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Can you visualize social media success? According to Sam Sisakhti of clothing retailer UsTrendy, if you’re an SMB that’s not regularly engaging customers on visual sharing sites like Instagram and Pintrest, you may be missing the big picture. Siskahti’s presentation at Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition this week, “Social Media for Small Retailers: Where Size Doesn’t Matter,” kicked off with a challenge to small businesses to leverage social media to level the playing field against larger stores who routinely outbid them in other marketing areas like SEO.

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Get to know your audience

What can you do to get started? Take the first step and understand your target audience: who they are, what they do, where they go and what they value. And it’s not just about how those attributes align to your product or store, but understanding your audience as if they were a real person you were meeting for a cup of coffee or a beer on a Saturday afternoon. What are they really into? Where do they hang out online and what do they like to talk about? With this information you’re more likely to speak to them in the right tone of voice, something Siskahti suggests is critical in engaging your audience through diversification and cross-channel content.

Crafting a sample statement, like this example for a clothing store, may be helpful in crystalizing your persona and expanding your horizons:

“We target young women (ages 16 to 24). In addition to being interested in clothing they are typically interested in makeup and music festivals so we have content dedicated to those areas as well.”

Broadening your expertise beyond your own product not only helps you attract new eyeballs to your brand but also builds trust with your customers, their friends and peers – it makes you popular.

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Can you relate to the cool kids?

And when it comes to social media, being a cool kid matters. Siskahti urged attendees to build relationships with influencers to gain additional insights into your audience and further bolster your awareness. Invite others to group boards and create customized community hashtags. Another clothing-related example used in the presentation was the idea of “Who wore it best?” where you can create a Facebook album or Pintrest board of customers wearing a particular item. You can also create an Instagram hashtag, allowing friends and followers (even those who have never heard of you before) to like, comment and learn more about whatever it is you’re selling.

But what about Instagram? Siskahti’s presentation kicked off with some conversation around visual social media sites like Instagram and how they continues to be an untapped resource by many busy retailers. It’s no secret that a picture is worth a thousand words, and in social media, they’re a powerful endorsement that can not only increase your exposure but build trust with buyers and, ultimately, influence conversion.  Explore including a feed of real customer photos, including pictures shared on Instagram, on your product pages to build consumer confidence and to show the social proof that your products are beloved by others, right at the time a customer may be uncertain about clicking the “add to cart” button.

You can also use Instagram to:

  •         Bring your company’s personality to live with behind-the-scenes photos of office life.
  •         Share exclusive deals on Instagram, creating a quick, easy way to measure your social media ROI
  •         Turn your followers from fans to focus group. Crowd-source questions about your products, events or even your competition.

By understanding your audience, engaging them and giving them the star treatment with social media shares, likes and featured placement on your site SMB’s will not only compete with the “big boys” but runaway with the hearts—and minds—of buyers.

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  • Sean Dawes

    Outside of converting fans to transactions, think one of the biggest areas of opportunity brands miss out on is mining data from their following. You can use them to find out what new products you need to carry, survey them for what you need to improve on, and get product photos that you may not have (ie. customers wearing the clothes so you can show not just product photos but a variety of body types and what they look like on those people)

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