For a while now, we’ve witnessed the huge role social media has played in enabling brands to leverage their fan bases, increasing awareness and providing a platform for owned content marketing. Come to think of it, it feels like light years ago since this was its main premise. However, what’s been more pertinent is the rise and power of the social consumer, and the evolution of innovative social marketing and merchandising techniques.
Retailers and brands who have effectively responded these two trends have been able to keep fans loyal, engaged, and quite frankly, purchase hungry. They’ve converted them into their best advocates and turned them into an indestructible driving force behind social commerce. This sticky-merchant to consumer relationship has become the sole reason why progressive retailers have invested time and resources into this social marketing and merchandising revolution.
550% Increase in the use of Social Media Merchandising
A recent Boston Retail Partners report ‘2014 Merchandise Planning and Allocation Benchmark Survey’ of the top American retailers, highlights that there has been a massive 550% increase in the utilization of social media to facilitate planning for product development. While the report recognizes that social merchandising is still in its infancy, a considerable proportion of retailers are using social media insights to guide their planning – having leapt from 6% in 2013 to 39% in 2014.
Sarah Jones, Editorial Assistant at Luxury Daily concluded in her extensive ‘Retailers just scratching the surface of social media use: report’ that she expects more retailers in the future to do more social research to figure out what they should be doing to “best serve their customers”.
Furthermore, in an interview Sarah Jones conducted with Ken Morris, Principal at Boston Retail Partners, he proclaimed “social media is becoming an imperative marketing and merchandising tool for retailers”.
Developing a Social Retail Model
The retail environment is one of the most competitive and evolving industries on the planet. It is therefore important for retailers to develop an innovative model for effective social marketing, merchandising and planning. Why not consider taking these 3 simple, but effective, steps:
1. Analyze your social data to plan product lines
By using social tagging, you can individually analyze the content preferences of your online consumers over a lifetime period, in real-time. Tag your posts and updates on social networks like Google+, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram with a taxonomy of your choice. Then see which content themes and products get the most reach, engagement and resonance. With this actionable data, you can then effectively plan and adapt product type, quantity and placement with timely precision – through multiple digital channels.
2. Turn your website into a social selling hub
Harnessing user-generated content (UGC) from your best advocates is a sure-fire way to help market and sell your products via your website. Two thirds of the content in the ‘digital universe’ is created by consumers, not corporations. And, research suggests that consumers are far more influenced by credible and authentic content created by their peers, over glossy imagery created by brands. So, take advantage of your consumers’ compelling UGC, and reap the rewards.
3. Showcase your influencers in-store
Implementing in-store social displays with curated consumer content provides a fun, tailored and interactive shopping experience. Retailers now have the infrastructure to re-assure shoppers that they’ll look great in the outfit by ‘selling the look’ or ‘completing the package’ the social way in-store, and encouraging a higher volume and value of transactions through the checkout.
As we step into 2015, there’s now a window of opportunity for retailers to start capturing, analyzing and marketing consumer generated data and content to help better optimize product performance, engagement and to drive socially-referred commerce for seasons to come.
To learn more, why not check out our latest white paper to discover the fundamental impact user generated content is having on consumer brands (and what you should be doing about it).
Plus, sign up to our free newsletter to receive our next white paper instalment on retail: driving social commerce.
Free White Paper
Discover how brands are reacting to the explosion in UGC and how they’re turning their best customers into their best marketers by driving audience acquisitions and boosting engagement.