within the social platform itself.
Run targeted ad campaigns:
Utilize the advanced targeting options available on social media platforms to reach specific customer segments. Define your target audience based on demographics, interests, behaviors, and previous purchase history. Create compelling ad campaigns with clear calls-to-action that direct users to your online store. Continuously monitor and optimize your ad performance to maximize conversion rates and return on investment.
Offer exclusive coupons, promos and discounts:
Reward your social media followers with exclusive discounts, flash sales, or limited-time offers. Make them feel special and valued by providing unique promotions that are only accessible through your social media channels. This creates a sense of urgency and can drive immediate sales.
When implementing a social retail strategy, enterprise retailers should be aware of and avoid these common mistakes:
Neglecting to define clear goals and KPIs:
Without clear goals and objectives, it’s challenging to measure the success of a social retail strategy.
Retailers should establish specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. Whether it’s increasing brand awareness, driving sales, or improving customer engagement, having well-defined objectives ensures focus and enables effective measurement of results.
Overlooking the importance of audience research:
Retailers should conduct thorough research to identify the demographics, preferences, behaviors, and social media habits of their target customers. Without this knowledge and understanding of customers, it becomes difficult to tailor content, choose the right platforms, and engage with the audience effectively.
Failing to tailor content for each social media platform:
Each social media platform has its own unique characteristics, user demographics, and content formats.
It’s important to adapt the content strategy to fit the specific platform’s requirements. Posting the same content across all platforms without customization can lead to poor engagement and ineffective communication with the audience.
Ignoring or delaying conversations:
Social media platforms provide an opportunity for direct communication with customers, also called conversational commerce. Retailers should prioritize timely and personalized responses, demonstrating attentiveness and care for customer concerns.
Lack of integration with offline efforts:
A social retail strategy should be integrated with offline efforts to create a seamless and consistent brand experience. Neglecting the offline aspect, such as in-store promotions, events, or customer service, can create a disjointed customer journey. A holistic approach that aligns online and offline initiatives reinforces the brand image and enhances the overall customer experience.
Lack of consistency and frequency:
Retailers should establish a consistent posting schedule and maintain regular interactions with their audience. Consistency helps build brand presence, fosters customer loyalty, and keeps the brand top-of-mind for customers.
Overlooking analytics and performance tracking:
Tracking and analyzing the performance of social retail efforts is essential for optimizing strategies and making data-driven decisions. Retailers should regularly monitor key metrics, such as engagement rates, click-through rates, conversions, and sales attributed to social media. Failing to analyze data can result in missed opportunities for improvement and hinder the effectiveness of the social retail strategy.
Not Testing and Adapting:
Social retail is an evolving field, and what works today may not work tomorrow. Retailers should continuously test different strategies, content formats, and promotional campaigns to understand what resonates best with their audience. Regular evaluation and adaptation based on insights and feedback ensure that the social retail strategy remains effective and relevant.
In summary, social retail provides enterprise food and fashion retailers with a unique opportunity to connect with customers, increase brand visibility, drive sales, and gather valuable insights.
By embracing social media and integrating it into their retail strategies, these retailers can stay relevant in a digitally-driven world and meet the evolving expectations of their customers.
In essence, here are the steps to transition from the traditional marketing to innovative, conversational social retail:
- Fulfill consumers’ preference for convenience, lifestyle, peace of mind, and freedom.
- Help consumers discover products and service they don’t know exist.
- Develop a 2-way relationship that is not just about selling, but about building trust and relevance.
- Offer consumers value and purpose, and they will happily allow you to use their data for a more personalized customer experience.
- Invest in new digital channels and technology so consumers can control what, where, when, and how they receive information and promotions.
If you’re a retailer and you’d like to talk about any of the customer engagement strategies outlined in this article in more detail, then get in touch with our team – we’ll be happy to show you examples or talk through your brand’s unique challenges.