Social Media is the Way to Connect to Customers

John Krautzel
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Social media has reinvented the way people and businesses communicate with one another. Retailers can use social media platforms to create a strong and loyal customer base. By introducing a purposeful and well-planned social media strategy, retailers can engage with specific online communities to cultivate real connections. A social media strategy is not about direct sales. It is about connecting with customers who then connect to a product or lifestyle.

According to research by Vision Critical, over 40 percent of social media users made a purchase after connecting with that product and business on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter. Successful businesses understand that to stay relevant in this fast-paced retail environment, they need to step away from traditional marketing methods and move toward digital marketing.

When diving into the world of social media marketing, you should focus on what makes your business unique. Then, choose two or three platforms that best fit your company's personality, and devote a set amount of time every day to managing these accounts. Designate one person, or a specific team of people, to handle these accounts to maintain a consistent style and voice.

Of the numerous social media outlets available, retailers can find platforms that appeal to their intended audience. Facebook is a great place to create a general business page. Spread word about the products you are selling by connecting with friends and family and by asking them to promote your page. Make sure to frequently update your page status and focus on special promotions or unique products that may appeal to the masses.

Twitter is another example of a social media platform that several consumers use. Keep tweets informative, and be sure to respond to any retweets. This is a good place to connect with similar businesses or products and cross-promote. Use hashtags to increase your audience and promote trends. Poll your followers to add another level of engagement.

Younger consumers are more likely to use lifestyle applications such as Instagram and Pinterest. Instagram connects pictures to people by using hashtags, similar to Twitter. Consumers are drawn to pictures of your products or by seeing a visual representation of the lifestyle you are selling. Pinterest allows consumers to bookmark their favorite styles and is also lifestyle-oriented. This is an ideal platform for potential customers to discover and share your products.

There are many ways for retailers to engage with consumers through social media. Developing a social media presence helps promote a retailer's persona while bringing the right customers to the table. The ultimate goal is to increase sales by bringing people to the storefront or website. In today's retail environment, making connections through social media may turn a one-time shopper into a loyal and lifetime customer.

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