In her article, Getting More Social with Pinterest®, our Editorial Director Wanda Lenoir discussed the strength of one particular social media platform, Pinterest®, and how you can leverage it (or should be leveraging it) to help increase your business. Social media platforms have hundreds of millions of users and, with user generated content, more ideas than any of us can likely generate by ourselves. All that creative energy is a resource, and if you don’t have the right people on your staff to draw from it, it may be time to reevaluate some staff members.
To help understand how much impact social media has on our lives today, let’s look at one measure of its place in society: if you go on Google and search “social media management degree,” you get back over 266 million results and five of the first six are college or universities offering degrees in social media management. From a Masters of Science degree to a Management Certification, it’s obvious that “higher education” has embraced the reality of social media and can provide complete curriculums about it, how to leverage it, the strategies around it, measuring its success for you, etc.
This begs the question for you, the store manager or business owner: does anyone on your staff have such a degree or certification? If you’re a large enough business to have someone dedicated to marketing or have a marketing team, someone there should be well versed in social media management and how to best use it to help your business and sales grow. That strategy should be written to support and work cohesively with your sales plan, changing with the seasons, supporting seasonal sales, and increasing in focus and effort during your slow sales periods. If you’re a smaller “mom and pop” store, do you hire local kids part time or for summer help? Here’s the good news for you: virtually any person under 25 has grown up with a smart phone and likely has at least four social media apps on their phone that they are beyond expert at the use of. They likely don’t know how to leverage strategy and may not know how to intermix them to the greatest advantage, but they surely know how to use them, the ins and outs, and would be more than delighted to find out you want them to show you… or better yet, do it for you, for pay, on the clock (within VERY strict guidelines and controls).
Most businesses today have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest accounts. Many have Google+, Snapchat and Patreon accounts. Some social media platforms have “premium” levels wherein your users can pay a fee to access exclusive content not available to other users. Patreon allows users to subscribe to your feed for a fee, potentially creating a whole new revenue stream for you that you can grow over time (and by “advertising” it in your other social media feeds). LinkedIn has been called “the Facebook of the professional world,” and you can not only have a presence there but you can use it to cross-feed your other social media accounts and drive people to your website through the proper use of a focus group that you create or through regular article postings.
The other side of the coin (from you using social media to benefit your business) is that ALL social media IS business and can cost you money. Sure, the regular accounts are free to have but they cost time to set up and maintain. They cost you in the advertisements that you will see and there will be a constant push in your feeds for YOU to buy advertising on them. Whether or not you do so is entirely dependent on your business plan, your budget and your ability to create/track/manage such advertising. Advertising on social media is different than traditional advertising so you have to be prepared to understand different metrics of measuring success rates.
Social media isn’t going to go away. It’s likely going to grow even in the already saturated virtual world that exists. People are accessing businesses online now more than ever and if you don’t have the right person on your team managing your social media presence, or worse yet if you don’t have a social media presence, it’s time to do so. Find the right person; write a clear job description; give them guidelines and a budget and “set them free.” Watch them work, see it online and measure the impact it has on your sales, both in-store and online.