by Nancy Shenker for Brooklyn Bicycle Co.
We're thrilled to have Nancy sharing her social media expertise with us. We heard great things about her presentation at Interbike 2016, and reached out to her to write out some helpful hints for increasing your social reach and presence. Hope you find this as helpful as we did!
A few years back, the big question for retailers was, “Do I have to do this social media thing?” Now, the big questions are, “How do I use it to generate sales?” and “What’s next that I need to know?”
And of course, the timeless question is “How do I make time for social media in my already hectic business life?”
Hopefully, you’ll find some answers here.
The Hub of Social Media
The key word in social media has always been “social.” Although you can now advertise on social media channels, people primarily visit sites to connect with others like them and to be educated and entertained. See the world through your viewers’ eyes and make sure you are giving people what they want! As with TV and radio advertising, visitors and customers will tune out if they feel they are being hit over the head with promotional messages.
Here are seven practical tips:
- Understand which consumers are using which social media. Although 79% of Internet users are on Facebook, other apps are gaining in popularity. This is a great source of current trends.
- Create a 90-day plan for social media. Pick “themes” (related to holidays, events, sales, etc.) and carry them across all media. Use your data! Once a month, look at which posts and ads are performing – and fine-tune your strategy. It’s no longer about the number of LIKES or FOLLOWERS you have…be sure to monitor whether people are engaging with your content – commenting or re-sharing.
- Celebrate and shout-out. No one wants to read just about what’s going on in your store or what you’re doing. Include others in your posts. For example, if a local race is coming up, mention it on your sites and tag your social media “friends.” Social collaboration not only increases your reach but will also establish your shop as a business that truly cares about others in your community.
- Social media has become highly visual. The average human attention span is down to 8 seconds. Copy should be short and telegraphic. Use photos and videos whenever possible. Showcase those new bikes you just got in for spring. Or share a tutorial on changing a flat.
- Make it personal. Of course, bicycle enthusiasts want to see bikes themselves…but include people in your marketing!
- Don’t forget e-mail marketing. Although not typically seen as part of the social media toolkit, direct communication with your customers and prospects can still be highly effective. Keep your database up-to-date (or build one if you don’t have one!).
- Now what about making the time for all this? Set aside 15 minutes a day as your “social marketing and communication time.” Use tools like Hootsuite or Sprout Social to pre-schedule content. If budget permits, hire or outsource. But be sure to spent an extra 15 minutes a month reviewing results, deciding where to invest in social advertising, and fine-tuning your plan.
“OK…I’m Doing Those 7 Things. What’s Next?”
- Social video has been popular for a while and it shows no signs of slowing down (although as it proliferates, video clips get shorter – along with attention spans). “Broadcast” live on your Facebook page to create a little extra buzz. But make sure you’re doing something interesting in the clip. Talking heads (except for the band) can be a snooze.
- Smart content can establish you as an expert. Consider writing for a local community media outlet (or aim high and submit articles to national media) on topics like “What to Look for When You’re Buying Your Kid a Bike?” or “5 Great Cycling Adventures.” It will also help with your search engine optimization (SEO).
- Keep One Eye on Where the Market is Going. As millennials age and become the next generation of consumers, they will use social media in a different way from the generations before them. Many millennials have grown tired of Facebook and are veering towards other channels, including chat-based apps. They are especially interested in VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) applications, which are a natural fit for your industry. But more about that in my next post…
Nancy A. Shenker is the Founder/CEO of theONswitch marketing, which brings big brand strategies to small businesses to help them prosper. She also teaches workshops on marketing, cross-generational communications, and digital media and was a featured speaker at Interbike 2016. She is the Publisher of sheBOOM.com, a community for women business owners and a strategic consultant to When I Work, an integrated scheduling system for hourly workers at retailers and other businesses. A graduate of the University of Michigan Ann Arbor and NYU’s Publishing Program, she bikes, travels, and writes in her spare time.