When it comes to localizing your global brand, your employees are your greatest asset. They’re in constant communication with customers, taking the pulse of local values and interests. And at the end of the day, cheerful, helpful employees will do more to promote your brand locally than even the sleekest corporate marketing campaign.
But it’s not enough to have a great in-store team. You need to continue the conversation with local customers on social media in order to personalize the relationship and keep your brand top of mind. The British telecom provider O2 recently proved the power of social media by earning £100,000 (or more than $130,000) in media value within six months of launching a localized, employee-based social media campaign.
Still, many companies fail to use social media effectively. They treat platforms like Facebook and Twitter as strictly promotional vehicles and post content that’s inconsistent with their values. You can avoid those mistakes by including your employees in your social media strategy and empowering them to engage authentically with customers in a way that supports your brand.
Corporate Versus Local Marketing
Corporate marketing establishes the overall look, feel, and tone of your brand, making it recognizable across all your markets. However, a local marketing strategy is key to earning strong local footholds.
People don’t just shop at the best-known brands; they shop at popular brands that cater to the local community and are convenient. In fact, one in four smartphone users prioritize proximity when searching for stores on their devices. That’s why local mobile ad spending is set to grow from $800 million to $18 billion by 2016.
But no marketing strategy is complete without a strong social component. Social media serves an important role in driving foot traffic to your local retail stores, and a good social media strategy begins with great in-store customer service.
Research shows that consistently positive customer service is more effective for retaining customers than traditional loyalty programs and general service-quality improvements. In fact, nearly 63 percent of consumers choose where to shop based on how friendly the staff is. People respond best when they connect with employees on an emotional level — which, in turn, creates a positive association with your brand.
By that same token, a bad experience can turn consumers off for life. Seventy-eight percent of shoppers have chosen to not make a purchase based on a negative customer service experience. What’s more, research shows that it takes approximately 12 positive experiences to make up for one unsettled poor experience.
Brands that don’t consider the importance of their day-to-day in-store employees sacrifice quality in their marketing and, ultimately, miss out on opportunities to increase engagement, retention, and sales. Social media recommendations strongly influence people’s purchasing decisions, so the more trust your team builds with customers, the more likely it is that customers will come back to your brand.
[bctt tweet=”Social media enables employees to maintain a conversation with customers, even when they’re not shopping.”] This puts a personable, helpful face on your brand at all times. By building an ongoing relationship with consumers, you make them want to buy from your store time and again.
Getting Employees Involved With Social
Think about your current social media strategy. Are you focusing solely on your official corporate accounts, or are you leveraging your employees’ social profiles and blogs as well? Enterprise companies have approximately 178 potential social assets in their employees’ online presence, but only 25 percent of those organizations train their teams on using these accounts to connect with customers.
That’s a huge missed opportunity. Employees have a vested interest in your business’s success and are inherently loyal to your brand. Given the opportunity and support, they’ll convey their passion to your customers and get them excited about your company, too.
Here’s how to harness your employees’ potential in your local social media strategy:
1. Empower your team
Your employees are on the frontlines of customer service, and they wield significant influence on whether or not shoppers became repeat customers.
Your team knows your brand — and, more importantly, your customers — better than anyone. When it comes to local needs and preferences, these guys are like walking encyclopedias of valuable consumer knowledge. But they won’t use it if they’re afraid of violating company policies or losing their jobs. Encourage your teammates to engage with customers on social media by establishing rapport and inviting them into the store.
2. Encourage authenticity
You want employees to positively represent your brand, but you don’t want them sounding like robots. A social strategy only works if you let your employees express themselves in an authentic way. Brief your team members on the dos and don’ts of interacting with customers online; then let them post, share, and comment in ways that are comfortable and natural to them.
3. Make it easy
Don’t overburden your employees with social media duties or insist that they spend off-hours chatting with customers on Twitter. Your employees have a laundry list of priorities at work and at home, so make it easy for them to participate in your social strategy. Give them a simple app or social media integration system that lets them engage with only a few clicks.
[bctt tweet=”By engaging retail staff as part of your social strategy, you bring more authenticity to your brand voice.”] Customers are loyal to people they know, not company logos or Facebook ads. Your retail teammates are the true voices of your brand, so give them the tools to feel confident and excited about evangelizing to your markets.
Now that you understand the concept, go ahead and learn more. Download our eBook, The New Path to Loyal Retail Customers