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Social media now affects more than 36 percent of all purchases in-store, further staking its claim as one of the most influential marketing tools at a company's disposal.
But due to the sheer volume of social media chatter about products, services and the customer experience, it can be difficult to cut through the clutter.
With regard to digital marketing efforts, however, the key is to make it "simple," according to Lindsay Baish, digital strategist for Saatchi & Saatchi X Chicago, during her presentation at this year's Sweets & Snacks Expo.
The goal of effective social media use at retail, Baish said, is to facilitate a shopper's journey on the path to purchase -- gauging intent to buy, making the sale, and securing a customer's satisfaction with the shopping experience.
To that end, Baish presented five simple steps that retailers and CPGs can follow to best maximize their use of social media and capture consumer spend.
Step 1: Figure out where your shopper spends her time and what she's doing while she's there.
Looking at the numbers, 71 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on a social media referral; 73 percent say it's important to read reviews before purchasing food; and 40 percent have purchased something online or in-store after marking it as a "favorite" on Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter.
Step 2: Make shopper-centric content.
"The truth is," Baish said, "most people use social media as a way to curate the best version of themselves so people will like them."
Consumers go online not to be sold to, but to seek out those items that will enhance their image – products and brands in particular. “Make the shopper a part of the story,” she said, “go beyond what they like, and consider what they want people to think about them. Create content they can’t wait to share.”
Instead of a taking a traditional "selling" stance, marketers should work to engage, entertain and inspire consumers with ideas that appeal to this “curated” self, which may then support a purchase conversion.
Step 3: Pay to play.
Although social media is free to use, it costs money to support amplification and reach an intended audience. Consider sponsored Facebook and Twitter posts, which can be highly targeted toward a specific consumer group.
Step 4: Make it easy to participate.
Because social media is so ubiquitous, it’s important to give consumers access to multiple touch points. Include a useful social call to action at-shelf or on-product, Baish suggests, and put valuable content in their favorite social places.
And because a consumer’s cell phone is the most heavily used device, curate content that is mobile-friendly, making it easy to connect with and share.
Step 5: Adjust your KPIs accordingly.
Once a new social media initiative is put in place, Baish said, use the following rubric to judge its performance:
- Engagement: The number of new followers/fans, favorites and pins of products and recipes
- Virality: How widely the message is being distributed is an apt indicator of intent to purchase.
- Advocacy: Closely monitor brand sentiment through reviews, Google and Twitter searches. See what people are saying about the brand.
- Awareness – Monitor impressions, web traffic and the brand’s share of the conversation.
The 2014 Sweets & Snacks Expo brought more than 620-plus exhibiting companies and 15,000 attendees who took part in learning opportunities through keynote sessions, expert panels as well as merchandising solutions on the show floor.