Roll over, hit the snooze button if you like, but opportunities are there, waiting. It's inevitable – someone in your marketing department is going to ask you how you are including social networks in your plans for the next year, maybe even for the holidays.
Alarm Goes Off
Some highlights from the Gartner article:
- "Social networks are rich in Word-of-Mouth discussions about Retailers and Products."
Over 100 million people are on Facebook, so chances are retailer brands are being talked about there. There are many networks and platforms for consumers to interact. Brands are definitely being discussed, now it's up to retailers to choose (and very importantly, to choose how) to engage in those conversations.
- "Gartner says that retailers must first understand how each of the major social networks will allow them to leverage their [social] graphs. then decide what to do with that access."
Deciding what to do can be challenging – it takes a deep understanding of social networks and a creative digital approach. It also takes a clear understanding of objectives before starting.
- "Social Networks Are Merging Into the Real-Time World — Coming to Your Mobile Phone."
The emerging practice of leveraging the combination of social networks and location based targeting is new but growing rapidly, especially with the adoption of the iPhone and its capabilities.
The article is worth the read for anyone exploring how to leverage social networks in a business context.
Another Wake Up Call
This September, STORES magazine – the official publication of the National Retail Federation (NRF) – decided the growing trend of retailers leveraging and exploring Facebook was worth a cover story. I was honored and delighted to be interviewed by Executive Editor Susan Reda, based upon our study from May of 100 of the top online retailers and their use of fan pages. Susan did a great job outlining the different points of view about Facebook – with over 100 million users now (the article mentions 90 million but was authored a month or so ago), it's hard to ignore the level of reach and access. In the article, I recommend exploring Facebook and learning about it – but in the context of a broader list of objectives for engaging in social media and not for the sake of jumping in. I also caution about interaction with customers – social networks are about connecting and sharing content with friends, not about selling and users can be resistant to "forced messaging."
What Do You Think?
Is Facebook the right forum for retailers? What retailers do you think are leveraging Facebook well? Are you concerned about the invasiveness of advertising? I'd love to hear what you think and your reactions to the two articles above.
photo credit: mcgraths via flickr