5 Ways To Use Instagram For In-Store Conversions

I am a thrifter. It all started when I was visiting a friend over New Year’s in Brooklyn. He had to work the whole time, so I spent my (freezing) days exploring the neighborhood, which led me to one of my most favorite hobbies…thrifting. I found the most amazing thrift store where I found a slinky silk black dress, fur shawl and very cool red snakeskin boots with hand engraved snakes on their heels. I was ready for New Year’s, and it was all for under $50!

Fast forward, and I am now all over the thrift store scene. I love finding unique items from past decades that no one else is wearing. I might wear a coat from the 70s with a mini dress from the 60s with pearl earrings from the 30s. I’m obsessed.

Enter Instagram. Most thrift stores do not offer online shopping. Shocker, I know. However, they are KILLING IT on Instagram. Why? They have mastered the art of using Instagram to drive in-store sales. Here’s how:

Laser-Focused Targeting

These thrift stores are no joke. If they see you are in Williamsburg, they will immediately like your photo and invite you to stop in. Seems a little stalker-ish, but it works! Suddenly an avid thrift-shopper in their neighborhood is in their store. They also spend a ton of time cool fashion in their city and liking/commenting on each of those posts. Seems tedious, but it is well worth it.

One-On-One Engagement

Thrift stores take the time to engage with their consumers. Unlike corporations that are usually bogged down by a ton of customer service requests, they have the fortunate ability to spend more time in conversation with consumers on Instagram. I’ve seen thrift stores carry full-on conversations with fashionistas about their favorite outfit and how they would style something. Of course, they drop the last comment in there about a super awesome accessory they have in their store that would complete the outfit.

Influencers

Influencers are so important to every brand and easy to find in the fashion world. Thrift shops search for influencers on Instagram that have just the style that goes with their store. They then will offer free products for the influencer to model or close the shop for a day for the model to come in and IG story it, to get more exposure. This is a great way to ensure you are getting in front of the right audience that will be interested in the fashion the thrift store offers.

Deals-Of-The-Day

They will use Instagram as a coupon system. Seriously. They will flash a deal either in their IG story or on their page. It will usually be restricted by time. For example, anyone who stops in the next two hours gets 50 percent off. This works wonders. It not only brings more people to the store, but it encourages more people to follow the store on Instagram. Win/win.

Incredible Photography

Duh. It’s IG. Beautiful, unique pieces that span decades of fashion immediately have gorgeous photo-cred. Thrift stores that are successful on IG make sure to take photos of their pieces in environments where consumers might wear them. It perfectly allows the consumer to imagine where they could wear that piece out, and then they immediately need to have it!

Thrift stores have done an incredible job of using IG to increase in-store conversions. You should take something from what they have learned and apply it to your brand. Social does not just need to lead to online conversions. It also can be very powerful for getting consumers into the store.

– Marji J. Sherman

How To ‘Spring Clean’ Your Social Media Strategy

I don’t know about you, but today is one of the first days it even remotely feels like spring in Wisconsin! I did not know when I moved here that I was signing up for an endless winter. Thank God for fireplaces and hot cocoa. 

This drastic, very welcomed change in weather reminded me that it’s time for me to review some social media strategies I have been working on. After all, ‘spring cleaning’ is not just for our homes. 

One mistake most brands make is writing one strategy (if they even do that) and using it for the year and beyond. First off, props to those brands for having a strategy in the first place. That already puts you ahead of the curve. However, a strategy is only as effective as it is relevant, and relevancy for social media fluctuates just about every other second. 

Strategies shouldn’t only be reviewed once a year, but also once every quarter, if not more. In fact, every time a social media network changes its algorithm and/or privacy terms, that specific channel strategy AT LEAST should be revisited. That means every one of us should be dusting off our channel strategies and rethinking them RIGHT NOW, due to all of the new terms of service being circulated by social networks.

Here are some key parts of the strategy to ‘clean up’ frequently:

Goals & Metrics

I can tell you right now the data changes about to hit pretty much every social media network will drastically change the way you are able to pull metrics. Not being able to pull as specific of metrics will drastically change your goals. After all, you can’t have a SMART goal that you are unable to measure. Get super familiar with the new terms of service from each network, and with the melted down metrics you’ll be able to pull. Then readjust your goals based on what you will actually be able to measure.

Content Pillars

Once goals change, you can guess most every other part of your strategy will need some fine-tuning as well. Content pillars are the core of your strategy. They guide how you are relating to the consumer, what type of community you are creating and whether or not your content is resonating with your audience. These should be revisited THE MOST throughout the year, based on what topics are trending with your target audience and what they are responding most to online. You might think ‘Education’ is a sure win with your audience, but find that they actually are not engaging with educational content at all. Then it’s time to nix ‘Education’ and replace it with a new pillar.

Target Audience Per Network

Your target audience overall will come from higher up strategies, such as your marketing or brand strategies. However, it’s your job then to tailor it to the specific social media networks. Each social media network your brand is engaging with should have a different target audience. People that are heavily engaged on Facebook most likely are not Snapchatting on a daily basis. Make sure you are always up to date with stats of the most engaged audience of each social media network, and then tailor your own target audience for that network. 

Visual/Video Strategy

I am putting visual and video together because they are basically one in the same these days with the high focus on video content. Trends are constantly changing, and it’s imperative that your visuals and videos reflect the changing times. Are your videos the length they need to be per Instagram’s new rules? Do your photos have too much text for Facebook? Are people resonating more with your branded logo-heavy content, or with your UGC visual content? These are all things you need to constantly be asking yourself and then adjust the strategy accordingly.

Hashtag Strategy

This is something I am going to dedicate an entire blog post too soon because it shocks me how many brands disregard hashtags as a ‘thing of the past.’ WHAT?! No way. Hashtags might not have the search engine relevance they did at one point in time, but they certainly are still carrying their weight in the social media world. You should have at least one branded hashtag that you can build brand identity around, and then an approved list of popular hashtags that you engage with for brand awareness. The popular hashtags should constantly be revisited as new trends emerge on social media. **Friendly reminder to research, research, research the current use of a hashtag before popping it into your copy.

 

Hopefully, this post inspires you to dust off your 2018 social media strategy and revisit some key areas as social media networks evolve into this new era of data management. Don’t let your brand fall flat and become irrelevant as times change. Do everything in your power to make sure your social media is on point and up to date. Your brand will thank you.  

– Marji J. Sherman

 

Why We Need To Head Back To The Roots Of #SocialMedia

I’ve been dedicating a lot of my time recently to my pet project, Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said The Last Time I Saw You. I started the project because I hated how many people were reading my main blog (awesome complaint, right??) as it was becoming difficult to write without thinking about what every single person would think about what I had to say. So, I started a second blog that encompassed everything my heart was feeling and told very few people about it. It became a safe haven for me to express my creativity and write about whatever I wanted to with less of a focus on who I was, and more of a focus on what I was writing. In essence, it’s a space where I can return to my roots and truly, authentically write.

As Facebook and other networks are condemned for their (lack of) privacy and tighten their tools that they offer brands who are spending millions advertising on their platform, it’s critical for social media to also get back to its roots >> authenticity and community. When social media began for brands, you did not succeed unless you had stellar content and you were working to engage and develop a community around your brand. There was no cheating by targeting only the people you wanted, or by reading intense metrics and manipulating your copy to only appeal to a very specific audience so they would click on your link. There was absolutely everyone on social media and your content, which you prayed to God appealed to the right people.

As much as social media needs to evolve with the new digital landscape, it also has to remember where it came from and why it works for brands. It’s not because of the fine tuned advertising offers. If you think millions of dollars equals a stellar social media strategy, you do not understand the purpose of social media at all. You are more likely attracting one and done fans rather than building relationships in order to cultivate loyal consumers. Social media networks pulling back on what details they reveal about consumers should not shake a good social media professional. Instead, it should be common sense that incredibly relatable content will rise to the top and help you build a community around your brand.

Here are five ‘roots’ for you to think about as you revamp your strategy based on the newest social media network changes:

Community

‘Social’ being the root word for social media emphasizes the importance of community. It was created so people could talk to each other online, not just so they could be talked to. This is such an important thing to remember that is so easily forgotten. Social media is one of the rare places where you actually can build a community with your consumers and have two-way conversations with them. Even Facebook recognizes how far we’ve gotten away from the community aspect, now requiring advertisers to create more engaging posts that require participation on behalf of the brand AND the consumer. 

Authenticity

Such a buzzword, I know. It’s been so overused in all of the wrong ways that I almost hate even using it anymore, but it is one powerful word when understood correctly. Guess what? Consumers are more technically savvy than ever and they are starting to see through a lot of the manipulation and sketchy contests brands try to pull off on social media. Brands need to focus on supply true content that truly speaks to who they are and who their consumers are. In the current landscape, consumers will respond way more to honesty and personality than they will to sales talk and gimmicks. 

Adding Value

When I started out in social media it was drilled into my head that any piece of content that was published had to add value to the life of the end user. Period. This is still true today, even though many brands have strayed away from this practice. I would argue that it’s even more important in today’s saturated landscape to be providing valuable content that consumers can gravitate towards. It’s common sense, but consumers are more likely to share content that they get some sort of value out of, and we all could use some more shares of our content.

Spending Valuable Time With The Consumer

As social media networks have grown, brands have stepped away from truly looking into their consumers on social media and what they are saying and how they are behaving. They like to lump everyone into one target audience and make assumptions, rather than dig down deep into the people that are responding to their content and figure out who they are and what they are engaging with on social. It is time consuming, especially if you do not have the budget for a fancy tool, but it is amazing what loyalty can be forged when you spend time with your consumer on social media and really understand what world they are living in.

Storytelling

This not only takes us back to the roots of social media, but all the way back to the roots of communication. Think about a bunch of cavemen around a fire, telling their stories. That is how far back this goes and how fundamental it is to effective social media strategies. What story does your brand have to tell? What stories can your consumers share with you? Figure out what they are and create engaging content to tell them to the public. People crave stories, so do not lose the opportunity to connect with important consumers that could become loyal advocates for your brand.

 

It is great to stay on top of all of the trends and the new digital landscape as it transforms how we think about online communication and social media. However, it is impossible to tap into those trends if we lose sight of where social media was born and what its fundamental purpose is >> building engaged communities. 

Now back to writing for my (not so) secret blog… 🙂 

– Marji J. Sherman