By Claire Hamblion, Marketing Manager for Supreme Petfoods
Social media offers many opportunities for retailers and is often considered a ‘free’ marketing tool. However, anyone who has used social media will also tell you that if you consider the cost of the time it takes to create a positive social presence it can really add up. Although great content will still reach a wider audience it’s also true that social is increasingly becoming a ‘pay to play’ medium where posts or tweets need ad spend behind them to really get in front of the people that matter.
Facebook and beyond
While Facebook is still the most popular platform, most people tend to be on multiple platforms so don’t underestimate the power of You Tube and Twitter. Different platforms offer different demographics – Twitter users are usually slightly older, Instagram users tend to be younger and Linkedin tends to be used more in a business and career context. Take a look at the latest stats – Pinterest is currently over twice as popular as Instagram worldwide. Choose the medium that best suits your store.
While there are benefits to being on multiple platforms, also keep in mind that more platforms take up more time and it is probably better to be effective on one or two platforms than to spread yourself too thin and fail to make an impact. All your platforms should be monitored at least daily – and yes that includes weekends and bank holidays too. Most people expect to have a question or complaint on social media addressed within 24 hours but ideally within 60 minutes. The longer a complaint exists without moderation on your page the more likely other posters will share similar negative experiences.
Sharing news stories that are trending should help improve your reach. There are several ways to do this. On Facebook and Twitter you will usually see trending stories on your home page – use the relevant hashtags or share suitable stories with a comment. Make sure the stories are relevant to your business and reflect good pet care practice.
Some sites also help you find content –Right Relevance, Mention, Google Alerts and Klout allow you to set up topics that interest you (eg rabbits, guinea pigs, small pets) and can help you track trending or interesting pet stories. You can also actively search on interesting words within social platforms or online – examples could include hay, rabbit news, or funny stories about pets. See what’s going on in your area – sharing stories about lost pets, for example, integrates you into the local and animal owning community.
We’ve created regular events that run on our pages, such as ‘Furry Friday’. This gives the fan base something to look forward to and creates a positive association with our brands. This also helps to provide some structure for the content and reduces the burden to repeatedly come up with new ideas. Retailers can be part of Furry Friday by sharing posts.
Think about creating not just weekly repeating events but an annual calendar with seasonal events and pet related awareness days. By thinking about your content in advance you are less likely to make mistakes or forget to post when the store is busy. This also allows you to pre-load it to be published at optimum times.
Don’t be too ‘fluffy’
Know what you want to achieve from social media. Sharing photos of beautiful animals can of course help to make your page popular but might not do much for your business longer term. Educational content can help raise awareness of issues and problems and the associated products you stock. Create links back to your website or include a call to action such as ‘Buy now’.
Tell your story over several posts so your customers’ understanding builds up over time and include some good photos that help you illustrate the key points. Free design sites like Canva include professional images to buy for around a dollar and allow you to add your shop logo and/ or contact details so they are easy to see when content is shared. You can also create your own memes using this kind of tool. Make sure you mix and match with some ‘fluffy’ content too so your platforms don’t get too sales driven.
As well as follower and fan numbers, track engagement – this is easy to do on most platforms. Work out what kind of content your audience finds most engaging.
On Facebook there are options to boost posts and create ads. Even a small spend of £5 to £10 can significantly increase the reach of your content. Use the targeting options to select the geographical area of those that see your promoted content and also select the areas of interest – such as rabbits, cats or dogs. Be as specific as possible – create content just for rabbit owners for instance and not only will it build your credentials but your audience will be able to share with other rabbit owners in their community.
Keep learning more about what works by going back to the analytics and noting what people are saying when they call about products related to your posts. This will help you produce better results over time. The take home message is that using social won’t magically transform your business unless you apply the same business acumen to it as you apply to all other marketing activities. Sometimes it pays to get serious!