How to Leverage Social Media in Your Retail Store

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Social media can allow retailers to showcase their brand, vision, mission and personality – and above all, reach a wider audience. Through these sites, stores can learn more about their customers wants, needs and challenges and get ideas about how they can accommodate. Eventually, well-managed social media accounts and marketing efforts will pay off. Your customers will be more involved and engaged in your brand, and your store will drive its bottom line.

Retailers across the country are using social media as tools to boost their in-store sales, and it’s working. You can find out how your online efforts are benefiting your brick-and-mortar store by keeping track of your foot traffic, sales transactions and conversion rates over time using a people counting system.

Here are ways to leverage five of the most popular social media:


To make it easy for retailers, Facebook offers a business page template and Facebook Insights, an analytics platform. Combined with your in-store people counting system, you can compare and contrast your social media traffic to your brick-and-mortar foot traffic.

Like content marketers do with blogs, you can share local or brand-related information that you think will be useful to your friends, followers and customers so that they view you as a valuable resource. Post questions in your status asking your customers what they want to see in your store, which products they’re loving, which ones they’re hating – it’s like crowd sourcing or conducting a focus group. The good thing is, most users aren’t afraid to be brutally honest when they are able to hide behind their screen.

You can also provide your customers with an incentive to shop for your products by offering discounts to those who like your page or check-in.


Conducting a tweet chat shows that a retailer is interested in what its shoppers have to say. They also allow you to identify influencers and engage with them. A representative leading the chat is entrusted to relay the information while also identifying worthy consumer insights for the retailer. Participant feedback can potentially supply research. By listening to consumer concerns during tweet chats, retailers could get ahead of developing trends and possibly start looking at products.

You can also use Twitter like Old Spice, Taco Bell and Charmin do – they often joke with their followers. Old Spice and Taco Bell even poked fun at each other via tweets. People browse twitter for funny or interesting one-liners, not annoying sales pitches. Think of a funny or interesting way to talk about your store and products, enticing people to come in and take a look.


Tumblr blogs are a great resource for retailers because they serve many of the same functions as Facebook and Twitter, but allow them to customize their own pages to coincide with their vision or brand – without limitations on character count and restrictions on design. The site also allows users to share their posts on other social media.

Retailers like Ann Taylor, J. Crew, Kate Spade and Oscar de la Renta all have beautifully-branded Tumblr blogs.

Tumblr is ideal for retailers with a target audience who is young and hip. While the blogging platform has users of all ages, the majority of its user base is in their teens or early-to-mid 20s. These young bloggers often post pictures of clothing and products they want to buy, as well as review clothing and products they have already bought – making it a perfect platform for retailers.

Instagram and Pinterest

These social media tools are perfect for retailers because they have become popular for their use of visually stimulating and aesthetically appealing images. Also, their users tend to spend a considerable amount of time scrolling through posts, browsing images of clothing and products they want to buy. Both can be accessed via the web and smartphones, making your brand extremely accessible.

Martha Stewart, Bergdorf Goodman and Anthropologie are among the many retailers who use Pinterest.

Here are a few ways to use them:

  • Sneak peeks of new merchandise
  • Behind the scenes photos and videos
  • Store-related hash tags and pinboards
  • Customer photos and reviews
  • Contests
  • Photo flashbacks

Ways To Incorporate Social Media Marketing Inside & Outside the Store

From outside in:

  1. People often watch television while also being on their smartphone or laptop. Businesses can incorporate social marketing and branding into their traditional ads to encourage customers to interact with them. It could be as simple as singing up for text alerts of store sales. A TV commercial could encourage them to text a certain number for free updates, and they can do it right then and there on their smartphone – which is undoubtedly right next to them on the couch, if not in their hands. Using a people counter, retailers can then determine whether or not those efforts helped them to spread the word and increase their in-store traffic during sales.
  2. With social marketing and branding, retailers could also promote brick-and-mortar exclusives on a banner ad on their web store or a social media post. By using a people counter to determine the in-store traffic gained from the sale or promotion, store owners and managers could compare that number to their web traffic. This would provide them with insight into the success of their brick-and-mortar store vs. their online presence.

From inside out:

  1. Another easy way is to place marketing materials on check-out counters or near displays to encourage social media interaction with customers. The possibilities are endless. It could be as simple as signs that say “like us on Facebook” or “follow us on Pinterest” – or as high-tech as a tablet kiosk that allows shoppers to create a product wish list or take photobooth pictures and upload them to the store’s Instagram… whatever will make them want to mention your brand.
  2. Retailers could place QR codes on shelf tags, providing customers with a quick and easy way to find these products online, read reviews, view and order additional colors or sizes or access coupons. They could also place QR codes in email promotions so that recipients can open the message on their smartphone and scan the code to receive discounts in store. QR codes are not only a quick and easy way for customers to gain access to additional resources, they are also a relatively new technology that will be exciting for them to use. The use of new technology, in general, puts your brand a cut above the rest.
  3. By offering discounts to people who check-in to the store using location-based apps like FourSquare, retailers can encourage first-time customers to not only visit their store but also immediately make a satisfying purchase. They may have already heard about your brand on social media, but first-time check-in discounts are an incentive for them to take the next step in the buying process and make the trip to your brick-and-mortar store. By advertising these promotions online or in the store’s window display, visitors will know upon entering that they have an exciting opportunity waiting for them inside.

After taking these steps, you can measure how they have contributed to in-store success with your people counting system. Is your foot traffic increasing as your web traffic does? Are people finding out about your brick-and-mortar store through hash tags?

Monitoring your foot traffic will allow you to know if your social media marketing efforts have been effective. Stagnant results could mean that something is wrong – posting too much, not posting enough or not speaking to the right audience.

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