Stop Advertising and Join the Social Network

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Stop Advertising and Join the Social Network

Retail Rethink Promoting your products used to be easy. Placing adverts in newspapers or on the radio or T.V. would ensure that the majority of consumers would be exposed to what you had to sell. But, times change, the new consumer is not reading newspapers, downloading their music on to an iPod and picking up their morning TV from their own computer. If you rely on traditional means of getting your message across, the chances are you are communicating with fewer and fewer people. The challenge is how do you communicate with consumers in the future? The new consumer relies on the computer to communicate with their friends via Facebook and downloads videos via YouTube; perhaps it’s time that more retailers changed their marketing strategy and started to communicate with consumers using a different approach. Social Networking The ongoing American Presidential election realises that the blogs going on between people on the net is a major player in the communications game. People are now using their computers to socialise and to find out about products. The chances are they are already talking about your store or what you sell. All you need to do is join in the communications. The web is now used for keeping up friendships as can be seen by the success of Facebook. It is used to make new friends as can be seen by the success of sites like Eons. People who have resisted social networking via a computer are now succumbing to peer pressure and are joining up and as a result the social network is growing rapidly. Tap into the Potential As a retailer, if your customers are using their computers for social networking then they are waiting for you to join in. Victoria’s Secret, the ladies lingerie company have a profile on Facebook as do other retailers and this is working exceptionally well for them. According to Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, the authors of the excellent book ‘Groundswell’ (Harvard Business Press ISBN 13-978-1-4221-2500-7) if you are going to become involved in social network marketing you need to build a strategy based on POST. People – Are your consumers using social networking on computers already? Objectives – What are your goals by having a social network presence? Strategy – How do you want to change the relationship with consumers? Technology – what method are you going to use? Some retailers prefer to make their webpage blog friendly. This is where consumers can talk to you and each other through your webpage. Some retailers prefer a Wiki. The most famous of these is the Wikipedia where there is a separate webpage and consumers keep adding to the content on the subject. This wiki is consumer driven and you may purely be a partner in this exercise. Lego bricks are involved in a very successful wikis operated by adult consumers of their product. Today’s consumers want you to listen to them, rather than you market to them. Social networking programmes allow them to talk about the products and services you supply, they expect you to listen to them and react accordingly. Neighbour Bug Watch In the U.S.A. Neighbour Bug Watch has just been released. This is a wikis developed for consumers to discuss gardening matters. Imagine if you were their local garden centre. Once the consumer starts identifying, for example, a pest problem, you can instantly provide the solution. The viral marketing via the web would spread rapidly. Graspr.com Consumers often want to know how to do things. You could be a hardware store, garden centre, florist or pet store for example. You could link in to Graspr.com. The site, which launched in July 2008 has already 20,000 “How to” videos provided by over 1,200 suppliers. What consumers have is free How to library. To put this in context, your customers could be provided with How to videos that they could watch at home. Your retail store could be the conduit between them and Graspr. The Future The future of marketing will not revolve around traditional marketing techniques. The computer will be the main tool that will be used. Consumers will talk about you via social networking on the web. Your role is not to be the heavy marketer, but to be the best listener and to react to their demands and queries. The technology may change, but social networking via the web will be the way of the future. Action Plan Get hold of a copy of the book ‘Groundswell’ and read it. It will open your eyes to new opportunities. Check out what people are already saying about you through your social networking on the web. Find out what “How to” videos are already on Graspr posts based on what you sell. Start moving forward with your social networking marketing. John Stanley is an internationally recognised conference speaker and retail consultant. He has authored several successful marketing and retail books including the best seller Just About Everything a Retail Manager Needs to Know. John’s retail experience covers hands-on retailing in supermarkets, hardware stores, garden centres, farmers markets and drug stores. For more information on John Stanley and how he can help your business prosper and grow, visit his website www.johnstanley.cc