How Retailers Use Social Media to Increase Customer Engagement

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If you’re looking for current, creative ways to boost customer engagement, then embracing the power of social media may be just the answer you’re seeking. From Facebook to Snapchat and everything in between, social platforms can be a powerful tool for connecting with your audience and converting customers into brand enthusiasts. What’s more, you can use data from social media in conjunction with a people counting solution and sales data from your POS to find out what your customers are interested in online. This will give you an idea of what sort of promotions will draw them into your store and ultimately turn into a sale.

How Social Media Drives Foot Traffic

Today, social media plays a key role in foot traffic into business locations. From retailers to casinos to libraries, businesses of all kinds have discovered how social media marketing can reach the right customers and encourage them to visit their locations.

One of the easiest approaches? You can offer a coupon or discount to followers only (i.e., a consumer who “likes” your page) through a single social channel (it’s easier to track that way) and that’s redeemable in a physical location only.

Targeting through Facebook is a great example for casinos, especially since both casino visitors and users of the social platform skew older. By targeting user profiles similar your casino’s current customer base, you can offer an incentive to visit your casino and see how customer acquisition grows accordingly.

Ways to Increase Customer Engagement

Create a Campaign

Retailers new to social media can tackle the basics by launching a campaign to boost brand awareness and attract followers. Come up with a clever and memorable hashtag that consumers can use to talk about your company. What’s more, incentivize users to engage with your brand by asking them to post a snap of their favorite product (maybe those awesome jeans they scored at half off?) along with the hashtag in exchange for a reasonable reward, such as a coupon code or freebie. Contests, sweepstakes and giveaways, complete with a dedicated hashtag, are all great ways to drum up followers and garner attention for your company.

User Generated Content (UGC)

User-generated content, or UGC, is all the rage these days and a terrific way to increase customer engagement. Simply put, UGC is content, such as photos or videos, that consumers have themselves created that brands use for their own marketing purposes (with permission, of course). It taps into two compelling factors: ego (who doesn’t want to see their humble photo promoted on a retailer’s page?) and authenticity (the biggest buzzword in social media marketing right now).

UGC is seen as less “staged” and “posed” than brand-generated marketing materials, further fueling the connection with everyday customers. The girl-next-door posting a pic of herself wearing the cool layered necklace from your store typically can be more relatable than a model showing off the same goods.

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Many of the most popular social platforms, such as Snapchat and Instagram, are visually driven, so tap into that phenomenon and encourage customer engagement by installing photo booths or selfie stations in your stores. Make it easy for customers to auto-upload their pics to social platforms with your hashtag automatically included and watch the photos spread across social like wildfire.

Social as a Service

Social media is a great tool for customer service, as many retailers are learning. Customers today want instant gratification for everything, including answers to their inquiries and resolutions for problems that unfortunately pop up. Social media feels somewhat conversational by nature, and consumers are increasingly turning to their favorite platform seeking customer service from retailers. Be sure to train your staff on how to serve consumers through social channels. Expectations on social differ from email and ecommerce; customers are unwilling to wait days to hear back from you. By mastering customer service on social media, you have yet another seamless avenue for enhancing customer engagement.

Learn to Listen

In order to effectively engage with your targeted audience, you must actively listen to them on social media. What are they posting, liking, sharing? Which posts of yours are they sharing, liking, or commenting on? Pay close attention to your insights and this will tell you two things. One, what sort of content you should be creating or sharing more often, and two, it will give you an idea about what sort of promotions or events will draw people to your brick-and-mortar location. When AB testing promotion and event campaigns on social media, it is crucial to have people counting solutions installed in your establishment. You can compare sales data from your point-of-sale to foot traffic data to truly determine the ROI of promotions and events.

Ratings and Reviews

Social media gives every customer a voice. Don’t forget to actively monitor your social chatter for customer feedback that you can incorporate to improve your product, service and overall business. The bottom line: ratings and reviews can boost customer engagement by getting your shoppers to give your company a very public, positive shout out.

Encourage customers to speak up and engage with your company by sending out post-transaction surveys soliciting feedback about their experience. It could as simple as a “how did we do?” rating or a more in-depth review of the product or service. Using this data in conjunction with numbers from a people counting solution can help you gauge what percentage of shoppers you engaged with the survey and the proportion of customers that provided positive feedback.

Social media quickly is becoming a critical tool in how retailers engage with current and potential customers. By becoming a savvy social company, you can gain a host of new customers and strengthen your relationship with those already loyal to your brand.

Here’s Where Traffic Counters Factor In

How can you really measure the impact of social media at your locations? By monitoring foot traffic with people counting technology. With a people counter system installed in your facility, it’s easy to identify trends in traffic trends, cross reference that with your social analytics and observe the results. For example, if you launched a social campaign on Friday encouraging shoppers to redeem a coupon in store on Saturday, then you’d expect a corresponding rise in Saturday footfall. If there isn’t an increase, you may want to tweak your approach in the future. With traffic-counting data, you can verify just how effective your social campaigns truly are.

Over time, you’ll get a feel for which campaigns are successful and which ones don’t encourage visits to physical locations. Capitalize on what works: multiply the impact of social media by creating initiatives similar to what has driven tangible results in the past. This could mean prioritizing certain social channels over others; perhaps Facebook is more effective for reaching your audience than Twitter, or your Generation Z consumer base prefers Snapchat.

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