Posted September 24, 2010 1:17 pm by with 2 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

Retailers have been using social media to their benefit. It seems, however, as if they took this path not because they could lure more people to them but because that’s where the people were already. Not exactly cutting edge thinking (since reacting to a situation rather than creating a need is less desirable) but it is what it is.

eMarketer reports on a study conducted by the Aberdeen Group that gives some insight into retailers and their use of social media. First, a look at why they are there in the first place.

I’m not sure why this seems backwards but it does to me. The way that the industry reports the evolution of social media in the retail space, it would seem as if innovators were creating great places for social networkers to go and share their ‘find’. It looks like the other way around though according to these findings since retailers had to react to the changing habits of customers and follow them to where they were going.

Less than ideal but that’s the way it happens more often than not in business: react to the change rather than create the new need and inspire the change.

As for social media KPIs (key performance indicators) there is a mix of the qualitative and quantitative elements although true conversion (a sale) isn’t on the list.

So what conclusions can we draw from these findings? Hard to tell since not every retailer has the same profile with regard to their own internal structure and capabilities around social media and just how social media savvy their customers are.

One thing for sure though is that retailers can be led around on a leash by their customers, which is a dangerous place to be because the customer doesn’t always have the retailers best interest in mind.

Your thoughts?

  • Tom

    I totally agree,

    Social media has made a massive difference in my business in terms of sales. We have been on twitter for a couple of years and facebook, we are increasingly seeing getting leads from these sources.

    Any businesses not using social media should start!


  • Hi Frank – Interesting article. I’ve spent a big part of my career working with retailers in the US and Europe and from my perspective there is one very important fact that bears consideration, that is retailers have made huge investments in their traditional channels; including stores, the Internet, catalogs, brand licensing agreements, etc. As a result, they need to find ways to utilize new social channels to complement and optimize for multi-channel outreach. In this economy where consumer spending is erratic at best, they need to leverage all prior investments and find innovative and cost effective ways to monetize the power of social media to build their brand, customer loyalty and competitive distinction.

    That said, as a result of the ability to engage their market through current social channels and emerging opportunities, such as linking geo-based targeting and mobile technology to social engagement, what needs to happen next, in my opinion, is for these big brands to look for more ways to effectively link social media insights to drive more profitable in-store events, promotions and in-line or end cap merchandising with the added business impact that’s possible through social channels.

    Once they begin to arm themselves with the business insights contained in the world’s largest market research channel (social conversation) they will have the ability to improve everything they do. I see retail as an industry in need of retooling how to effectively engage their buyers by linking what they have spent decades and billions to build with the power of emerging social channels.

    Debbie DeGabrielle
    CMO, Visible Technologies