In an ever changing world where socializing is becoming less and less face-to-face and shifting to a technological stance where thousands of people known and unknown can discover personal and worldwide news at the click of a button businesses globally are encapsulating upon that market.
How many times have you been inspired to buy from a company website due to seeing something friend had posted on Facebook? A picture of a burger from a restaurant to tantalize your taste buds? A competition ‘retweet’ to win yourself a prize. These are all examples of businesses implementing a social media strategy to grow their customer base.
How important is it that just like global brands and massive online-based businesses your independent high street bricks and mortar store pushes their social media presence?
Through the use of social platforms mainly Facebook, twitter and the most growing network of the three Instagram potential customers are being reached not only in a local vicinity but worldwide meaning the opportunity for growth is phenomenal and uncapped.
Through case studies and experience of owning a bricks and mortar store alongside owning a completely different online only business it has been an insight into obtaining view points and practices which best suit these businesses. With a mindset that the small family run business can reach a global audience the possibilities are limitless.
Through pushing a bricks and mortar business on the Facebook platform customers are able to ‘check-in’ and rate their destination but the Facebook platform’s benefits don’t stop there. Take ‘Pink Boutique’ for example an online only brand – through clever social tricks such as enticing photographs, funny and relatable quotes and giveaways they have attracted over a 600k strong following. Similarly to this ‘Bows Boutique’ an online and bricks and mortar store they too have a 200k strong following. Broadening their target market to a much larger potential audience than the Hertfordshire area alone. With the click of a button over 200k people worldwide are kept up to date with new arrivals and trends.
Of course some of this is paid advertising which is a large revenue stream for Facebook but in a society, which is, now fixated on popularity which is measured in likes and follows Bricks & Mortar stores are turning to social media to impact on their turnover.
With ecommerce accounting for 150 billion spent in 2014 and a predicted $175 billion spent online in the US in 2015! Stores want an uncapped slice of this ever-growing market. Through coupling the bricks & mortars customers and recommendations this also builds trust in the potential customers who find the brand online.
In December 2014 John Lewis reported a decrease in shop sales, and a large increase in online sales, however stated that these customers were mostly using their click and collect service so the decrease in the shop sales weren’t too impacting on the profitability of the company during the festive period (Source: BBC News). Independent bricks and mortar stores therefore need to build a large online presence to compensate for the decrease in high street footfall. 1 in 5 shop units in the North East are currently empty (Source: Evening Chronicle) it is arguable that with the right online strategy to compliment an offline business would these units remain empty?
Twitter, the Celebrities tool. Used by all the rich and famous and constantly making the headlines this clever marketing tool is ideal for connecting with those with greater followings than yourself, through ‘hash tagging’ companies are now joining in global events and online meetings to discover and promote their brands. It also allows a much more seamless approach into contacting companies, bloggers and even celebrities to endorse your product or business.
Celebrity endorsements are an excellent marketing tool to grow a bricks and mortar store online through social media. This is when goods or services are given to the celebrity for free, they then tweet or Instagram photos and links to the business for their fans to go to. This has a potential reach of millions of target customers that would usually be unobtainable.
The fastest growing social media tool is Instagram and although not currently measured in SEO rankings it allows a visual communication with again global potential customers. This again can be shared with the potentials’ friends through tagging and liking images and once again through hash tagging. This has an added benefit to social marketing of bricks & mortar stores, as it can be an up to date and quirky way of sharing what’s happening.
There are many different positives and negatives to bricks and mortar stores having a large social media presence and if done properly the rewards can be hugely beneficial. Social media’s main resource is time. It is time consumable to build an online presence however matched up with the cost of traditional paper marketing it does not cost the same fee and instead of a onetime hit with traditional marketing the longevity of social media marketing is forever.
In relation to building a brand it can also be detrimental to a brand if not dealt with properly. Customers take to twitter and Facebook to vent their disappointment about companies, putting them in the public domain to often rectify the issue. If handled incorrectly this could lose customers and loyal fans. Handled correctly though social media can be a platform at showing your excellent customer service skills to a wider audience. The same skills that are transferred from your bricks and mortar store.
All in all if a company offline puts efforts and time into their online marketing not only will it help attract customers from the local vicinity to their bricks and mortar store, it will also help keep the high street alive, this coupled with growing an online presence worldwide will also give a potential growth to the business on an uncapped level.