When we talk about social media, we need to talk about creating not just a great sales and marketing tool but also a photo destination for your customers. Your social media platform, Facebook, for instance, should be a place where they can go to be inspired and share their work.
Larger companies with significant budgets can assign more robust resources to social media. But what can a smaller business do to succeed without a dedicated social marketer?
Let’s Get Posting
The impact of mobile use and mobile purchasing can be significant in a store’s revenue. We all know mobile devices are part of everyone’s lives. And with around two billion Facebook users, if you are not engaging them, you are missing a great sales and marketing opportunity.
So let’s concentrate on Facebook. The ability to schedule posts to your store’s Facebook page gives you the power to look like you’re spending serious resources on social media, even though a week’s worth of posts can be created in minutes on the same day. A key to success is keeping it fresh. At a minimum, you should be posting daily. Posting more than once a day is even better! Set up a schedule for your daily posts, then commit to an additional post or two each day. Not sure what to talk about? I’ve come up with a few ideas to get you going.
• Share a great off-line customer experience.
• Put a fresh spin on a promotion you’re running.
• Offer weekly photo tips.
• Tie in photography to something happening in the news, weather or time of year.
• Share a photography education resource.
• Highlight an employee who people will see if they come into your store.
• Encourage users to post photos about a particular subject.
• Feature a new cool product or accessory.
These posts should have a variety of messages, including direct links to purchase products, deals and promotions, and compelling photographs that will inspire. The key to success though is not just posting but interacting with your customers and inviting them to be a part of your page. Think about the interactions you have with customers in the store; bring that same sense of community to your Facebook presence.
Just like a stop into your store is a genuine engagement with your customers, a social media engagement can replicate that brick-and-mortar experience and result in the same customer satisfaction and loyalty to your business.
While product promotions and deals are obvious for your social platforms, getting personal with your customers using Facebook allows you to build a relationship that can make them your brand’s ambassadors for life.
These interactive experiences enable you to share non-product-related visuals and stories that will evoke positive emotions and lead to sharing your content with others. If these “others” find value and an emotional tie to the posts, they will “like” your business and can be converted into loyal customers.
In today’s society, it’s not just about what you have to say to your customers. It is also about what they have to say to you—and to the online world. People want to have their stories, their images, their expertise out front and center. Allowing customers to post to your page about industry topics, sharing photographs they made about a particular subject, and engaging them in conversations about photography will make them feel connected to your brand—and be more willing to purchase from you.
Instant Customer Service
For many consumers, your Facebook page is the first customer-service resource they engage. So the last thing you want is for them to have a negative experience when they arrive at your page.
In our instant gratification culture, responding to customer inquiries as quickly as possible can help with that customer experience and entice them to give you a 5-star rating. This may seem like a small victory, but if you can acquire and maintain that top rating, potential customers will see your business is there for their photographic needs.
During regular business hours, your response time to social queries should be as immediate as possible. When your off-line business is closed, remember customers are still expecting to shop online. So a good rule of thumb is a response within 12 hours. A quick response to customer issues can provide a rapid resolution rather than drag out a problem.
If they find your business to be responsive to their needs, and are pleasantly surprised by how swift the resolution was, they would be even more loyal. And perhaps they will share that experience with their friends and family.
You may not have enough staff to provide a dedicated person to handle this instant feedback. However, working social media into a few different employees’ responsibilities can ensure someone is communicating with customers. Once customers have this favorable experience and they share it, you should reshare it across your company’s social media channels.
Boosting Your Online Sales
Maximizing your online reach is great. But offering a way for customers to purchase right from your Facebook page can result in direct revenue from all of the work you have done with it.
One successful option is adding a call-to-action button to your Facebook page, for example, a Shop Now button. If you’re engaging a customer through Facebook Messenger, you can turn that conversation into an instant sale with a Shop Now or Buy button. These marketing tools are mobile responsive and show your customer you’ve created a seamless shopping experience for their convenience.
The holidays are right around the corner, and that means the key selling season is quickly approaching. Use this time to get your social media plan ready.
Social media can make a significant impact on your sales, whether you are a large business with many resources or a small store trying to make a large impact. Even the smallest stores can reach a broad range of consumers by engaging them online. You can realize incredibly loyal customers who never step foot into your store and help build your online presence.
Tracy Mack-Jackson is the president of the IDP Group. The company helps clients use the Internet to improve business performance by blending strategy, technology and creative expertise to deliver highly effective Internet solutions. Previously, Mack-Jackson held senior management roles at several companies within the imaging industry. She was senior manager of Internet Development at Nikon Inc. for five years. Before that she spent five years at the Disney Institute managing the Photography Entertainment Arts Department. Prior to that, she worked as a photography and graphics editor as well as a photojournalist.