It has been a tough year for high-street brands for obvious reasons, and whilst the pandemic has had an impact on almost every business, it has affected none more so than the traditional brick-and-mortar retail store. Almost overnight all stores were forced to close, bustling streets were suddenly empty and regular customers advised to stay at home. Compound this with the fact that recent years have also seen a huge ascendancy for online retail, with Retail Gazette reporting that online retail sales growth hit a 13-year high in 2020.
Digital and social media is king for today’s consumers and it’s this modern reality, more than anything else, that has contributed to the decline of many high street retailers. So, if by the slim chance that an effective online presence wasn’t deemed important for high-street stores before, it surely is imperative now.
An effective social media presence can have huge advantages and many retailers are already making big use of social media by investing in platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest to enhance their brand awareness, generate website traffic and reach their target market to ultimately drive more sales in-store.
Social truly is the new high street shop window, and trends indicate that this is only going to become more prevalent in years to come.
If done correctly, a good social media channel can ensure a brand shows off their products in the very best light, enabling an ability to highlight the USP or stand-out feature of a product to a wider audience that isn’t always available in store. This can often be achieved through showing real life usage of these products through user-generated content from happy customers or through social media influencers, which proves to be a powerful tool to help your target market truly understand the product.
Along with this, social media is a great way to showcase reviews and testimonials from previous customers. Whether that may be for the brand itself, the customer service offered, or for a particular product, showcasing positive testimonials in this way will only benefit the outlook of the brand and help drive future sales.
A huge benefit to social media is the ability to interact with your customers on a personal level, and you can get to know them just like you do in your store. This primarily relates to small stores that have regular customers, of course; global retail chains aren’t going to be able to interact with every single customer on a personal level. Still, if you have the ability to engage personally with people who leave comments on your post, this is a great way to build up that sense of community.
A connected community is one of the strongest benefits you can get out of social media and is a key reason as to why brick-and-mortar stores should be investing in their online channels. This community aspect can also be a very useful tool for real-time customer service. Social media provides the ability to respond to queries, problems and requests by using comments, instant messaging and automatic chat bots, all of which contribute positively towards a more effective and responsive customer service experience.
So, social media is important for high street retailers, but managing a channel with no real strategy is certainly not the way to stick out from an already very saturated crowd. One strategy that has proved to be successful for high-street brands (if used correctly…!) is influencer marketing. Influencers in social media are people who have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a specific topic. They make regular posts about that topic on their preferred social media channels and generate large followings of enthusiastic, engaged people who pay close attention to their views. Therefore, influencers can be used as a powerful promotional tool for brands and their products, although it is worth bearing in mind that the right influencer should be chosen for this to really work. The influencer must be in the right space, or in other words their followers need to be potential customers within the target market. Also, the partnership needs to seem authentic by choosing an influencer that really buys in to the brand and genuinely likes the product or service they are promoting, otherwise, this will be easy to spot and will have the opposite effect.
Many high-street retailers have invested in and used their social media to great effect, and this can certainly be said for low-cost fashion giant Primark. Primark’s lack of a transactional website means that they are able to use social media to their advantage, posting pictures of products and encouraging users to visit their nearest store. During the first lockdown, Primark reported a decrease of monthly sales from £650 million to £0! Yet despite the initial three-month selling hiatus, the stores initially re-opened on June 15 2020 to 5am queues, thousands of shoppers and an audible “how did they do that?” from other retailers. It’s simple – Primark nailed its social engagement. They posted over 1,000 times from April 2020 to June 2020, racking up over 7 million engagements. The brand ensured it was part of the conversation with its customers. So, despite its temporary inability to trade, Primark maintained excitement levels with its customers, positioning its social channels as a go-to place for everything from fashion advice to boredom-busting baking recipes.
To find out how our award-winning team can help you manage and grow your desired social media channels get in touch with us here today.