Articles for Retailers - by Kizer & Bender

Social Media Marketing

   by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender

We get questions from retailers every week about social media marketing. Some ask if the really have to do it, others ask which sites make the most sense for independent retailers.

The answer is yes, you have to use social media marketing to connect and engage with customers. We recommend that you focus on two to three social networking sites, you can always add more later if you think that makes sense for your store.

Today, you are being pushed by Omni consumers and their increasing demands. Omni consumers are omnipresent: they can shop anywhere, in-store and online, television and catalogs. They are redefining retailing as they go along. Here’s the point: Before a customer ever enters your store they have had the opportunity to examine your products and services, and have read reviews about you before deciding whether to visit you or not. It’s called a Zero Moment Of Truth (ZMOT).

As customers click around the internet looking for the best deal, and the best in-store experience, Zero Moments Of Truth allow customers to know more about you than you know about them. They choose where to shop based on ease, reliability, price, convenience, the store’s reputation, availability of product, and the ability to interact with you online and via mobile device. Convenience is a big criterion in the purchase decisions, too. Omnis are also big fans of social media networking.

So where should you be online? Right now, the big four to watch are Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest. Each can be used in different ways to grow your business and connect with consumers.

Facebook is mandatory. Regardless of what you hear, Facebook is still the number one social media site for people of all ages. In fact, a recent study found that 80 percent of consumers want to interact with the brands they like via Facebook – if they like shopping with you they expect you to be active on Facebook. It’s also a perfect advertising vehicle because you can zero in on exactly the kinds of consumers and markets you want to reach. Facebook ads are very affordable; plan on spending at least $1.00 a day on Facebook advertising. Probably more.

Within Facebook there are many areas to help you connect with followers. Facebook Live allows you to stream live broadcasts so followers can interact with you in real time. Plus, your live streams can be saved for use later in email blasts and on other social medias such as YouTube.

Facebook Groups gives you the opportunity to connect with an exclusive group of people to share a common interest – your product and your store. Managing a group takes work because you are required to throw out topics and monitor the group, but it’s worth it if you have the time. It won’t work if you don’t have the drive to keep it going.

Facebook Groups are like having a daily focus group with people who know and love your store. Use them to establish your expertise and collect feedback, to talk about product, techniques, and preferences. Use it to launch and/or test new programs, post polls, and ask open-ended questions. You’ll build better relationships with your core customers while spreading the word about your store. Bonus: Your members will tell their friends who will want to join too, so you’ll definitely increase your exposure.

Instagram – a free online photo and video sharing site – is another mandatory social media. On Instagram you can reach everyone from Baby Boomers to Generation Z. You can upload, edit, add a fun filter, and share photos and videos with your “Insta” followers, and on other social media sites. Instagram is owned by Facebook, so you can run an ad on Facebook and automatically share it on Instagram as well.

Instagram loves hashtags – use them to expand your audience. A hashtag – # – is a word or phrase that’s preceded by a hash or pound sign. It’s used to identify messages on a specific topic. For example, if you search #artsupplies you’ll get a list of posts that are related to art supplies, but you won’t get posts that simply include the words “art supplies” because the words are not preceded by a hashtag.

YouTube makes you a star – you should definitely have a YouTube channel. You’ve always wanted your own television show, right? Well, YouTube allows you to do exactly that. And it’s free.

Use your smart phone to shoot short videos on any number of topics your followers will enjoy. Post videos of your store’s latest adventures, use your channel to house helpful how-to videos, showcase industry experts who visit your store, take viewers to trade shows or other industry related events. Link your videos to your website, post them on social medias, and add them to email blasts. The latest statistics show email blasts that include a video have a 200-300% higher open rate.

YouTube is also great for recording customer testimonials, so the next time a customer gives you a compliment ask if you can record it to post online. This is important because a customer testimonial is 10 – 20 times more powerful than what you have to say about yourself!

Pinterest is an online bulletin board. It’s not necessarily a place we recommend that you utilize in the traditional social networking sense, but it can be extremely helpful in researching what people are talking about online.

People go to Pinterest to post photos of the things they like and want to keep for future reference. It’s the perfect online focus group! If you want to know what people are pinning about art supplies, simply type “art supplies” in the search box and you will receive page after page of ideas. We use Pinterest to keep up on what products and services customers are talking about.

Regardless of which social media sites you choose, the big thing to remember is that social networking requires you to post at least once a day, probably more. Don’t overwhelm yourself; choose two to three social medias and do them very well.

Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender are professional speakers, retail strategists, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business. Companies internationally depend upon them for timely advice on consumers and the changing retail market place. KIZER & BENDER’s observations are widely featured in national newspapers, national and international industry and consumer publications, and on radio and television programs across the U.S. You can learn more at