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  • Jonathan Harmon

Introduction to Social Media for Retailers

Updated: Jan 21


Introduction


3.96 billion people - over half the world's population - use social media, spending an average of 2 hours and 24 minutes a day according to data compiled by Digitalmarketing.org.


Are you using this powerful channel to help promote your business in today's challenging marketplace?


Read on to learn more about social media and how you can use it to help meet your business goals.


What is social media?


Definition


According to Wikipedia, "social media are interactive digitally-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation or sharing/exchange of information, ideas, career interests, and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks."


Major Channels


The major social media channels are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Other popular social media channels include Pinterest, Snapchat and LinkedIn.


Emerging Channels


Smaller social media channels that are on the rise include: Twitch, Houseparty, Goodreads, Vero, Nextdoor, and Medium.


Why should I use social media for my business?


You may be asking yourself, why do I need to use social media, I own a store, I don't sell online.


Regardless of how you sell, with its high visibility, low cost, content options, extensive reach, and marketing effectiveness, social media is a useful tool to promote your business.


Visibility


For more and more people, if it isn't on the Internet, it doesn't exist. Even when they are shopping locally because they use the Internet to find local businesses.


In fact, according to BrightLocal's 2020 local consumer survey, "In 2020, 93% of US consumers searched online for a local business. From these, 34% searched every day, while 73% searched weekly (up from 70%)."


The bigger your Internet presence, the more visible you are to local prospects and customers. One way to increase your presence online is to use social media to promote your business.


Cost


Organic posts to social media platforms have no cost beyond the production of the shared content and with high-quality images, video, and audio as close as your smartphone production costs can be extremely low.


Content Options


Social media posts can include images, video, audio, and text, practically anything you can include in television, radio, and/or print ads can be used in your social media posts.


Reach


Out of the 328.2 million people in the US, 244 million people used social media as of 2018. Social media reaches 74% of the population of the US.


Effectiveness


According to a survey conducted by social media marketing software platform Buffer, 73% of marketers surveyed found social media marketing to be somewhat effective (43.4%) or very effective (29.6%) in marketing their respective businesses.



What social media channels should I use?


With so many social media channels to choose from, it may feel overwhelming. How do you know what social media to use for your business?


Key considerations when choosing a social media channel to promote your store include: target market, channel demographics, and the type of content you want to share.


Target market


Before choosing a social media channel, identify your target market and create a basic profile or buyer persona to represent the type of customer that you want to target with your marketing efforts.


You can create a simple buyer persona by thinking of your best customers in terms of size and frequency of purchases from your business and answering the following questions about them:

  • What is their gender?

  • How old are they?

  • What is their income level?

  • Where do they live?

  • What do they need?

  • When and where do they need it?

  • How do you help them?

After creating a buyer persona, you will have a basic understanding of the customers and prospects that make up your target market.


The next step is to consider the demographics of the various social media channels to find the channel the best aligns with your target market.


Channel Demographics


Demographics are defined by Merriam-Webster as "the statistical characteristics of human populations (such as age or income) used especially to identify markets."


Different social media channels tend to appeal to different groups of people based on the following demographics: age, gender, and income.


Social media software company Khoros has compiled the following demographic data for the major social media channels:




Facebook


Active Users


2.7 billion monthly active users


Age


86% of people ages 18-29 use Facebook

77% of people ages 30-49 use Facebook

51% of people ages 50-65 use Facebook

34% of people that are 65+ years old use Facebook


Income


85% of households with an annual income of less than $30,000 use Facebook

88% of households with an annual income between $30k-$60k use Facebook

81% of households with an annual income between $60k-$70k use Facebook

88% of households with an annual income between $70k-$80k use Facebook

86% of households with an annual income between $80k-$100k use Facebook

86% of households with an annual income above $100,000 use Facebook


Gender


54% of Facebook users are female

46% of Facebook users are male



Instagram


Active Users


1 billion monthly active users


Age


67% of people ages 18-29 use Instagram

47% of people ages 30-49 use Instagram

23% of people ages 50-64 use Instagram

8% of people that are 65+ years old use Instagram


Income


44% of households with an annual income of less than $30,000 use Instagram

45% of households with an annual income between $30k-$60k use Instagram

36% of households with an annual income between $60k-$70k use Instagram

55% of households with an annual income between $70k-$80k use Instagram

46% of households with an annual income between $80k-$100k use Instagram

60% of households with an annual income above $100,000 use Instagram


Gender


51% of Instagram users are female

49% of Instagram users are male



Twitter


Active Users


330 million monthly active users


Age


38% of people ages 18-29 use Twitter

26% of people ages 30-49 use Twitter

17% of people ages 50-64 use Twitter

7% of people that are 65+ years old use Twitter


Income


23% of households with an annual income of less than $30,000 use Twitter

36% of households with an annual income between $30k-$74,999 use Twitter

41% of households with an annual income above $75,000 use Twitter


Gender


50% of Twitter users are female

50% of Twitter users are male





Pinterest


Active Users


322 million monthly active users


Age


34% of people ages 18-29 use Pinterest

35% of people ages 30-49 use Pinterest

27% of people ages 50-65 use Pinterest

15% of people that are 65+ years old use Pinterest


Income


18% of households with an annual income of less than $30,000 use Pinterest

27% of households with an annual income between $30k-$74,999 use Pinterest

41% of households with an annual income above $75,000 use Pinterest


Gender


70% of Pinterest users are female

30% of Pinterest users are male



LinkedIn


Active users


LinkedIn has 260 million monthly active users


Age


21% of people ages 18-24 use LinkedIn

60% of people ages 25-34 use LinkedIn

17% of people ages 35-54 use LinkedIn

3% of people that are 55+ years old use LinkedIn


Income


27% of households with an annual income of less than $30,000 use LinkedIn

3.8% of households with an annual income between $30k-$60,000 use LinkedIn

40% of households with an annual income between $60k-$70k use LinkedIn

49% of households with an annual income between $70k-$80k use LinkedIn

50% of households with an annual income between $80k-$100k use LinkedIn

60% of households with an annual income above $100,000 use LinkedIn


Gender


43% of LinkedIn users are female

57% of LinkedIn users are male




YouTube


Active Users


2 billion monthly active users


Age


81% of people ages 15-25 use YouTube

71% of people ages 26-35 use YouTube

67% of people ages 36-45 use YouTube

66% of people ages 46-55 use YouTube

58% of people that are 56+ years old use YouTube


Income


83% of households with an annual income of less than $30,000 use YouTube

81% of households with an annual income between $30k-$60k use YouTube

80% of households with an annual income between $60k-$70k use YouTube

80% of households with an annual income between $70k-$80k use YouTube

82% of households with annual income between $80k-$100k use YouTube

89% of households with an annual income above $100,000 use YouTube


Gender


Over 50% of YouTube users are female




Snapchat


Active Users


Snapchat has 381 million monthly active users


Age


53% of people ages 15-25 use Snapchat

34% of people ages 26-35 use Snapchat

18% of people ages 36-45 use Snapchat

11% of people ages 46-55 use Snapchat

4% of people that are 56+ years old use Snapchat


Income


32% of households with an annual income of less than $30,000 use Snapchat

33% of households with an annual income between $30k-$60k use Snapchat

31% of households with an annual income between $60k-$70k use Snapchat

42 of households with an annual income between $70k-$80k use Snapchat

39% of households with an annual income between $80k-$100k use Snapchat

39% of households with an annual income above $100,000 use Snapchat


Gender


61% of Snapchat users are female

38% of Snapchat users are male



Content


While the various social media platforms can all handle most types of content, certain platforms are better with some types of content than others and the type of content you expect to share can help guide your channel selection.


Business News and Thought Leadership


If you are working to establish yourself as a leading expert in the fashion or gift giving industry using whitepapers or blog posts, LinkedIn is especially well-suited to the content.


New Products


If you are sharing the launch of a new product or service for your business with an image or short video, Instagram or Pinterest would be good platforms.


Curation


If you are curating a list of gift ideas or collection of websites using hyperlinks, Twitter and Facebook are good choices.


What should I say?


The key to successful social media posting is creating and posting content that is interesting and relevant to your customers and prospects. Be sure to keep content aligned with the tone of your business.


Possibilities include:

  • employee features

  • new products

  • live video of special in store events

  • behind the scenes looks

  • inspirational quotes

  • industry news

  • social media only offers and discounts

  • infographics

  • customer photos

  • testimonials

  • tips and tricks

  • surveys



What shouldn't I say?


Perhaps even more important than what you should say in your business social media is what you shouldn't.


While it is your business and you can certainly say what you want, if your goal is to maximize profits, alienating customers and prospects isn't going to help you.


Here are some things you should avoid posting in your company's social media to get the most benefit from your efforts:


  • complaints about customers

  • complaints about employees

  • angry rants

  • divisive political opinions

  • religious rants

  • fake news

  • trashing the competition

  • personal drama

  • party photos

  • anything illegal

  • risque photos or content

  • anything irrelevant to your audience


How should I say it?


Each social media platform has specifications regarding text, video, image, and audio files that need to be followed to ensure that the content will be displayed and perform effectively.


Social media platforms constantly evolve and change their specifications, check out the "Always Up-to-Date Guide to Social Media Image Sizes" blog post from SproutSocial for the latest specs.




How often should I say it?


One of the key components to the successful use of social media in marketing your business is regular posting to your social media channels of choice.


Great! So what is regular posting?


Here are some guidelines for the major social media channels from popular visual social media blogger Louise Myers.


Facebook


The minimum number of business Facebook posts recommended are 3 per week, with the ideal being 1 per day.


Instagram


Recommended at least once per day to Instagram, with 1 to 2 per day as the sweet spot.


Twitter


The posting frequency for Twitter is higher than the other channels with 3 per day minimum with 15 per day suggested.


Pinterest


Pinterest also should be posted to more frequently with 3 per day minimum with 11 per day suggested.


LinkedIn


LinkedIn postings should be at a minimum 2 per week, with one daily recommended for more effectiveness.




How can I grow my local social media following?


Clearly, the larger your social media following, the more customers and prospects your social media messaging can reach.


The following tactics can help you to build your social media following and amplify your social media marketing messages.


Giveaways and Contests


Giveaways allow prospects and customers to enter a drawing for prizes by following your social media channel and/or sharing a post with their network.


Contests require entrants to compete for a prize. Social media contests typically ask entrants to create original content - photos, videos, essays, etc. - around a product or service that can be shared via the social media channel hosting the content.


Discounts


Giving a one-time discount to customers and prospects for following your social media channel(s) is a great way to grow your following.


Personality


Your customers come into your shop for a lot of reasons, price, selection, location, etc. - but don't undervalue the personality of your store and make sure that your social media captures and shares your businesses personality through your posts.


Signage


Be sure to include signage on your door, in your store window, and at your point of sale to make customers and prospects aware of your social media presence and encourage them to follow you on social media.



Resources


Some great resources to help you with education, strategy, content production, publishing, and measurement include:


Education and Strategy

Content Production

Publishing and Measurement


Summary


Now you have a solid foundation in the basics of social media.


You understand what it is, why you should use it, what types of content to embrace and avoid, how often to post, and some of the tools and resources available to help you educate yourself, develop strategy, create content, publish, and measure outcomes.


Your next step is to take the plunge and begin your social media marketing journey.

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