No retailer questions the value of social media in promoting online retail destinations. But it’s tougher for many to see the relationship between social activity and traffic to a brick-and-mortar store. Referral traffic is hard to traffic and can seem to minimal in volume to justify the time investment — especially on social platforms not named Facebook.
But retailers are gradually finding greater value in running an active Instagram account. Not only does Instagram provide an exclusive channel for engaging visual content, but brands can leverage pictures in several ways to build a better experience and even gain more insight into the tangible returns from their social activity.
Plus, Instagram content can be easily shared through other social platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. But we can ignore those fringe benefits for now and focus on Instagram’s direct impact on a brick-and-mortar business.
Share Official Product Photos
Retail stores — especially ones that specialize in a particular category of products — can trust that many of their followers are interested in the items they carry in-store. With that in mind, it’s reasonable for those companies to occasionally share official photos of those products, even providing a little outright promotion.
This simple promotion also offers a chance to gauge consumer engagement. Retailers may consider promoting a new, hotly anticipated item only on Instagram initially, giving those users time to come in and check out the product. Sales associates can work together to track how many come in thanks to the promotion on Instagram. Alternatively, retailers can share a product photo and include an in-text discount just for mentioning the post in the store. Consumers will be highly motivated to take advantage, and that will provide valuable data for the company.
Provide A Behind-The-Scenes Experience
Retailers should bring their Instagram account to places where customers typically don’t venture. As Retail TouchPoints notes, customers tend to be very engaged with a brand when they feel familiar with the people making up that brand. Sharing pictures of Christmas parties, staff celebrations, unpacking new products, attending conferences and appearing at special retail events — all of these can be captured and shared through Instagram, building an emotional connection through the social outlet.
Customers will be happy to attach personal faces to your retail store, helping build trust and loyalty with a local shopping base.
Share Customer Photos, Too
Remember to turn your Instagram’s focus out toward consumers, as well. Pay attention to any hashtags or other tags on social media that mention your retail store when sharing pictures of recent purchases. Customers will love the extra attention, and it can help reaffirm your brand’s trust within the community.
One tip for driving this type of content: Consider running a themed contest for your customers that solicits social shares of pictures. For example, a retail pet store could call for pictures of pets playing with new toys or eating new treats, while a running store could ask for photos of shoppers using their new gear out on the track or on the running trails.
In the case of all of these strategies, diversification is key. Promoting products alone will wear on consumers, and behind-the-scenes photos will lose their impact over time. But by providing a mix of this visual content and publishing strategically to Instagram, brands can continue drawing consumer interest and slowly build a more engaging social asset.
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