Social media is changing the face of retail … and how retailers market
On a personal note, this is my 300th blog post for Results Count. People often ask me how I find topics to write about in retail. The simple answer is that retail is changing faster than ever before. One of the most significant changes in retail is the changing behavior of consumers, especially in how they shop and connect via social media. Two of the questions I get asked most often are: "should retailers worry about social media" and "which retailers are most engaged in social media"? Some of the retailers most engaged in social media, and most followed, may in fact surprise you as much as did me. Definitely worthy of the 300th blog post.
Social media in retail … Not a question of "if", but how and where
If you look at any of the current social media stats and research, you quickly come to the conclusion that social media is not an option … it is the wave of the future. One of the more interesting summaries of social media is a video we use in our Retail University classes. It is entitled "Social Media is about People" and can be found on YouTube:
One of the great quotes in this deck of slides is from Erik Qualman:
"We don't have a choice on whether we DO social media,
the question is how well we DO it."
Said another way, retail is the business of reaching consumers where they are. And, increasingly consumers are online. We are at a point where consumers spend more time online engaging in social media than most anything else. And, here's the bottom line stat for most retailers – 50% of the world's population today is under the age of 30.
Which Social Media counts in Retail?
Social media has become so vast and varied that in some ways it almost defies description. The amount, forms and types of social media continue to expand each and every year. Consider the following graphic; these are just some of the more common types of social media being use by consumers today:
But at the end of the day, most retailers are concerned about where consumers spend most of their time, and where do they go to share their experiences about products, and experiences about retail … both positive and negative. Currently, retailers have primarily been focusing on the "Big 5" of social media. Estimates of number of active users at the end of 2012:
150 Million active users
So how do the top US retailers stack up on social media?
If you have been following this blog recently, you know that I highly recommend RCE – Retail Customer Experience. They are a great resource for current trends and topics in retail. They recently published an Infographic on the Top retail brands and how they compare on social media. The data was compiled only for US retailers using both Internbrand.com and Stores.org data compiled through January 4, 2013.
Some would logically argue that "likes" and "followers" might not be the best metrics for engagement on social media. They are, however, at least an overall index of the level of activity and presence of major retailers in various forms of social media. Said another way, a retailer is not likely to have likes or followers if they are not actively using social media pages and engaging in relationships with consumers.
KLOUT SCORE - While followers or subscribers are a macro index of consumer engagement in a particular social media platform, KLOUT is a metric measuring activity across many forms of social media. If you look up KLOUT, you will find that it is touted as a metric of "influence" calculated from over 400 signals from seven different networks. Pardon the pun, but KLOUT has a bit more clout than just a count of followers.
Retail Customer Experience Infographic on Top 10 in Social Media
The space in this blog does not do justice to RCE's infographic. I highly recommend that you check out RCE's Retail Social Media Top 10 to download the infographic in order to see the details. But, from a visual perspective of viewing the Top 10 infographic below there are some very interesting patterns of retailers in social media.
While is it perhaps not surprising that Amazon has the highest KLOUT score, there are some interesting surprises on the Retail Top 10 rankings across social media:
- Both Walmart and Target beat Amazon on Facebook likes
- Lowes, a DIY retailer, is second to Nordstrom on Pinterest followers
- iTunes appears in three of the Top 10 rankings … NOT Apple
- Best Buy is ranked #6 on KLOUT score
- Both Victoria's Secret and Target appear as many times as Amazon in the Top 10
The Social Media game is not over … it's just beginning!
Thanks to RCE for providing an early "snapshot" of retailers engaged in major types of social media. The game is hardly over. In fact retailers have just begun to put their toes in the water of social media and how to engage with consumers. What is clear is that some of the oldest retailers (Sears) and the largest retailers (Walmart) are clearly seeing the power of social media. It is not just the online or ecommerce and digital oriented retailers who are pursuing social avenues to engage consumers.
What is not yet clear is which forms of social media are the winning platforms in retail, or the best metrics to measure them. Clearly putting their entire catalog on Facebook did not prove successful for JC Penny. Consumers don't necessarily go to social media to be "sold to". On the other hand, they do respond to some social media offers. And, they definitely go social to engage regarding their experiences with products and stores. While KLOUT scores are a more comprehensive metric of relationship, retailers must themselves measure both sales results and relationship gains from social media.
One thing that is abundantly clear … retailers do NOT have a choice in whether to engage in social media. Their consumers are already there by the millions. The questions will be how and where to invest to engage on social media … particularly as the consumers go increasingly mobile in their shopping.
- Video: You Tube: Social Media is about People
- Retail Customer Experience: Retail Social Media Top 10
- Social Media Graphic: www. prosintraining.com
- Social Media Logos: Google Images