Social media has shifted the power to consumers and given them a platform for their voices to be heard – in real-time. Not only has social media created this opportunity for consumers to voice their complaints and concerns around products and brands – it has also created an environment of transparency, and Retailers and Manufacturers must work harder than ever before to manage their reputation and find new and innovative ways to harness the power of social media to connect with their consumer base.
To gain a competitive edge, the Retail industry needs to listen and analyze these conversations about their brands, their products and industry – to make better decisions about their merchandise, stores, service and promotions – and develop and nurture long-lasting relationships with their consumers and community.
Understand the Retail Social Landscape
Listen to social media to find out where your community “lives”. Do your customers and prospects engage on twitter, blogs, forums or mainstream news? What keywords do they use the most? Maybe they’re discussing “coupons”, “malls”, “stores”, “retail” or “shopping”.
A listening platform will help you seek out these conversations to give you a firm understanding of who your community is, and where they are – this information will be key when you’re ready to engage.
One of the world’s leading luxury watch manufacturers used the Synthesio dashboard to discover the bulk of conversations about which expensive watch to buy, were taking place not on fashion or luxury goods sites, but on automotive forums – particularly those relating to Formula 1 Racing. The luxury watch brand used this insight to connect with their customers by sharing a passion for fast cars through sponsoring Formula 1 events.
Gain Insight Into your Consumer Base
By effectively listening to social media you can find out your consumer’s preferences, behavior, perceptions about your brand, and trends in products and shopping. Monitoring and analyzing social media sentiment can help you fully understand the market reaction to product launches, and help you track and measure the success of your promotional campaigns. By geo-targeting your search, you can focus on what’s important in that region, analyze the effects of your marketing campaign in specific areas, or seek out new potential consumers to engage with.
Synthesio worked with a leading skincare manufacturer to provide ongoing monitoring of verbatim relating to their new foundation. Through social listening, they discovered that consumers loved the product however, said it made their faces a little too shiny. The brand took action with an early launch of a new product in the pipeline – an oil-free version of the cream.
Provide Shoppers with Real-Time Customer Service
Retail shoppers expect exceptional customer service offline and online – and if they don’t get, they’ll tweet about it. By listening for these conversations and helping in real-time – you will turn a negative situation into a winning customer experience, and develop strong, lifelong relationships with your consumers – some will even become active advocates for your Retail brand throughout the social space and beyond.
Kohl’s is one of the most proactive retail brands on social media, reaching out to customers via Facebook, Twitter and incorporating social media for product reviews and shopping assistance into the Kohl’s website for easy sharing.
The Walmart twitter team is also proactive, thanking consumers, inquiring about customer issues with care, and requesting further feedback.
Keep Tabs on the Competition
Monitor your competitor’s social media channels and see what their strengths and where they fall short. Are they engaging with their community? Are they responding to customer complaints? Or maybe they’ve developed some new innovative social campaigns, and now you need to up the ante.
Track your Retail Brand’s Reputation
Your monitoring solution should also track and analyze all conversations and sentiment around your company and industry across multiple social media channels. By implementing a monitoring tool into your listening strategy, and knowing what topics to listen to, you will help your brand catch and address any issues before they escalate.
And depending on the global reach of your retail brand, it may be important to consider investing in a tool that provides vast global coverage and language capabilities. For example, if you have a consumer base in China, you’re missing out on a wide range of opportunities (or issues) if you’re not paying attention to the Chinese sites, like Renren, Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo.