I’ve had the opportunity to speak about social media marketing to thousands of independent retailers across the country over the past few years. The biggest excuse I hear as to why retailers don’t use social media to market their stores (next to not having enough time) is, “I just don’t understand it!” Some might argue that this statement is not an excuse but rather a fact; however, I consider it an excuse based on the context it’s used in. Retailers say, “I don’t understand it,” “I don’t care” and, my favorite, “I’m a dinosaur, I just don’t get it!” But the root of those statements is that they don’t want to learn it, which becomes one of the most common excuses I hear. Most retailers I talk to are very fearful of social media sites both personally and professionally. There’s always fear of the unknown and these retailers typically didn’t grow up with this technology. It is a completely new space for them. In the beginning, like most businesses I’ve worked with, there needs to be some hand-holding, but comfort comes with doing and one of the best things retailers can do to become familiar and comfortable with these tools is to simply use them.
In January I hosted a retailer panel at AmericasMart where three successful retailers shared how they market their stores, and what kind of response they’ve had from their tactics. Everyone on the panel was using Facebook. A retailer in the audience said, “I just don’t understand it,” and the retailers on the panel went crazy saying, “I didn’t know it either, but I just starting using it, and it became SO easy!”
The woman in the audience then said, “Well once you understand how to use it, then you’re spending tons of time on it every day. I don’t have that kind of time.” The panel went crazy again saying, “I don’t spend more than 5 minutes a day” and, “You’d be shocked, it really doesn’t take that much time, I promise!” They saw that retailers like them were easily using it, seeing a response, and were only using it 5 minutes a day!
Like I said before, the first step is to get over your fear or excuses and, in the words of Nike, just do it! It’s important to know what your goals are when using these sites—are they to announce new products when they arrive in your store, enhance customer service, create a platform for conversation, stay in touch daily, an outlet to promote events, sales and exclusive offers, a research tool to find out what your customers are buying or maybe a combination of it all? Once you know how you’re going to use these tools to market then you have a better idea of what to post and how often.
If you’re new to social media marketing and just don’t get it, I suggest attending a few online webinars or local seminars to learn how to effectively use these tools. If you attend any of the gift/home/furniture markets, most of them now offer educational breakouts with great speakers and great content. If you take the time to learn in the beginning to understand these social sites, you’ll save a lot of time in the future.