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Social media has become an essential tool for building and maintaining your business brand online, giving your business much greater reach and accessibility for your customers – as well as providing a platform for reviews, updates, customer communication and more. According to Statista, internet users in 2020 had an average of 8.6 social media accounts – allowing them to interact easily with brands across multiple platforms and giving brands the option to tailor their social media use based on platform and audience.

Most retail businesses and shopping brands should consider focusing primarily on at least one of the ‘big five’ social media platforms:

  1. Facebook – the go-to for most businesses, giving you access to a wide range of possible audiences
  2. Twitter – for short, sharp updates and links to products and offers across any industry, as well as niche interests that may have a focused Twitter community
  3. LinkedIn – ideal for business-to-business focused brands and professional audiences
  4. Instagram – ideal for more visual products and results-driven services (barbering, beauty, home & garden)
  5. YouTube – for longer videos, premises tours, product features, how-to guides and beyond, ideal to establish authority and build trust

Which platform works for your business will often depend on your target audience. Some businesses have found huge success with the newer social platform TikTok, for example, where their target audience is teens and younger adults. You have to choose to focus your energies on the platforms that are suitable for you and, more importantly, where you can build an engaged community from your target customer base that gives your business a long-lasting boost.

It is important to note that these platforms need to be managed and maintained – keeping your audience engaged requires engagement from your business. Today’s customers are more likely to be digital and social first, so often choose to use social channels to communicate with your business. What media you use on that social platform can also have a big impact; keeping your content visually engaging and appropriate to your audience and the platform itself are key strategic elements when planning social media use.

Social media can often be used for customer service and, if leveraged correctly, can also demonstrate your ability to solve customers’ problems and deliver fantastic customer experiences – but only if you fully utilise it as a communication platform and engage with what your customers are saying.

Social media management platform Sprout Social recently surveyed more than a thousand Facebook, Twitter and Instagram users on their expectations of brand engagements on social platforms. The research indicated some pretty compelling reasons why retailers must take extra care to engage with their social followers; social surpasses phone and email as the first place people turn to when they have a problem or issue with the product or service, and the number of social messages needing a response from a brand has increased by 18% in the past year alone.

However, if you decide to use social media, bear in mind it’s a two-way communication channel. Whilst it’s important for you to use it to broadcast your message, brand proposition, new products, special offers and more, remember that when doing so, customers may want to engage and ask questions – be willing to respond and help drive the conversation.

Download our digital marketing guide for more ways to use social media to grow your retail business, and make your digital assets work for you!

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