While driving through town earlier, I saw a sign for a local monogram shop and a banner that read “Find us on Facebook.” Although I don’t know the owners, I was very proud of them (and I might add that I am a fan of their Facebook page).
That really got me started thinking about the retail industry and social media. How can a local retail store or local service provider be successful with social media?
I must say that I have several friends who own retail stores and they can’t seem to understand how beneficial social media can be for them.
It seems to me that the problem is that as a retail business owner you are focused on closing the sale when someone walks into your store. Building a relationship with that person to get them to buy later is a secondary issue. Not that this is bad, it’s been done that way for a long time. I know, I grew up in my grandfather’s grocery store.
Can a retail store make sales on social media? Yes, but that shouldn’t be the main focus. Before we go any further, you might be wondering how a retail store can make a sale on social media – you could have a product page on your Facebook fan page that shows the items and has an order now button, you could tweet about new items and include a link to your website where they can order, you can post YouTube videos of your products with your website address at the bottom of the screen.
In Social Networks, Making the Sale Is Not the Main Objective
It’s important to understand that people (your potential customers) don’t join social networking sites to spend money. They are there to reconnect with old friends and family, make new ones, research products, and get recommendations from their friends and family.
They are not there to be sold and will quickly block or remove you if they feel that is your main goal.
So knowing this, how can a retail business benefit?
You need to focus on building a relationship! People need to get to know you, then they start to like you, then hopefully they’ll start to trust you, and at that point, once they trust you, they’ll buy from you. So they are known as qualified buyers. They have already decided that you are a good person to do business with.
Top 3 things to do or not to do with social media!
1. Add value to your life – You can do this by sharing valuable information. Not only about your products or services, but also things related to your industry. Let’s say, for example, that you own that monogram shop you were talking about; Maybe you can find articles or videos about babies, weddings, or back to school that would add value to the lives of your potential customers. Not necessarily about monograms, but if it was, it would be helpful.
2. Use social media to build your leading authority (expert) status – People prefer to buy from those they believe are experts in their field. How can you do this?
- You can blog and post your blog posts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and any of many other sites.
- You could make videos and post them on YouTube and then all the other sites.
- You could write a short book or ebook about your industry.
3. Don’t try to sell them: Do things to get your relationship off of social networking sites to sell.
- Offer them something free to opt into your email list. Yes, retail stores are required to have a mailing list.
- Publish your blog posts so they visit your website and, once there, check out your products and services.
- Create contests or challenges to get them to engage with you outside of social networking sites.
Social networking sites offer you, as a retail business owner, the ability to expand globally. The number of people in them at any given time is staggering. Do yourself a favor and pay attention to what’s going on in the world of social media.