Make connections with your customers before making the hard sell
by Colleen Malloy

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, once said, “Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission—to make the world more open and connected.”

The original purpose of most social media platforms is to connect, whether to keep in touch with friends or meet new people. During the last few years, that purpose has shifted to include connecting with favorite brands or businesses and staying informed about current events.

Shoppers expect to see the occasional product promotion or posts about an in-store sale when following a brand or business on social media. However, the main purpose of social media continues to be connecting, and too much direct selling on your Facebook page or Twitter feed can turn off shoppers.

If you understand how your customers and prospects use social media, you can post engaging content designed to get them to walk into your store or visit your website.

Social media platforms require a strategic balance of organic and paid content to help you reach the widest audience. Crafting strong, relevant social media posts that engage your audience is the foundation of a successful social media presence.

However, the organic reach (the number of people you reach for free just by posting something) on Facebook is only 6.5 percent of your followers. To reach a wider audience—including people who do not already follow your page—you should run social media ads and promote your most successful posts. Paid options are affordable and can help you effectively grow your social media following and reach more shoppers.

To engage both your current followers and the potential new ones reached through social media advertising, you need to understand how and why people use social media. The majority of reasons your shoppers are using websites such as Facebook and Twitter fall into four main categories:

  • Stay in touch
  • Share in real-time
  • Make recommendations
  • Enjoy entertainment
  • Stay In Touch

Staying connected was the key reason Zuckerberg cited for the creation of Facebook, so it’s no surprise that many use social media platforms for that exact purpose. Your shoppers love seeing what’s going on in their friends’ lives—that’s why posts about big life events (jobs, marriages, babies, etc.) get so much interaction.

To appeal to this category of social media user, create content that feels personal and helps them feel connected to their friends and community. By sharing photos of a customer with a new power chair or a new hire, you are creating a personal connection to your store and celebrating these important moments.

You can also leverage this content to make the sale. Sharing content that inspires an emotional connection helps your customers feel connected to you and your store. Get permission from a happy customer to share a photo of them with their purchase, on your social media site, and write a caption to inspire potential shoppers to come in and make a purchase.

Share In Real Time

Your shoppers on social media are accustomed to getting news and updates in real time, especially on fast-moving social platforms such as Twitter. They want to know what’s happening immediately, and they get everything from hard news to updates from friends in real time.

Take advantage of this preference by sharing the latest product announcements and updates about your store. Alert customers when new or updated products arrive and, when you host an event, generate interest by sharing portions of the event live on Facebook or Periscope.

Make Recommendations

According to Socialnomics, 90 percent of consumers trust peer or social reviews, while only 14 percent trust traditional ads. Many shoppers use social media to get recommendations or reviews of products or businesses before making a purchase.

Use your social media pages to build your reputation. To show potential customers that you are the business they should seek out, share your favorite reviews, customer success stories and updates any time you receive an award.

Do not forget to promote your manufacturers, as well. Recommend some of your top-selling products to shoppers. To help them reach your audience and create an even stronger reputation for yourself, share content from the brands you sell.
Your customers know that you are an expert in your field, so your recommendations carry a lot of weight. Your social media feed can help a researching shopper make the decision to not only buy that product, but to buy it from you.

Enjoy Entertainment

For many users, social media is a way for them to pass the time by interacting with the content their friends and favorite brands are posting. Engaging content is a great way to capture your potential customers’ attention on social media. Interactive elements such as quizzes and videos are some of the most popular content types. In fact, according to Reach Local, quizzes were the most shared content type on Facebook in 2015.

To truly engage your shoppers, meet their expectations by posting more than a standalone sentence or two. Instead, share video content. This could be a product demonstration, a tour of your store or a demo provided by one of the manufacturers you carry. Adding an image to a post (such as a prominent graphic to go along with a promo for your upcoming sale) can help get more eyes on your post.

You can entertain your customers while helping them make the decision to buy from you. Share photos and videos to help them envision themselves with a new purchase from your store, or run a contest that gets them involved with your page and your physical store.

Understanding the purpose

of social media and how your shoppers use each digital platform can help you craft content that will guide them along the path to purchase from your store. Creating well-balanced and engaging social media posts that connect with your audience can help you sell more in-store and online.