Retailers across the globe have supplemented the bricks-and-mortar showrooms of the past and the online stores of the present by putting another arrow in their sales quiver.
Social media – once the domain of the 140-character Tweet, memes, and supermodel influence – has found its footing as focal point of the future for retailers who are looking to connect, convince, and convert looky-loos into pleased purchasers and loyal advocates.
In fact, it’s never been a better time for retail brands to be ensconced in a social media strategy. The public is clamoring for brands to be more transparent and more relevant, with online messages that feel targeted and personal. As a result, well-developed organic posts – featuring honest feedback and breezy lingo – have been more effective than ever in driving sales for our clients and a host of other well-known companies.
YEEZY just worked with GAP and Balenciaga to release a fresh and forward-thinking collaboration via social media where people could go out and dumpster dive in select cities for its newly released collection. The collection was dropped – literally – across the country, was organically documented, and went viral on social media. It proves the importance of realness, newness, and a forward-thinking attitude. If you have all three, you’ll have your customer eating out of the palms of your hands with your social marketing plans!
Just as traditional TV has given way to streamers, digital, and connected televisions, websites are now being supplanted by bespoke Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat content. If you talk to Gen Z or young millennials, everyone is purchasing products, and taking in what their favorite and least favorite retail brands are doing, by scrolling through TikToks, Reels, Snaps, and other social platforms.
“It’s the new-age word-of-mouth marketing,” says Jordan Zimmerman, Chairman and CEO of Zimmerman Advertising. “People post organically to share how they feel, good or bad, and I think that it’s the new ‘best way’ to build conversation and talk about a brand.
“Social marketing is all experience and experiential. You’re feeling it from the consumer’s perspective– which is great because it’s in the first party,” Zimmerman says.
Fortunately, you do not have to be a Yeezy or Balenciaga, or have 38 million followers, to have success. It’s all about the experience, and about knowing your customer base extremely well. Starface, a three-year-old skincare company known for its funky-shaped pimple patches, can trace its rise to fame through its early embrace of TikTok. Now grossing 3,000,000-plus followers on its social media channels, the small brand has taken Gen Z by storm using organic social content to create a loyal, flourishing customer base. They’ve been able to reach a very specific audience by branding themselves online while, in essence, “normalizing” acne for millions of self-conscious teens.
At Zimmerman, our social media experts are challenging clients to get more personal when targeting people at a local level.
As Yeezy discovered with exclusive releases shared online in three select cities, companies, too, can use content similarly – making it Hyperlocalized to a specific group.
“We can use local talent to help amplify the message we are trying to send, or work with local communities to give back as part of our strategy for the retailer,” said Josué Jansen, Zimmerman’s VP of Experience & Content Strategy. “You get to dive into insights from the local community – really understand what they’re up to and interested in, then facilitating and bringing more people into their stories.
“There’s space to think outside-the-box on creativity – to amplify promotions or anything that is going on in our clients’ stores — by using localized social marketing,” continued Jansen. “There’s a big opportunity for us to work with local sports teams, influencers, and get the community excited to see our client in a new light and bring more people to our clients’ local businesses,” he stated.
Getting the combination of newness, visibility, and targeting right is the winning formula for corporate social media – but sometimes it takes the right financial backing for the investment in social to truly take off.
“There’s also a power to paid social media spending. It’s just about using it right. We can still use traditional marketing, but in the social marketing space to make it seem more real,” Jordan Zimmerman expressed.
There’s great influence with paid spend when it’s used to target specific communities, adds Jansen, because “if we’re creating a lot of great content, but the right people aren’t seeing it, then what’s the point. We have the capabilities in the agency and the right talent to be doing even more with paid support for campaigns.”
Aside from adding spend behind paid social posts, it’s important to look at your metrics. Vanity metrics, including views and traffic, are important, but we also need to consider, “bottom-of-the funnel analysis to make sure the metrics we’re seeking are not just vanity based, but performance based,” says Lauren Holliday, Zimmerman’s Director of Experience Strategy.
“Making sure your performance metrics are tangible to the business outcomes and not just a bunch of views is significant,” Holliday added. “We want to see metrics for our clients translate to revenue for the business.”
But what happens if we fall into a full-blown recession? Social marketing – affordable and always-on – will become even more relevant, as long as marketers continue to understand their brand’s evolving and everchanging consumers.
“I come from a marketing research background, and everything we do needs to be grounded on data. Now, more than ever, it’s imperative to know what’s important to the consumer,” Jansen stated. “You have to be able to understand your customers’ needs, where they’re pivoting their focus, and I think social media allows us an opportunity to present them with what they need, when they need it, and in the channels they’re using.”