In order to use social networks to promote retail store branding, it’s important to understand exactly what branding means. In recent years it’s a term that has been toss around in conversation and articles a great deal but many business people have no clear idea of what it means.
The Business Dictionary online defines branding as “The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers‘ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.” That sounds sort of complicated so let’s make it much simpler. Marketing is promoting what your business sell but branding is promoting what your business is in terms of making it recognizable, memorable, and creating loyal customers.
Some parts of your branding include your logo, the look and feel of your store, the appearance of the building itself. Branding expresses the values of the company and their vision of their place in the community, and their place in the world.
A great example of uber branding is Tom’s Shoes. When a person buys a pair of shoes from the One for One Movement selection, a pair of shoes is provided to someone in need. More recently, Tom’s has expanded into providing eyewear to the needed.
Not every business is in a position to brand themselves in such a generous way, especially a small shopping center or mall store. Yet, there are other ways that are just as memorable that can be developed to brand your store. Maybe your shop supports Adult Literacy or the local Walk to Cure Breast Cancer, or any local charity. Perhaps your store offers significant discounts for veterans and elderly or disabled. Perhaps people often say your coffee or pastry is the best in town; that can be turned into a branding element.
However you choose to brand your store, once you develop your branding, you want the local shoppers to know about it. If you also have online shopping available, you want the world to know as well.
Here are some simple ways to use social media to promote your branding:
- Ask happy customers if you can take a photo of them modeling or showing their purchase, if possible in a location in the store that shows you logo. Most people will be happy to do so. Post these photos on your social media sites along with a caption that contains the customer’s statement about what they like about your product or service. If posting on a site that uses hash-tags (those # things that are popping up everywhere to help search social media) be sure to hash-tag your business name and your tagline. You may also want to hash-tag your business name as well. Remember, hash-tags have no spaces, so Tom’s Shoes would hash-tag as #tomsshoes.
- Promote your social networking presence by liking, commenting or sharing posts made by other locals that are appropriate, such as current events,upcoming festival, congratulations to an award winner or any type of post that doesn’t promote your competitor but does show support for the Shopping Local movement that is now trending.
- Tweet news about local area events, especially if you are partially sponsoring the event. But present it as new, not as a promo. Tweet or retweet 2 or 3 times with news or events, things of interest to your customer base, between promotional tweets. Twitter is a major user of hash-tags, to remember to hash-tag your store name, tagline, and location.
- Tweet and post social media messages about shopping locally and include a small map showing your shop’s location. Add your logo and byline to the post or us a photo to provide the same type of promotion and add it to Instagram as well as the other social network sites you commonly use.
- Leverage Foursquare. Foursquare is becoming more and more popular because it focuses on a person’s local area and there is no search to locate what is going on nearby — it’s all right there for the visitor. Build a Foursquare presence that shows our storefront, your logo and byline, some candid shots of doing business such as customers checking out at the register, if you serve food or drink, provide u, photo State what your business values are, how you ensure quality service, what you do to give back to the community, and perhaps even provide a service that is useful to visitors. There are dozens of ideas for services to provide such as the local high school or college football schedule, list of upcoming festivals and their locations (especially if you will have a presence at the event), neighborhood project schedules such as houses for Humanity build dates, anything that reasonably ties to your t products and branding and will be useful to the local consumer.
- Use Foursquare to promote new inventory or services and special sales. You can even check in other stores near yours using showing them on your map and adding coconut comments like “after a snack at Totally Tapas, stop in to see our (new product you want to mention”).
These are just a few of the ways to use social media to promote your retail store branding. Branding helps keep your store in people’s minds and builds loyal customers, so leverage this social media power to your advantage.
By: James Osgood