From bricks and mortar to clicks and mortar: Three retailers that are successfully using social media.
Many brands and retailers have adopted social media as a way to communicate with their fans, promote themselves and their products and act as a customer service tool. There are some retailers that effectively and successfully incorporate social media into their marketing strategy. Here are three of our favourites;
Tesco is a brilliant example of how retailers should be using social media as a channel to provide customer service and engage with their fans. The importance of social media to the brand’s marketing strategy is evident, so much so that their social media guidelines are published online.
With over 1.6 million fans on Facebook, Tesco has a substantial presence on the site using it predominantly to interact with customers. This is evident in its biography which says “Customer query? Tell us on our timeline”
One to two updates are posted per day by Tesco that are based around the brand and its products. However, these updates are not solely promotional; instead they are aimed at educating and entertaining followers. For example, Tesco has recently been sharing recipes and blogs dedicated to healthier eating with all of the ingredients available to buy from the store.
Along with using Facebook to create more awareness of its products, offers and promotions Tesco also uses the site to share brand news. A recent post informed followers that Tesco is now partnering with Diabetes UK and the British Heart Foundation.
Tesco also utilises other aspects of Facebook such as the ‘Notes’ section which they use to publish the terms and conditions of various competitions they are currently running. There is also a app dedicated to customer service called ‘Here to Help’ and an app for polls aimed at improving customer experience.
Tesco has diluted its presence on Twitter by creating accounts for each area of its store. For example; Tesco Bank, Tesco Media, Tesco Mobile, Tesco Food and so on. The various accounts allow Tesco to create more direct and focused messages tailored to each customer segment.
The most popular Twitter handles however are the main Tesco account and the Tesco Offers account. The Tesco offers account is, as the name suggests, dedicated to posting all of the offers available from the store. The main Tesco account, however, is used more as a channel to provide customer service – replying to various tweets from followers. Posts from @Tesco are also used as a way to highlight specific products and services and to comment on relevant topics. The posts are also very light-hearted and often comical.
Tesco describes its Pinterest profile as “inspiring home ideas, delicious recipes and tips for healthy living”. Pins are a mix of content from Tesco’s own ecommerce website and pins from other websites and Pinterest accounts. Part of Tesco’s success on Pinterest is often attributed to the fact that it includes content from other sources and is not simply a vehicle for self-promotion.
Tesco’s Google+ page contains regular posts consisting of promotional content about the brand and its products as well as brand news. Followers of Tesco occasionally use the Google+ page to air grievances and Tesco use the page as a way of resolving these issues. Although Tesco has over 86,000 followers on Google+, the page’s engagement is quite low compared to other platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
In 2013 Next was named the top retailer for social media customer service which seems to still be a large focus of their social media strategy in 2015, along with increasing brand awareness through competitions and promoting products.
With over 1.4 million fans, Next regularly posts to its Facebook profile page– 1 or 2 posts per day- with content that promotes its products, offers and competitions. When asked, many people that follow brands on social media said that they do so for access to offers and competitions- something that Next has clearly considered in its Facebook strategy. Next holds regular competitions for its Facebook fans with prizes selected from its latest clothing lines- a great way of promoting new products and engaging with fans.
The Facebook page is also used to provide customer service as fans are able to post to the brand’s wall with questions or complaints which are then resolved through private messages. The fact that Next does not delete or try to hide any negative comments posted by fans shows that they are using social media to appear as transparent as possible to their customers.
Like Tesco, Next also uses the ‘Notes’ section to post the terms and conditions of its offers and competitions along with any urgent recall notices.
Next has two Twitter accounts, @NextOfficial and @NextHelp. The main account is used to showcase products offered by the store such as items of clothing and homeware, whilst the help account is used to help followers with customer services enquiries.
The dedicated customer service help account works particularly well as support is provided 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, meaning that the response time is often very fast- a crucial thing to get right when providing customer service via social media. Having a dedicated help account also means that the promotional account doesn’t get clogged with queries and comments, detracting from its purpose which is to promote the brand and engage with its customers.
Next’s Instagram account is used as a tool for promotion and mostly consists of advertisement style photos, expressing the range of products and clothing available from Next stores. Unlike some brands that use Instagram to offer a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at their day-to-day running processes and events, Next only uses professional, highly polished images that can also be found on its other social profiles and website.
On its Pinterest account, Next creates boards using products from its own website, products from other website and re-pins from other Pinterest accounts. This enables fans to picture the ‘lifestyle’ of the brand and see how its products would fit into their own lives.
Pinterest can also be used as a wishlist for followers, allowing them to pin products that they want to buy or re-visit at a later time.
Marks & Spencer
In the past, Marks & Spencer has hailed social media as a major contributor to sales and has recently redeveloped its website to incorporate reviews and ratings. Business Development Manager for M&S, Sienne Veit said in a recent interview;
“The social media platform we use will depend on the issue and what we are trying to achieve. We use reviews for product-led customer feedback, Facebook for community building and rich media and Twitter for promotions, notifications and an instant feedback.”
As Veit said, Facebook is used by Marks & Spencer to build a community amongst its 2 million plus followers and share rich media such as video, photos and articles from their website. The content on Facebook is used to promote the brand and products stocked in its stores but it also gives advice to followers, encourgaging engagement. For example, there is currently a healthy eating campaign being run by the brand showing followers the right foods to eat but that can also be bought from M&S stores.
The Facebook page also includes a handy ‘Nearby Locations’ feature so users can see the closest store to them. This is a good example of how social media can be used to increase visits to physical stores and increase sales.
Like Tesco and Next, Marks & Spencer has also utilised the ‘Notes’ section of Facebook to publish the terms & conditions of its current competitions.
Marks & Spencer’s use of Twitter is mostly to inform followers of products and offers but also includes helpful suggestions and tips- much like its Facebook page. Interestingly, unlike the other brands, M&S doesn’t place a large emphasis on customer service with its Twitter usage.
Marks & Spencer uses Google+ in the same way as Facebook & Twitter- to promote the brand and its products. Google+ is also used to promote the various apps M&S offers such as the ‘Cook with M&S’ app which provides recipes and tips for those who download it.
Again, like Next, Marks & Spencer’s Instagram page only show polished images used in advertisements and doesn’t seem to offer any inside look into the brand which is a tactic that has proven to be very successful for others. However, engagement is quite high for M&S on Instagram, with each picture attracting a large amount of comments and likes from followers.
Tesco, Next and Marks & Spencer all successfully use social media to engage with their customers, build a community around their brand and direct people towards their stores both physical and online. Each of these brands has a dedicated social strategy and a team that works to implement it, showing that a brand must carefully consider their presence on social networks if their efforts are to be successful.