8 Social Media Tips for Retailers

Retail social media | BCBusiness
Customers are already talking about your brand on social media, whether you’re there or not.

How retailers can effectively join the social media conversation around their brand

Retail, as an industry, is primed for social-media innovation. Whether you’re a bricks-and-mortar retailer with one location or a global brand, the opportunities for improving your business—and the risks of falling behind—are nested in a strong social strategy.

Most retailers face of the issue of properly using social media to create real benefits for the business. Seeing value beyond increased vanity metrics such as “likes” and “followers” is possible.

Here are eight steps to help build a social media strategy and make the most of social in all facets of business.

1. Evaluate

Take the time to understand where social media best fits your business and how to integrate it into existing organizational and departmental goals.
A social audit is a great place to start:
Where does your business’s social media usage stand right now?
What do you want to achieve with social and how will you get there?
What resources can you dedicate to your social efforts?

2. Listen and Learn

As a retailer, you already know your customers are using social to research, complain or boast about purchase decisions. Are they talking about your brand, your products or your offerings? Listening methodically to consumers as they voice their opinion is the best way to learn, improve and begin meaningful engagement.

Use a social media management system like HootSuite to monitor multiple social networks and categorize the messages about your business. Look at competitors, see where they succeed and learn from their mistakes. The advantage of social media is that the conversation is an open one that you can join—but only if you’re listening.

3. Engage to Build Community

Twitter and Facebook users value immediacy—more than half of them expect a response in less than two hours. Businesses need to rapidly acknowledge the voice of the customer, whether they are asking for advice or making a complaint. Frequent and innovative interaction on social media helps build active communities of online consumers and advocates.

4. Organize

Empower your staff to engage your customers in conversation directly, and transfer knowledge from digital leaders to team members. Should the desire to scale your social program arise, you have pre-trained your next generation of social leadership. Your social tools should also be flexible: they must be able to grow along with you and facilitate decentralization and expansion.

5. Collaborate and Educate

Encourage your social teams to distribute new learning within your organization. With the help of internal social platforms, maintain an ongoing loop of discovery where best practices and common questions are put forward for collaboration.

As you standardize your education program, consider external certifications like HootSuite University. When a formal system for ongoing social media training comes together, your company can scale up its social activities more rapidly.

6. Secure

Social media blunders make headlines, which makes many business leaders reluctant to spread social duties among multiple employees. But according to McKinsey, 76 per cent of these crises are preventable.

Look into security features offered by social media management systems. HootSuite developed Secure Profiles to provide an extra prompt when publishing to branded accounts, preventing errant posts intended for personal accounts. HootSuite also offers multiple levels of account access, placing limits on which team members can directly participate in outbound social conversation. This functionality puts control over publishing firmly in the hands of those who are most trusted.

7. Measure ROI

It’s important for social data to be relevant to your stakeholders, otherwise it becomes difficult to communicate the real value of social media. Tie social to the big picture by linking it to organizational goals and by building the capacity for measurement into every social action. Start with tracking Likes, Mentions, Retweets or Follows, and grow into using URL shorteners and analytics.

8. Amplify

One of the benefits of good measurement and data is the ability to hone your messaging by understanding what did and didn’t work from a content perspective. When successful messaging emerges organically in social media, paid social allows you to confidently invest in promoted tweets or accounts that have already demonstrated the highest yield.


With these eight tips, you’re better positioned to go forward and succeed in social business. With the next generation of consumers and employees adopting social as their media of choice, the future of retail and the future of social are inextricably linked.


Evan LePage is a social content writer for HootSuite. He contributes to the HootSuite Blog, writes case studies and white papers, and produces content for distribution over social and media channels.