Social media such as social networking websites and internet forums offer the most strategically important opportunity in digital marketing.
It is cost efficient and has the potential to transform how retailers interact with customers. There are some key steps in how to leverage this medium.
First, find your ‘advocates’. That is, customers who regularly purchase from your site and recommend your products to others. Look at where they congregate online - think specialist interest forums - and engage with them. If you interact on a social networking site, such as Facebook or Twitter, for commercial benefit, ensure you add value to the community, or prepare for a hostile reception.
Make your advocates feel special by giving discounts and letting them know about new product launches first.
Create your website to be a platform for conversations, so customers talk about your products on site, through a blog or customer services platform. When you respond to comments and solve issues it shows that you are listening to your customers.
The success of a social media strategy can be measured in several ways. Sales growth and customer retention are usually a retailer’s main objectives, but also consider whether more people are visiting your website, and if they are staying there for longer. There are tools with which you can monitor and measure social media alongside existing analytics packages.
Social media represents a major opportunity to harness a new, incredibly efficient sales channel. From a strategic point of view it allows you to converse with the very people who make your business thrive - customers.
- Luke Regan is head of social media at digital marketing agency Latitude Group