Holiday Tip: Tap into Social Communities

Communities are an opportunity for brands. This holiday season, consider how you can leverage social marketing to complement other channels, drive better experiences and give your customers the interaction they desire.

Community can be organized into three categories: friends and family, online influencers, and you — the brand.

Friends, family
Shopping “in real life” is inherently social; we’re surrounded by people, we shop with friends for opinions and sales associates hover around to offer assistance. And more importantly, when we’re pleased or get a great deal, we like to brag. Merchants need to be a part of this experience.

Encourage your customers to use a hashtag when they post their purchases on social channels. Then curate these images onto your website into a place where other shoppers can see the exciting images that your own customers have snapped. Zappos has a great example of this with their TweetWall, an aggregated content page that features product tweets from customers.

Also, enable sharing to Pinterest on your website to allow your customers to create visual wish list “boards,” which they can in turn share with friends and family.

There is a large and growing community of bloggers and social influencers that already write about and advocate topics your customers are passionate about. Leverage these people to spread the word about your products.

Do planned outreach — share your products and invite them to review and to share with their audiences. Create a buzz around your products at prime holiday shopping time; hearing it from the people your customers trust will go a long way in amplifying your exposure.

Most people would rather go to the dentist than pick up a phone to dial “customer service,” and email has become an impersonal and sometimes unreliable way to get a response. This leads to questions about products being more frequently directed to a brand’s Facebook page, or to third party forums and websites such as Amazon.

This very public gesture is an indication that consumers need to communicate and need to be comforted. These public pleas also invite others to respond, which is only amplified during the holidays. Be proactive — staff up, find out where your audience is, listen and respond.

Teresa Caro is vice president of social marketing at Engauge.

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