The Social Media Call To Action
Wikipedia define Social Media as:
Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.
OK - that's great, but what can it do for the online business or retailer? I have had many comments about social media, many of which are that people just "don't get it" and so they disengage because it all seems like mumbo jumbo. Simply put, social media can not only give the "instant hit" potential of the sale - but will also continue to promote, even when the customer isn't buying.
Every business that successfully employs social media in a winning format employ three very simple but effective secrets to engage visitors and to get the tills ringing.
Firstly - Getting the interest in the first place. You need to acquire enough followers on twitter or LIKEers on Facebook and in short enough interested parties to make a social media campaign work. Your target is end-users which is why I am referring to Facebook and Twitter. YouTube is also a good outlet, but normally takes a little more time and energy invested to get something that would reflect your brand. What I would say on that matter however is that if a picture paints a thousand words, then a video paints a million - plus search engines love video! Anyway, getting people interested is paramount to the process.
Secondly - planning. Whilst it is great to have people tweeting about the weather and how nice their drive into work was. The reality is that potential customers generally engage when there is something "more" on offer. By that I mean an article on how to plant a tree for example or maybe "The Top 10 mistakes when .....". You may decide to create a series of 10 articles that you can slowly release on your blog and "tweet" that there is a new article. During your series you may decide to employ the simplest, but most effect secret. Having a call to action. By that I mean remember to tell your customers what they need to do and when they need to do it.
An example of this is a retailer who ran a very successful campaign using Facebook and Twitter. They decided to celebrate National Friends day (5th August - if you were unsure) by offering a 20% discount voucher. The offer was for both the recipient and a friend were entitled to the discount if they visited the store together. The offer was valid through August. The campaign was a 3-pronged approach - by emailing their customer database, tweeting and Facebooking all at the same time. This provoked a two-fold increase in shop traffic during August - not to mention a 33% open rate when the email hit the inbox of the recipient - which is very high indeed. This prompted several similar campaigns that yielded increases in footfall and trade over the next 12 months whenever an offer was run. The results were not only because of the initial Tweet, Facebook and Emails - it was because the offer caught the imagination of the readers and went viral in the area. This prompted a mini stampede at the store. Plus, being online meant that once a model was proven to work - adapting it for the next offer was a snap! It was also relatively simple to organise and of course it was very cost effective. This is a great example of a well planned campaign with a clear call to action - come to the store with your voucher and bring your friend - you both get discount.
Another social media-centric idea that yielded a good success was: check in at our store on Facebook - let the person at the till know that you have checked in - by showing your smartphone and get a 10% discount. Now again, this wasn't something that was sprung in the morning and then run in the afternoon. No! This took preparation and planning - but the call to action was compelling. They prepared the Facebook page, they prepared the people who worked on the checkouts and they ran the campaign with the call to action - "Check in before the check out and check out with a discount" - catchy eh? The benefit with this was that they acquired around 100 Facebook followers in the week and subsequently ran the campaign again a month later.
The important point to all of this is that social media WILL make a difference to your business. It will make a difference like a leaflet or website would. Because it is so easy to use and a synch to get started on - people assume it is easy to drive business to their door. But like any form of marketing - taking the humble leaflet as an example - if the leaflets have the wrong information, or the design is awful, or worse still they stay in a box under your desk they won't yield any business either. Like any sales and marketing tool the use of social media "in anger" - i.e to drive traffic with intent and using a call to action - requires planning. Without a clear, time-bound call to action, the campaign will fail.
Many businesses fall at the first hurdle in the "call to action stakes". They fall because they think by saying things like: "we have some a beautiful widget ready for the summer and only £14.95 in store" is a strong enough message. The belief is that it will get people to smash the door down to buy the widgets. Why should they? There was no call to action and no timeframe - so it becomes non-urgent and gets buried with every other non urgent action in our minds. To drive people to your store, firstly ask what would motivate them to come. Normally an event or offer. Then make sure all of the people involved are well versed in the offer. Next, create the offer. Make sure that the actions you want your customer to take are clear, concise and timebound. Then release the offer. With some imagination and creativity your store could be the next viral movement on social media. So take action today and drive social media business to your store now! And yes - if you hadn't noticed that was a call to action too!