Author: Zafar Rais, CEO, MindShift Interactive
The onset of online shopping has created a revolution in the retail sector. Customers can now browse multiple items at a number of stores, all while seated in the comfort of their homes. In this scenario, consumer behaviour towards online shopping or browsing has drastically evolved to more than just concrete facts or somebody else’s opinion; it’s now a hobby and you could also call it a passion for some eCommerce connoisseurs.
With a plethora of options available for the consumer to seek information on and gain feedback about, it becomes increasingly important for brands to not only be present but make them stand out on social media. Brands can tap into potential online shoppers and form lucrative pull strategies to get them offline as well. The electronics, apparel and home décor sector have been aggressively using social media towards driving footfalls and awareness about their offerings.
Here are 6 ways to engage with shoppers through social media:
1. Create outstanding content
Consumers are the key factor of any business, and it is important to gain insights on their preferences before creating anything for them. When building a brand on a social media platform, the important task lies in keeping customers engaged and ensuring they remember you. The brand must generate exciting, relevant content that will help build a profitable, long-term relationship. Utilizing beautiful editorial content on your platform which is tailored to the requirements of each platform will ensure your brand stands out for what it is meant to be. Michael Kors does a great job of highlighting their products through videos, look-books and more, while Lancôme India showcases a true visual journey that represents the lifestyle and usage of their consumers via Instagram. A shopper is constantly looking for new and exciting offerings on social media hence it’s important to grab their attention through leveraging new and exciting tools such as GIFs, emojis, infographics. Brands that stay away from a hard sell and focus upon providing a user with information and an experience of their brand tend to be the winners as far as sales and awareness is concerned.
2. Provide a seamless experience
An experience you receive when shopping in a store must be replicated online as well. The experience of shopping is one that’s fun, relieves stress and is enjoyed with friends. Ensure that your shoppers are treated with the same experience and guidance. If you’re able to showcase your products, share adequate information about them and converse with your customers to resolve any queries they may have, whilst also guiding them towards the final sale, you have a customer who will not only buy or come back, but will also recommend you to others. Most brands catering to online shoppers tend to offer special discounts but very few have been able to crack an experience from social media to the store level, providing special incentives for customers that come through social media. Kiehl’s India has done various successful promotions through their loyal fans in the past, recognizing them as #FriendsOfKiehls and inviting them for offline experiences to the storefront.
3. Recognize and appreciate your Fans
A powerful tool on social media is user-recognition. Highlighting active Fans, responding and thanking them, appreciating content by them are means of appreciating your fans. The more you nurture the audience you’ve built, the easier it will be to make them evangelists of your brand. User Generated Content is one of the strongest forms of content on social media and brands that have mastered content creation by fans have seen the viral impact by it. GoPro uploads content that has been shared only by their fans on their social media platforms, making it a matter of pride for fans and an inspiration for others to click better. JW Marriott Juhu reposts experiences by guests of the hotel as a form of showcasing their property through their guests, whilst also highlighting testimonials from their guests.
4. Create meaningful conversations
Social Media Marketing is only successful when brands build a two-way communication with customers. For building a good rapport with your consumers, address their complaints with an aim to resolve it in the fastest possible way. When a customer shares an enquiry, ensure you engage him/her into a dialogue rather than just a response. When you’re able to strike a connection with your prospective customer, he/she will remember you at all times as someone he/she can turn to. Uber India has an excellent customer engagement methodology which strikes a balance between being witty and being able to resolve the query at hand. This has gone a long way for them with people re-tweeting and sharing their replies.
5. Show your followers some love
Similar to loyalty cards, gratify your fans and lure in new ones through constant offers, deals and gratifications. This keeps them engaged and increases your outreach further too. Whether it’s a freebie, a contest or even a #FollowFriday shout-out, gratifying customers for their loyalty is a win-win situation for both sides. When practiced regularly and if done right, brands witness an increase in engagement, sustained growth in brand loyalty and high impact advocacy too.
6. Utilize the power of Influencer Relationships
Influencer relationships have been pioneered by brands such as Lancôme India to reach their marketing objectives and build evangelism in a cluttered market. Offering in-store experiences to social media influencers and active fans and followers has been a successful means for brands such as Lancôme India to engage and increase word of mouth through influential experts within the beauty, lifestyle and luxury sector. Engaging with influencers helps increase awareness and adds further credibility to your brand. Splash Fashion engaged with influencers to pick their favourite looks from the store and upload them across their social media presence. Their looks were further promoted across the brand’s social media profiles in order to mentor fans on the latest styling tips and tricks. With the help of an influencer’s network, brands have managed to attract newer audiences, outside the standard target audience and result in a recognizable jump in sales too.
Social media has grown into a platform for people to form opinions and gain insights into what’s best for them. A brand must constantly adapt onto new platforms, topical content and new tools that social media offers in order to be relevant at all times. Consumers spend hours on each platform; absorbing fresh content, and a brand that is able to make itself stand out through innovative and insightful strategy will prove to be the brand that is remembered, spoken of and that gets a high level of returns. In this dynamic arena of social media, the brand which adapts quickly grows. Take the lead, brands!
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