Live From Social Media is More Than a Presence

Las Vegas–You’ve got a Facebook Page, you’re Twittering about your product line. But are you really doing anything with those social mediums? According to the annual State of Retailing Online, you’re probably not.

Speaking Sept. 22 at the Annual Summit at Mandalay BayResort and Casino, Sucharita Mulpuru, vice president/principal analyst for Forrester Research, which conducted the survey, said that most merchants who have a social media presence are there because they feel they need to be. The problem is, Twitter and Facebook remain a mystery to merchants, Mulpuru said.

According to the survey results, 69% of the merchants polled are in social networks, including 54% that are on Twitter. But 66% said their return on social media marketing is unclear, 50% are doing it because of the buzz, and just 34% say social media has helped grow their business to date.

“The ones who are finding a value with social media find the same value they do with research,” Mulpuru said. “They are using it to listen to, learn from and engage their customers.”

In the preceding session, Macy’s president/CEO Terry Lundgren said that the general merchandise retailer does use Twitter to engage customers, and launched a Facebook page two months ago that has 75,000 fans. But Lundgren said he never tweeted “on purpose,” though he does have a Twitter account. And he follows what people are saying about the general merchant.

Why doesn’t Lundgren tweet on his own? He said he just doesn’t have the time.

“It’s fascinating to watch people who apparently have all this time to do this… I don’t have that kind of time,” Lundgren said. “Twitter can be here to stay if it remains authentic. But if busy people are going to hand it off and have other people tweet for them, then the authenticity will be lost.”

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