Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Social Media for Business

August 4, 2009

facebook-wholefoods1

A new report by Inside Facebook discusses some best practices for retailers hoping to set up shop on the popular social networking site.

Some of the recommendations include letting users shop from within Facebook, including even the ability to share product information with friends.  Another suggestion is to have contests, giveaways and sweepstakes.

But what’s most interesting is the last suggestion: keep it simple with status updates.

Life is Good does. With simple status updates (much like the name of the brand itself), Life is Good elicits more pondering from its fan community. Their most recent update: “Whatever you are, be a good one.”

Expanding that to “conversation in general,” it seems that specific approach is the key between a social networking presence and a successful social networking presence.

One example from outside the industry is NASA, whose Twitter feed for the Mars Phoenix lander was a huge success.

Part of what helped NASA’s Twitter experiment rocket to such success was how personal it felt to the viewers. Throughout the mission, NASA actually took the time to respond to people’s questions and share in discoveries.

These ideas do translate to retail, of course. JetBlue is very conversational on its Twitter feed, offering travel tips and discounts. Dell became e-famous for offering exclusive discounts both through Twitter and Facebook. And Whole Foods suggests recipes, all through social networking.

What’s challenging, however, is that there is not one simple answer for any of these companies. Each seems to have taken some of these basic principles and applied them to their own brand to create interestingly different outcomes.

But each of the successful ones has the same strategy in the end: conversation. Most of the top brands on Facebook all create original content, post comments, or respond to customers through social networking to increase the conversation about their company and products.

Comments

The formula for success at this sort of thing remains (as it has forever) providing really helpful information that isn’t just commercial fluff — and keeping it relevant and fresh to encourage folks to make it a regular stop on their busy day.For years I did a higher ed website that built incredibly sustained readership and huge marketing success because it provided neat info about people and activities in a simple, direct, newsy kind of way. The big issue with this sort of thing is *commitment* to the project. You can’t do it halfway.What I find most annoying about many business sites — especially retail sites — is that there’s no simple hotline (live chat, email, 800 number) that gets immediate attention when things go wrong (delivery problem, damaged goods, wrong order, etc.). Half the time you spend so much time jumping through bureaucratic hoops that in the end you’re not only mad, but stay mad. I know of only one retail store (a photo equipment dealer) that had an 800 number on a card that came with the goods. No phone tree, no messages… it went straight to a person who actually answered the phone on the second ring. And they were ready to fix the problem. Wow. We could use more of that…more so that even a chatty blog or twitter.But bottom line: why the heck would anyone read your material and come back for more? If you can answer that realistically, you’re going to succeed.

 

Dear friend,Excellent master piece.I have read of your more ink on this subject by twice.Through twitter ,many small business entrants already writing of their business connections by 140 words at a sketch.Through face book,surely business prospects will grow at larger levels.Many friends,easy navigation,simple-attractive words like good friends,good feeling ,why can!t share,promote our products.Through e-net works, with minimum cost,business will grow,profits in future months by these well known social websites.Once again, i am thanking you and to this website for bringing new market ideas to many aspiring trade brackets.

 

It’s a fundamental principle with all businesses. Connect with your audience. Stop trying to bombard them with ads, and deals and just answer their questions.Twitter has an amazing ability to personalize an impersonal industry. A digital message board can feel very personal, which instills trust. Very good for business if you know how to use it.

 

“Choosing to use social media marketing”Does not mean:* Throwing up a company blog for newsletter items and press releases* Using Twitter to syndicate your RSS feeds* Placing ads on Facebook* Anything that requires little or no human company representative to interactDoes mean:* Engaging stakeholders on a one-to-one and one-to-many basis* Making a time investment in social media* Sharing content and offering others to use it on your behalf* Letting go of controlling the message“–means choosing to update corporate culture”biznetis.net

 

2 WAY COMMUNICATION is essential when utilizing social media to promote your brand. Since twitter and facebook have become THE trendy investment for businesses I’ve noticed countless organizations screwing up this powerful opportunity to connect with customers.A safe bet for those new to the world of social media, see what is working for others and then apply it to your own focused strategy.

 

Social media is nothing more than those VO5 commercials from the 70′s, “I told two friends and they told two friends and so on and so on.”

Word of mouth has always been the best advertising tool and it has always been free. If you have a great product or service, people will talk about it. Social media adds the technology aspect to make that communication easier, faster and even less expensive.

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