Retail Wire- Retailers pay attention- 3 Worst Excuses for Retailers NOT using Social Media

10/15/09

BrainTrust Query: The 3 Worst Excuses for Retailers NOT Using Socia...

Commentary by Doug Stephens, President, Retail Prophet

Despite the continued momentum of social media, some retailers are still ambivalent about embarking on their own program. We've noticed some recurring excuses for holding off. Here, in no particular order, are our top three worst excuses for NOT engaging in social media now.

Excuse #1. "We don't want everyone in the store slacking off and Tweeting all day."

If this excuse was valid, companies would also avoid advertising in magazines for fear that their employees would do nothing but read Vogue and Sports Illustrated all day. Your foray into social media is not an invitation to your staff to sit back and relax, and it likely won't spawn a torrent of latent tweeting either. Also, keep in mind that, with the number of smart phones being carried today, your employees are Tweeting, Flickring and Facebooking at work already, whether you like it or not.

The reality is that launching a program may enable you to harness some of your employees' social energy to get the word out about your great store or chain. Best Buy for example, has done a great job of engaging their employees and tapping their social horsepower to actually drive the brand.

Excuse #2. "We don't want people to say bad things about us online."

The fact is that people will talk about your business whether you're there to hear it or not. The benefit to being involved in social media is that you now have an opportunity to curate or respond to feedback on your business. Negative comments are truly opportunities, not only to solve the problem but to publicly demonstrate your high customer service standards. It takes courage to step up and be a part of the dialogue and customers respect that.

Home Depot for example, does a good job of directing traffic, positive and negative on its Twitter profile. It serves as much as a customer service tool as a PR engine.

Excuse #3. "We're planning to get into it at a later date."

Today is a later date. If you look at the time-lines for Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, all three surged in popularity at about the same time in 2008. Here we are almost two years later and their growth hasn't slowed down at all. According to research from Gartner, social media will be adopted by more than 60 percent of Fortune 1,000 companies with a website by 2010. Expect that figure to be closer to 80 percent or higher in 2011. As for small businesses, a recent study by Sage Software and AMI-Partners found that a rapidly growing percentage are also adopting social media as a means to build consumer awareness and connections.

The time to begin a program is NOW

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