A recent article in eMarketer said many local business owners aren’t using social media as part of their marketing plan because they still don’t believe their customers can be found there. I disagree. It’s not that they’re not there; it’s more likely that you haven’t given them a real reason to connect with you. In fact, according to BIA/Kelsey and ConStat, 97 percent of internet users in the U.S. used online media to look for local products and services in the first quarter of 2010, and 90 percent used search engines.
Just looking at our locale, with over 130,000 people on Facebook within 25 miles of Green Bay, there’s no shortage of social media opportunity.
How the can a local retailer engage shoppers using social media to build buzz and drive sales? Let’s look at this through the lens of answering the first question that most business owners ask.
Why Should I Incent Social Media Use to Boost Loyalty?
- Incentives work. We know from decades of research that incentives work in retail. Social media tools like Foursquare, Facebook and even Google Reviews take incentives to the next level by turning every connected customer into a walking, talking, tweeting promoter. Social media actions based on incentives don’t just drive sales, they drive buzz and conversation with the friends of your connected customers.
- It’s transparent marketing. Quick… Pull out your keychain and count how many plastic loyalty cards you have and open your wallet and do the same. (I’m at 7 rewards cards.) Who sees that you use them? No one. Who sees your Facebook Likes, Foursquare check-ins and online reviews? Well, only all of your friends and some of your friends’ friends! Social loyalty programs are the next form of retail loyalty program. Punch cards will go the way of the phone book.
- It simplifies things. Using tools like Twitter and Foursquare and offering coupons on review sites like Google Places and Yelp require simple setup, minimal staff training and little (if any) change to your existing POS system. People print a coupon, become a friend on Facebook or show their mobile phone at check out.
- It makes you a natural part of the “shop local” movement. Tools like Foursqare can show “deals nearby” when a shopper checks in at your location. Imagine the power of seeing that there are deals in nearly every store on Broadway or at Bay Park Square. Think of the power of that this form of “collaborative marketing” puts in the hands of your customer.
- It’s tailor-made for small retailers. This adds to items #2 and #3 above in that social media and local Internet review sites are tailor-made for small businesses without massive resources to implement things like reward points credit cards and national sales. You can change as often as you like, which is good because it keeps your audience interested, engaged and sharing, and stops with a click of a button.
- The brand is in your hand. What’s in your pants? Really, check your pockets. Keys, wallet, cell phone… Just what I suspected. We never leave home without our cell phones. Making loyalty cards for key chains is usually reserved for large grocery chains and the like. You can
- It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Social media is dynamic, interactive and growing every day. The power of local social media marketing is limited only by your imagination and how fast you can type. A sale lasts a limited time, but a devoted fan on Facebook, follower on Twitter or newsletter subscriber is in it for the long haul and open to your next great promotion idea whenever it strikes you!
Moving into social media now will help you compete and win in this holiday season and for many seasons to come. Sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option for local retailers. Start your social media efforts now to benefit from the cumulative effects that only get better with time and increase the return on your investment each and every month.