SEMA News—December 2019
RETAILER BEST PRACTICES
SEVEN Tactics for Creating Social-Media Buzz
Generating buzz on social media is one part art, one part science.
You can significantly spike visits to your e-commerce site with clever promotional campaigns, which can generate intense fascination for your product or service on social media. As you’ve most likely seen, such campaigns can go viral and attract millions of visits to an e-commerce site. But even those that are less influential can still bring buyers and increase sales at your site.
Below are some of the more popular tactics marketers use to create buzz on social media, along with the tools you can use to analyze how each tactic is working for you.
Host a Contest or Sweepstakes: Popular since the dawn of commerce, the use of contests and sweepstakes has migrated effortlessly to the web. Sign-up is a snap, and news of exciting contests and sweepstakes tends to pass quickly from one friend to another. In addition to social-media exposure, merchants find they’re able to collect numerous email addresses from participants that they’re able to use for other promotional purposes.
Find the Video Angle on Any Buzz You Want to Create: You’ve probably heard it before: Video is one of the most potent mediums for any sort of messaging on the web. Some retailers use video to develop how-to’s on the products and services they offer. Others use it to invite customers and potential customers behind the scenes, where they meet interesting people in your business via authentic interviews and/or profiles. Still other retailers use video to create quirky images for their brands or to imbue their brand with a sense of humor.
The applications are endless, of course. Just be sure that, in the end, you’re using video in some way to generate buzz.
Create Consumer Anticipation for a New Product or Service: Many a consumer imagination has been captured with stories and videos leading up to a new product or service launch by a retailer. The trick, of course, is to tell the story in a riveting way. You may have the talent to do that yourself, or you may want to bring in a promotional specialist to create anticipation. Either way, you can add to the sense of anticipation by enabling your customers to pre-order the new product or service and be among the first to experience it.
Claim and Use Social-Media Hashtags Associated with Your Store: As Twitter users know, hashtags (#) enable people to organize conversations on highly specific topics on Twitter. Not surprisingly, all the most common hashtags (including #autoparts, #autorepair and #autotech) are already in use, but there are still plenty of hashtags you can invent to create conversations about your store on Twitter.
One of the best ways to unearth such hashtags is to use a social-media analysis tool (like many below), which will identify search-engine terms potential customers are using to find the kind of products that you sell. You may discover, for example, that potential customers are frequently using a search term such as “car battery good price Chicago” to find retailers offering competitive pricing on car batteries there.
Grabbing that search term for your store is as easy as turning it into a hashtag (#carbatterygoodpricechicago) and making a post that advertises your auto retail store under that hashtag. The next time someone uses that search term on Twitter, your auto retail store ad will pop up in Twitter’s returns. Moreover, if the hashtag starts getting additional content and competing posts from other Twitter users, you can stay atop of the feed for your hashtag by making additional posts under it.
“Whatever hashtag you come up with, just make sure you test it on all the major social-media platforms,” said Will Blunt, founder of Flypchart (https://flypchart.co). “It might already be in use for another business or subject matter that you don’t want to be associated with.”
Post During Optimal Social-Media Usage: Determining the best moment to post on social media (in terms of being able to reach the largest audience) is an ever-evolving sport that is part art and part science. Sprout Social has been doing it a while and released a study on what’s working best for 2019 (www.sproutsocial.com/insights/best-times-to-post-on-social-media). Essentially, the report offers advice on the best times for your store to post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Get Help from Social-Media Influencers: We live in the age of the YouTube star, the Snapchat star, the Instagram star and all sorts of other social-media network stars. Virtually all of those people trade on their fame to advertise for brands, and you might as well join the party.
A quick search of social-media networks will most likely yield influencers who make sense as advertisers/promoters of your brand, but you can also use a number of social-media monitoring tools (see below) that instantly identify influencers who can help push more sales your way.
Stay Engaged: After all the tactics, social media is about being social. Not surprisingly, customers and potential customers there respond most fervently to stores that stay engaged with them and care about what they’re posting.
“If you want to really connect with your audience and get them talking, you need to engage,” said Flypchart’s Blunt. “This is more than just regular old customer service. Participate in social-media conversations and respond to comments on your blog posts and YouTube videos. It takes time, but the payoff is worth it when you build real relationships with your audience.”
Monitoring Your Social-Media Buzz’s Performance
Once you’ve gotten the hang of creating social-media buzz, you’ll want to use one or more monitoring tools to analyze which tactics are working best for you.
“Analytics can give you huge insights into your social-media strategies and optimize what you’re doing so you can spend less time on social media,” said Christian Askin, a digital marketer (www.christianaskin.com). “Analytics are built into nearly every social-media platform and are relatively easy to use, and social-media platforms have worked hard so that non-experts can navigate the information easily.”
Below is a rundown on some of the more popular social-media monitoring tools for that purpose.
Awario (www.awario.com): A comprehensive monitoring tool, Awario captures mentions of your store on social media and offers statistics on the growth of mentions about your store, sentiment of those mentions, locations of posters and the like. It also matches keywords for your website with people who are using them, and it displays a list of social-media influencers who can help promote your e-commerce site.
Socialbakers (www.socialbakers.com): Socialbakers identifies the kinds of people likely to buy your product or service by analyzing your audience interest, how your content performs, mentions of your store’s brand, and consumer sentiment for your brand. It will also identify influencers you can contact who will most likely do best in promoting your store on social media.
Rival IQ (www.rivaliq.com): This monitoring service tracks posts about your e-commerce site along with likes, comments and similar activity on all major social-media channels, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. As a bonus, it also integrates with the free Google Analytics (https://analytics.google.com).
Union Metrics (www.unionmetrics.com): This tool will assess how the social-media content you post is performing on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. It will also show you when your customer base is most active. And you can use it to identify appropriate influencers you can connect with to promote your store on social medial.
Union Metrics also tracks social-media trends that you can plug into with your own content, and it will show you how you stack up against your competitors.
Hootsuite (www.hootsuite.com): This is an extremely popular social-media monitor tool. It’s very easy to navigate and allows you to easily schedule posts days, weeks or even months in advance. For metrics, Hootsuite offers analysis of your store’s performance on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, with a number of reports for each.
Sprout Social (www.sproutsocial.com): Use Sprout Social to monitor your store’s performance on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. The tool also shows you how you stack up against your competitors.
Keyhole (www.keyhole.co): Keyhole is designed to monitor your store’s performance on Twitter and Instagram. It generates charts on that data, showing how social-media users are engaging with your store, which posts contain keywords associated with your store, consumer sentiment on your brand, and more.
You can significantly spike visits to your e-commerce site with clever promotional campaigns that generate fascination for your product or service on social media. Tried-and-true tactics include:
Snaplytics (www.snaplytics.io): This tool is designed for retailers looking to closely monitor how they’re perceived on Instagram and Snapchat. Metrics include how your stories are performing on those networks as well as the growth of your followers.
Squarelovin (www.squarelovin.com): This is another nice tool that specializes in monitoring your store’s presence and influence on Snapchat. Use Squarelovin to track likes and followers, measure the performance of your posts, and assess overall engagement of your brand with Snapchat users.
Tailwind (www.tailwindapp.com): This is an analytics-heavy tool specially designed for Pinterest and Instagram. Track your followers with Tailwind, as well as your store’s performance on your boards, repins of your Pinterest pins, likes, user comments and similar data.
Joe Dysart is an internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan.