Retailers have embraced social media wholeheartedly and it's no wonder. The interactive format is ideal for retail businesses and early adopters in the sector have used the power of social to devastating effect.
Statistics show that retailers excel at using the likes of Twitter, Pinterest and particularly Facebook to go beyond simply engaging prospects - and are actively using these mediums as sales tools in themselves.
To give newcomers to the social scene some inspiration on how to best utilise these exciting new avenues, we've identified a few examples of retailers at the top of their social media game and discuss how you can emulate these industry leaders.
Using social media effectively
If your customers are engaged in online discussions every day, then you simply need to be part of the conversation. Using social media as an engagement tool is something of a no-brainer for retailers - the truly successful brands are the ones that are able to respond to customers on Twitter, share their news on Facebook and show viewers what's going on behind the scenes on YouTube to further their brand identity online.
In short, the best and the brightest are able to exploit the strengths of each channel and show a willingness to engage with key audiences on their own terms.
When developing your social media strategy, there's a lot to be learned from industry leaders:
- Toys R Us on Facebook
The competition between retailers in the run up to Christmas is fierce and brands strive to produce creative online campaigns that really set them apart.
Toys R US did just that for Christmas 2012. The toy retailer launched an interactive social campaign on Facebook to engage families with the brand. Toys R Us asked parents to submit family photos to appear in their online Family Album and the most commented-on and liked photos were then used in their accompanying television advert. The campaign received in excess of 90,000 likes, and has been growing ever since.
Check out Toys R Us' Facebook page here.
- IKEA on Pinterest
Launched in 2011, online photo sharing hub Pinterest has quickly become a social media giant - now boasting more than 70 million users. Pinterest is a great platform for style retailers due to the opportunities for brand awareness and customer retention that pinning products, designs and ideas provides.
Clever retailers have caught wind of this and none in a more effective way than IKEA. IKEA uses Pinterest to run competitions, show off new collections and link to other social media accounts - creating a strong brand identity in a modern, customer-centric style. It's therefore not suprising that the IKEA UK Pinterest account has around 6,000 followers.
- Kellogg's Krave on YouTube
The UK is lucky enough to house a dedicated network of online content creators who create content for, and get paid by, YouTube. Whilst you might not have heard of them, millions have. Known as vloggers, their channels boast anything between 100,000 and two million subscribers and are therefore a powerful force in getting your product demonstrated to a large audience.
In a 2013, an online campaign by Kellogg's sent personalised boxes of cereal to various famous YouTubers and challenged them to make a video for Krave in an amusing, creative way. West End actress, Carrie Hope Fletcher, for example, was set a Krave Challenge to write and perform a song including a series of cereal buzzwords.
In total, Crave sponsored 14 videos and this content was viewed by over 5.6 million people. Check out an example below:
- Mercedes-Benz on Twitter
As Mercedes-Benz celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2011, the brand looked to cash in on its history while simultaneously developing a new and innovative identity - creating an innovative social media campaign that aenabled them to do both simultaneously.
Mercedes-Benz developed the world's first Twitter Race. Featuring four teams, cars were driven a mile for every four tweets received in their support. The two-person teams chronicled their travels in real time across social networking sites, and overall 1,400 miles were covered by Mercedes-Benz cars. Enagement with key audiences helped to generate more than 77,000 followers on Twitter and included another 21,000 active participants: Mercedes-Benz had no Twitter followers at the launch of the campaign.
- Kate Spade on Tumblr
Following in the footsteps of fashion bloggers, Tumblr is the new 'place to be seen' for fashion brands wanting to get the best out of social media campaigns.
After establishing accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, YouTube and Instagram, fashion retailer Kate Spade took to Tumblr in 2011 to promote her line. Kate's Tumblr boasts first-looks at new products, current designs and exclusive content - engaging customers with designs on a much more visual and personal level than the majority of her competitors. And this tactic seems to be working, with Kate's Tumblr followers reblogging each post over 100 times on average.
While the above might make it seem deceptively easy to enjoy social success, the truth of the matter is it's a hard slog that involves a lot of time, resources, creativity and above all, effort.
What have your key challenges been in the social arena and how have you overcome these? Do you have any favourite social retailers? And if so, what makes them stand out? We always love to hear what you have to think, so don't be shy and leave us a comment!
And as always, if you want help in following in the footsteps of the pros in social media marketing or are simply looking for advice on where to start with your social media strategy. Get in touch with RDPR today.
We've also produced a free guide for SMEs looking to get to grips with online marketing, so be sure to download it for free today:
Images used courtesy of Effbomb on Deviant Art, Hakan Dahlstrom on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons