Retailers, there is a good chance that many of your brick-and-mortar customers and prospective customers are online. Not online to buy primarily, but online via social media like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter (or the new Threads) to belong.
If you're not on board yet, you’re missing the boat—big time.
Social media offers an easy way to reach and influence your own unique niche shopper base.
I received a call from a distraught business owner. It seems his partner had a large FB following, but the business was bleeding money.
When I dug deeper, the partner was using a contest app that had visitors like and share a daily post for a chance to win a $100+ item for free. Digging into the winners, these people weren’t even within their state!
Don't use such contests repeatedly to attract and keep paying customers, as you’re just playing Santa Claus to people who don’t care about your success.
On the other hand...when you come up with great content that truly engages fans, they'll like, share and comment, exposing their friends to your brand.
Learn how to use Facebook for business and start selling with these nine steps
1. Use analytics to time and target your posts
The highest click-thru, according to Sure Payrollis from 1-4 pm, with the highest on Wednesdays. The worst times? Weekends before 8 am or after 8 pm.
Dig into your Facebook page’s Insights to find exactly what works for your brand.
Adam Smith at York Barbell in York, PA uses analytics for targeted marketing to help grow their reach and customers. He noticed their second-biggest market was in the Baltimore, MD area, about an hour from the store.
He created a 2-week Facebook marketing campaign in Baltimore and got about 60 new followers. He also has all of the products broken down into different photo albums. And speaking of photos…
2. Add a picture
Attach a photo to any status update and get 2x more likes and 2x the comments. Yes, you can still ask a question, “What’s your favorite _____ of ours?” but adding a picture makes it much more noticeable like MacSuperstore in Santa Barbara shows below.
3. Make your posts fun
I can’t tell you how many times I've seen a retailer post a picture with a description i.e. Model 3838 from our Spring collection. Such posts get only a few likes. There is no context, no creativity, and no effort to get the reader to engage.
You always want to add one creative sentence that gets the reader to participate or comment.
Bubbly Paws in Minneapolis is a pet store that also offers grooming. They share fun pictures of dogs being washed in their location.
Why it’s smart:
Who doesn’t like dog pictures?
Reinforces what they do
It gets people thinking about how they should get their dogs washed
Warm and funny always gets shared, not just by the owner whose dog is pictured, but by all their fans
Gina McCauley with Snooter-doots has Lennie & Bruce act as their store ambassadors, spreading goodwill and highjinks across the web, encouraging folks to follow Snooter-doots to see what they've been up to.
Lest you think it’s all about dogs, Alex Job keeps things lively at 80-year-old Job's Nursery with fresh content about plants and weather conditions of the day using photos of his garden center’s cats and flowers to keep his community engaged.
4. Be human
Isabelle Gracedoesn’t just show off their jewelry designs, but they do it with a personality that brings humanity to their posts; no wonder they have 27k fans.
Jennifer Le Grimm at LUX Beauty Boutique in Edmonton gets a great response with her hashtag #BeTheBuyer campaign when she visits the NYNOW gift show.
She asks for followers' opinions, not just for a thumbs up or down on new products. She also shares personal experiences on their blog, which gets traffic by posting on the FB page.
5. Show off to remove fear
OK, they’re not a retailer, but if you do custom work, take a look at Lindus Construction. They show actual work they’ve done with videos to get potential customers over their fears of working with someone they don’t know.
Pictures of satisfied customers and the guys who will actually be working on your home go a long way. And so do their 5-star reviews on their site.
6. Change up the types of content you share
Pufferbeliies Toys in the Shenandoah Valley has been doing online media right for a long time, including changing their page photos regularly, posting events, products, videos, and more.
They do it all with the assured voice of a small business person’s excitement for the new products they are carrying, the new projects they are creating, and the fun of running an indie business all while sharing with their tribe.
Michelle K. Sholund from By the Bay Botanicals has found the best reactions from her fans are store videos that do anything from thanking people for following her gift store on Facebook to showing how a product works to behind-the-scenes stuff like goofing off.
7. Make your brand relatable
OK, Dove is a consumer brand, but it also has a great online community because they creatively get their message that being beautiful isn’t just skin deep as this example from Mother’s Day shows.
Dove is successful because it can bridge its products with a continuing dialogue that tells a story. Instead of sales pitches, their posts are centered around the relatable lifestyle of their customers, like being a mother or father.
Jill Schlindwein Reicks’ target customers inspired to Sew at Pine Needles who were late joining the ranks of FB. She educates her customers on what her store is doing with Facebook and uses that engagement to build community.
“Like our classes in our store that teach sewing, we take our role as educators to bring our customers’ social media IQ up a notch.
They trust us to explain things to them like SHARING and LIKING ad how to use Facebook for business.
As our customers are not watching a large variety of social media, we have our finger on the pulse to determine where they are in their learning.
The messages we send are designed to match up our products with the personalities that we are working to reach.”
They also have tech videos that take the fear out of maintaining your premium machine.
8. Deliver social proof
Third-party endorsements of satisfied customers are always good. This shoutout goes to photographer Ken Lane whose photographic and video posts show his customers’ excitement and pride when his art is delivered...leading to more buyers of his art.
Renae Gonzalez owns Little Miss Everything, a children's boutique and party place. She’s found that posts that feature customers get the most likes. She has customers use hashtag #littlemisseverything, and then she shares her customer photos.
Rosemary Staeck and Equus Now encourage their loyal fans to send in their photos, and then they make it into a movie as they did for the 4th of July or share a picture of their customer on a horse in London.
9. Solve problems your customers face
Torrid is a plus-size retailer for women. Their posts give fashion tips, not just product shots...and with a great attitude.
Let's summarize how to use Facebook for business:
Post at the right time.
Always add a picture.
Make your posts fun by adding a creative sentence that gets the reader to think, participate, or comment.
Show off to remove fear.
Change up the content you share.
Show your brand as a person they can relate to.
Deliver social proof.
Solve problems your customers face.
And it never hurts to encourage your paying shoppers to take a pic and post to your page or theirs.
I know it’s a lot. Trust me, every day, I’m trying to think what I can post for my18K Facebook fans, and it takes work. But it’s not like having to do inventory; it’s bite-size with almost immediate gratification.
Just bookmark this blog for inspiration when you're stuck on how to use Facebook or another social platform for business purposes. Once you get the hang of bettering your presence on FB, you’ll want to learn more about their sponsored posts.
And if you've got something out of this post, feel free to share using the buttons at the top. (It never hurts to remind people.)
Your brand is being actively discussed online anyway
Help the conversation along so you can hold on to those who like you, and then their friends will be exposed to what a great and genuine retailer you are.
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