July 8, 2013
By Craig Davis
Social media has forever changed the way consumers shop and, by extension, it has changed the way that brand marketers are beginning to look at merchandising.
There are more incoming data points to ingest, store, process and interpret today than ever before from social networks, engagement points, CRM and location services.
As brands begin to engage customers online, across various social and mobile channels, the amount of information collected can be hard to digest and use to the brand’s advantage.
The amount and types of data continue to grow at exponential rates, and the real challenge for retailers is making sense of, and acting on, all of this the powerful data.
Turning the page
It is no secret that driving brand engagement is a priority for marketers, but how can brands optimize community engagement through social media?
With mobile shopping on the rise, retailers are taking note and realizing that catering to a tech-savvy customer base requires a smooth shopping experience.
Consumers are using their smartphones and tablets for a broad range of tasks that include checking for in-store product availability, downloading mobile coupons, researching online reviews and making price and product comparisons.
Despite high expectations and a rise in overall mobile shopping, retailers are still struggling with how to deal with this shift in consumer behavior.
These days nearly every brand has a Facebook page and a presence on Twitter. It is becoming harder and harder to find a Web site or mobile site where consumers cannot share, like, post or review a product – all via their mobile devices.
Gone are the days where product selection, packaging, display and pricing are the primary influencers driving consumers to purchase. With social media, consumers have become their own merchandisers.
A tweet with a URL link, leading to a brand’s mobile site, only gets seen by followers who are watching their Twitter feed at just the right time.
Likewise, a post on a brand’s Facebook page only gets seen by high edge-rank users who just happen to have their newsfeed open at the right time.
Unfortunately, this means that only a percentage of followers or fans will see a message and because of this, it has been very difficult for brands to effectively drive traffic to mobile shopping using social media as the sole communication channel.
Alternatively, when user data, generated from social media activity, is used in real time to power mobile channels and enhance messaging, brands can engage with each of their fans and followers at the right place and the right time. For example:
● A check-in at a baseball game can result in an SMS from your favorite retailer with a tailored offer and targeted link to the mobile site
● A brand targets push notifications to users with certain interests who show a higher propensity to click on promotions
● A brand sends incentives to opted-in users who are highly influential on Facebook to share something for a discount on mobile Web
It is important to understand users’ characteristics, behavior, interests and motivations to engage effectively. This is done by using social media as the source, and using other channels to drive traffic to the mobile site.
So what does all this mean?
Because of social, merchandisers have been forced to become more authentic so that their brand can be re-represented in the social graph.
Because of mobile, merchandisers have been forced to look for ways to personalize their engagement points.
FINDING THE MOST engaged and influential consumers and creating personal, cross-channel relationships with them has become paramount.
By leveraging social media with the right tools, the merchandiser can find just the right ways to engage across any channel by knowing their interests, motivations, locations and intent.