Social channels are the new media today.
We all go online when we search for a product or service, want to read the latest business news or check the reputation and credibility of a certain company.
Social media has also become a dominant customer service channel as this is one of the easiest ways for clients to connect with a business and place an inquiry or comment about the product or service they are using.
Social media can be a direct sales channel – with the advancement of payment technology and solutions, retailers can sell via their social media, even if they don’t have an online store.
What are the most popular platforms?
To define that, you need to first ask yourself if you are a B2B or B2C retailer. Then define your target audience: who are they, where are they located, what is their age, income, etc.
These are top five platforms most commonly used by retail brands:
Facebook: This is mostly a B2C platform. In some cases, though, it can be used by B2B businesses. Used by fashion, retail, e-commerce, entertainment, health and wellness, auto and more. No matter what industry you are in, having a Facebook presence is a must as it helps SEO.
Instagram: This platform is best for B2C. Top industries using this channel: fashion, food and beverage, travel and hospitality, wellness, arts and crafts, e-commerce, beauty, photography and more. If you are selling a visual product, then you definitely need to keep an active Instagram presence.
Pinterest: Another platform that's ideal for B2C businesses. Mostly used by retail, fashion, arts and crafts, beauty, home and garden, and more. This platform provides both visual and text information, making it suitable for brands offering visual products and services in the likes of home decoration, landscaping, packaging, hand-made crafts, etc.
Twitter: This platform is good for both B2C and B2B businesses. Top industries include news and information, retail, e-commerce, wellness, travel and hospitality, telecom, finance and more. Twitter is suitable for news, trends and customer service – whenever there is an issue, customers often tweet the business.
Trustpilot: This is not a social media platform but is a customer review platform that any business with online presence should be on. While you cannot directly promote or sell your products and services on Trustpilot, you can generate product reviews that can improve your business reputation, change customer perception and in return increase revenue and customer loyalty.
What to post and how often?
On platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, which are very visual orientated, you can post as often as several times a day, using high-quality product visuals of products, collections or store locations. Mixed usage platforms like Facebook and Twitter provide you with space to post product news and visuals, special offers, case studies as well as to set-up events and targeted ads.
Use email or other social platforms to encourage happy and loyal customers to leave reviews on your Trustpilot page. The more positive reviews you get, the better your brand reputation.
Using social media to create an omnichannel environment
For retail businesses, the use of online channels can help brick-and-mortar stores to build a multichannel environment and sell across different platforms.
For example, you can offer a discount coupon via your social media, which is valid only on purchases at your store locations. Or the other way around – use in-store communication encouraging customers to participate in an online campaign to draw competition on social media.
You can also sell directly on your social media channels through the use of payment links and buttons, placed directly in your Facebook or Instagram page, without even having an online store.
Tips for managing customer reviews
Keep a regularly updated brand profile
When reviewers see a professional presence on a social platform or review site, they may be more reasonable in their reviews, knowing that they are dealing with professionals. Update business profile regularly to ensure it reflects your current product propositioning.
Respond publicly within 48 hours and offer to solve the problem
Statistics show businesses that respond to reviews immediately have a much higher rating than those that ignore them. When addressing the customer's concerns, reviewers will often either delete their reviews or upgrade it up to a 5-star rating if they are really happy with the outcome. But even if you can't reach a resolution, responding to reviews is an effective, lasting way to show the public that you listen to your customers.
Respond in private, too
Exchanging customer details in public is not a good idea, so a private message can help sort the issue and keep the customer on your side.
Get more positive reviews
Encourage and engage happy customers to leave as many positive reviews as possible through planned campaigns using owned channels such as email and customer service center.
Accept the possibility that your business has a problem and escalate the issue
If you keep receiving repeating complaints on the same subject, it means that there is a problem in the product or in the customer service that needs to be addressed so that it doesn’t happen again and again.
Be consistent: A good reputation is not built overnight
If you are new to social media, try all of them and see which one works best for you.