How to make social media an effective channel for brand and store promotion
Over the past five years, social networks, from platforms for communicating with relatives and friends, for debates between politicians and journalists, have become a highly effective tool for shopping, or at least for exchanging information between retailers and consumers. Now, every self-respecting company selling clothes and shoes should be present on social networks, otherwise it risks going unnoticed by a large number of buyers. Social networks are the most important link between customers and retail brands. As follows from the report Epsilon Data Management LLC, the activity of retailers on social media is much stronger than their websites or search engines, affects the attraction of customers, creating their desire to try something new.
The aim of the Epsilon study was to find out what motivates shoppers to try new brands and products. The most significant factors were: the use of social media by retailers (29%), the use of social media by brands (28%), printed coupons (23%), daily transaction sites (22%) and friends' messages on social media (21%). Consumers can use the retailer’s site more often than social networks, applications, and even coupons, but in the end, the latter affect the purchase decision and the frequency of purchases more. Social media even influences what kind of stores a person visits and the amount of his unplanned purchases.
The top five digital tools include retailer posts on social networks and price comparison sites (for 35%), trading applications (34%), brand messages on social networks and reviews (for 33%), printed coupons (32%). But this does not mean at all that you need to make a “buy” button in social networks, its presence will be inappropriate, analysts say. The opportunity provided by social networks is not sales, but the data about which keywords and images are now in trend, bloggers believe. The retailer can receive this information from consumers on its own, being active in social networks.
The connection between social media investments, brand activity in them, and consumer purchases today is obvious. A large number of people nowadays make purchases precisely under the influence of communication with a particular brand on social networks. About a third of buyers, according to their admission, are subscribed to their favorite brands or stores on social networks. A little more than a quarter will find out on the networks about brands unknown to them or that interest them, or they will study brands by other people's reviews on them. Groups and communities live their lives, consumers leave comments there related to their experience in using products or brand, watch videos. It is important for consumers to interact and contact with the brand and its online subscribers, so the retailer must be aware that it will be necessary not only to be online, but to be active. These conclusions were made by experts from the international consulting company PwC, who conducted research on the preferences of customers in different countries.
In search of competitive prices
In order for the brand / store page to work effectively, the manufacturer / retailer needs to know what attracts customers. In the first place - profitable deals, promotions and sales (it is monetary gain - the first thing that attracts to your page). The following are: interest in offering a new product; the need to collect product information in social networks before making a purchase; recommendation of a friend or expert; promotional offer received by e-mail / as an SMS message; the opportunity to participate in competitions held in social networks; advertising (on television, in a newspaper, on a site); customer support service on social networks; store flyer or recommendation; desire to leave a bad or good review; interest in interacting with the brand and its online subscribers; the opportunity to learn about the social / environmental circumstances of the brand and leave your comments; brand representatives contacted a person through a social network; ability to influence product development / design. On the brand / store page, regular customers who are already shopping offline and those who just want to buy something like to hang out.
What will it respond to?
According to PwC, Russia 70% of respondents use social networks in the process of making purchases. This indicator is in the middle between developed (55%) and developing (89%) countries. According to Russian retailers, "the importance of social networks is growing every year and in the future they will become one of the main channels of information interaction with customers." But at the moment in Russia another type of communication prevails - the interaction between users. If in other countries people actively monitor information about their favorite brands and do not attach particular importance to reviews, then in our country everything is different: it is the study of reviews that is most popular. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the Russians as a whole are still in the process of choosing their favorite brand, which means that retailers have the opportunity to strengthen their brand by working more actively with reviews on social networks, involving customers in interaction with their company.
How to create a page on a social network
PwC experts believe that retailers have only one way to succeed in a new, highly competitive global environment - this is the introduction of innovations in the field of social networks. The retailer must take a conscious risk - try and introduce a new one, testing in practice everything that can work, experimenting, moving forward.
What risks may be associated with working with social media:
The main mistake that many retailers make is a one-time investment in social media or mobile technologies and that’s all. In the future, the innovation does not integrate into the global corporate strategy.
To avoid this and other errors, it is necessary to understand all the subtleties of various social platforms. Each has its own functions. So, social media platforms are ideal for creating or maintaining a brand, as they provide a platform for the formation of word of mouth and viral videos. Digital and on-screen advertising banners, for their part, keep buyers interested. Search platforms reflect “the intent of the buyer in pure form”, they are visited when they already have a clear desire to make a purchase: 56% of those who think about buying turn to search engines. A retailer who wants to increase his chances of making a purchase from him should invest in optimizing the search for information about himself in search engines. There is another model for the development of digital channels and presence in social networks - investing in increasing the brand value and, thus, increasing “direct traffic” - when customers go directly to the retailer’s online resource instead of searching for a product in a search engine. To increase the brand’s value in the eyes of your customers, you can arrange premiere screenings of future advertising, new collections, the main thing is to start a dialogue with customers, motivate them to maintain communication and launch word of mouth.
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