Web Clicks: Using Social Media for “Memorable” Marketing

Web Clicks: Using Social Media for “Memorable” Marketing

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If you’ve merely dabbled to this point in using social media as a way to market and promote your business, now might be a good time to reevaluate those efforts as the social media world is taking some interesting new twists and turns as consumers’ relationships with the phenomenon continue to evolve.

For instance, who could have imagined that a company like Frito-Lay would take to Facebook to develop a new potato chip flavor. A decision that years ago would have involved a series of focus groups, research and trend analysis is now an app with an “I’d Eat That” button for visitors to pick the new flavor of choice.

Equally as interesting is the fact Walmart recently decided to stock lollipop-shaped cake makers in its stores this holiday season after studying months of Twitter chatter on the subject.

In the event you’ve been operating your business in a cave, we thought we’d point out that social media has moved from being something worth having a presence on to a consumer trend spotting/marketing juggernaut.

“There’s mountains and mountains of data being created in social media,” explained Ravi Raj, vice president for products for @WalmartLabs, adding that the aforementioned decision on the cake pops, as well as other decisions on what merchandise to carry, is now largely based on that data.

Facebook and several other social media platforms have now emerged as a vital consumer-shopping resource that retailers simply can’t ignore anymore. A recent CEA survey found that eight out of 10 social media users who researched any kind of consumer electronics prior to purchase found Facebook and other social sites useful in helping them make buying decisions. A quarter of all social media users, and two-thirds of users who spend more than 13.5 hours a week on social sites, said they always or almost always refer to the sites before buying these products.

Simply stated, social media is where your customers are today, and Facebook now represents just one spoke on this very effective marketing wheel.

       Pinterest Interest Growing
Pinterest is a pinboard-style social photo-sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, hobbies and the like. Users can browse other pinboards for inspiration, “re-pin” images to their own collections or simply “like” the photos they come across. Pinterest’s mission, as the site’s founders explain, is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.”

Pinterest has cemented itself in social media society by providing a new twist on social interaction, as the focus is squarely on the things people enjoy about life. The fact the site is so photo-centric should only make it all the more appealing to the imaging retail crowd.

The picture-pinning site is also a natural fit for e-commerce as many experts now feel Pinterest is actually a far better social media platform than Facebook or Twitter for retailers to engage with their potential customers.

A recent survey done by Shop.org, ComScore and the Partnering Group states that consumers are using Pinterest even more than Facebook to gather information on retailers, and interact with them. The study reveals they already follow an average of 9.3 retail companies on Pinterest, compared with the average of 6.9 retailers on Facebook and 8.5 retailers on Twitter.

      One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Okay, it’s fair to say there are plenty of retailers that have yet to figure out the perfect social media strategy for their business, but it’s just as fair to note that successful retailers understand the value of it and the important role it plays in engaging customers and building relationships with them.

While different retail locations will use social media in a variety of different ways, the bottom line remains that a viable social media strategy is about knowing your customers and finding the right message and medium to engage them. It’s also about gaining insights into consumer interests, intentions, motivations and perceptions by looking at what they say and do on the various social platforms.

Of paramount importance is the realization that your customers can access social media whenever and wherever they want. Make sure they are aware of all the different ways they can stay connected to your location—whether by signing up for a rewards/giveaway account, getting on your e-mail list, liking the store on Facebook, following you on Twitter or joining your Pinterest section. The key to this engagement is making it possible through whatever social channel they may be most frequently involved with. The more options you provide, the better.

        The Proverbial Outside-the-Box Thinking
While all this is well and good, sometimes just letting loose with some good old-fashioned personality, coupled with a dash of creativity, can work wonders in the social media world as well. Take Stan and Shelly Grosz, owners of Horn Photo in Fresno, California, and their remarkably entertaining (and effective) YouTube channel (youtube.com/HornPhotoFresno) used to perfection to promote their business.

Their latest effort on the channel, pushing their new photo beverage “Koozies,” is simply hysterical, shot from the backseat of a moving car on a sunny Fresno day with the Nikon V1 (which they explain is also sold at Horn Photo). Brilliant.

The newest social media message is all about diversification and creativity, using all the channels available in this space. Not being afraid to take a chance or two from time to time doesn’t hurt either.

       Storytelling Time
Lauren Sosik is a marketing/communications veteran who previously ran a Connecticut-based marketing firm that stressed the importance of using social media long before retailers had any idea how to properly use it. Years later she still stresses that the social media game provides more authentic interaction with consumers and explains that, “maneuvered correctly it is far less intrusive than traditional marketing and promotion.”

Sosik adds, “If you blandly tell your customers about your various photo services and they are priced thusly, all you’ve done is advertise that fact and it gets lost in the clutter. However, if post on social media that you just did a photo book of your vacation to Hawaii and also picked the best image from that vaca to do a gallery wrap and post those to social media, you’ve told them an engaging story and lifted those two services to another level in their minds. That’s social media’s true power.”

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