Social Media Through The Eyes Of Retailers

Republished from Gift and Home Trade Association's April Newsletter Over the past few years I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to speak to retailers, primarily in the gift and home space. I’ve been asked several questions, heard many success stories and also frustrations when it comes to social media marketing. I’d like to share with you a glimpse inside of a retailer’s challenges when it comes to using these tools. As a manufacturer or rep agency, you might find that you can relate to one, or several of their challenges. If you’re a retailer, myself and the GHTA would love to hear if you have any additions to the following list. If so, please share them on the GHTA’s Facebook page or within the Linked In group.

I don’t have time. This is the most popular theme amongst retailers, and I truly think small businesses in general. Retailers are wearing almost all hats – marketing, buying, stocking, merchandising, training, hiring, firing, vacuuming and dusting. Most of these things need to be done every day for the store to run. However to keep the store open, they need to be marketing, which is often put on the back burner especially during a busy day or week.

One tip I give retailers is to plan and schedule. At the beginning of each month, take an hour and look at the holidays coming up, events in your community, merchandise coming in, etc. Then, plan your events; plan your sales and plan the content you’re going to put on your social media profiles. (Note: make sure your content is 80% general meaning it relates to your audience. Things like tips, trends, questions, quotes, awesome articles, community events and news, etc. 20% should be about your store, products, and staff.)

Pingraphy, schedule pinsNext, schedule it. I believe that if it is not scheduled, it won’t happen. So create your plan, and put it on the calendar! By doing this you can work backwards to make sure you have all the necessary items in place for each activity/sale/post/promotion. And, it won’t feel like it takes so much time because you’ve broken it into simple action items. You can go a step further and schedule your Facebook posts for the next week or month directly on Facebook, and schedule your Pinterest Pins using Pingraphy. This way, you’ll have content going out while you’re running the store.

I’m a dinosaur. This is my favorite statement and I hear it all the time. Every single market, show and conference I speak at, at least one person says this followed by, “I didn’t grow up with this technology. I don’t even know where to start or how to know if the person managing my accounts is doing a good job.”

I can understand how frustrating it might be to try to “get” social media, especially if you feel like it doesn’t come naturally to you either because of your age, your skill set or interests. Here are a few tips to help:

  • You’ll want to start using the sites that your audience uses. If you’re going to be marketing, you need to be sure there’s an audience to market to. Figure out if Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Yelp, YouTube, Foursquare, etc., is right for you. Most likely Facebook will be a good place to start because they have the most active users (over 1 billion a month).  Next, the best thing to do is to just start using it. Create a Facebook page, like other pages, post on your Timeline, upload some photos and just get a feel for the features.
  • After you’ve gotten familiar with how the sites work, go to a few seminars or webinars. There are tons of free educational events happening online and possibly in a location near you. It’s easier to learn from someone who has tested the sites and has been using these tools for years. Make sure the instructor has some proven results and success so you can learn how they did it. GHTA offers educational webinars sometimes covering topics like social media marketing, so be sure to check out First Friday’s which happen, you guessed it, on the first Friday of every month.
  • Finally, if you just don’t get technology, it’s a true weakness of yours and you have absolutely no desire to learn it or be on it, then I suggest you hire someone. There’s an awesome book called Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton (make sure you get the newest version). This book highlights how businesses tell people they need to work on their weaknesses to become a better worker, however what we really need to do is continue building upon our strengths. Why would you want to be average when you can be phenomenal?! So if technology and/or marketing are your weaknesses, hire someone who’s strong in these areas. (Note: I strongly recommend this book for anyone reading this newsletter – manufactures, retailers, rep agencies, etc.)

Click to Tweet It ---> Why be average when you can be phenomenal?! via @madametwit

*TIP* When hiring someone, find the person with the personality, passion and drive that have a marketing, communications, journalism and/or PR background. Make sure they know how to use social media for business, not just personally. Don’t just hire someone who is young. Just because they are on Facebook all day personally doesn’t mean they know how to use it to market a business and doesn’t mean they’ll be able to bring your tone and voice to the online world. Remember, authenticity is key when it comes to social media.

I can’t keep up. It seems like Facebook is changing every….single….day. It’s my job to stay on top of all the changes and I can find it overwhelming some days. I have no idea how retailers manage to stay abreast and I’ve noticed they typically don’t.

RiffraffI look at hundreds of Facebook pages a week and I see many missed opportunities to reach customers. I also find pages going against Facebook terms, or they just don’t follow best-practices to get the most out of their efforts. One way to stay current is to follow a few big brands and see how they use these sites to engage with their audience and promote their business. These brands have a social media team that is in-the-know on all the features and terms as it relates to these sites. A few I like to follow is Riffraff, Elle, Coca-Cola, Southwest Airlines and Etsy.

You can also follow the Crystal Media Facebook page to get updates about any changes these sites make. I’ll also help you understand how to get the most out of each change.  If you need more personalized help, please visit or email [email protected] to see how I can help you succeed in an ever-changing but highly effective market.