Featured in Giftshop Magazine: Staying true to your voice and starting social conversations

Featured in the Spring 2017 issue of Giftshop Magazine  Primitives by Kathy was asked to contribute to share our social media business building tips with retailers so see success beyond the sale and increase customer engagement and advocacy.

Check out the issue in full below, or click here to read in the digital issue of Giftshop Magazine.


In a world where customers are constantly being bombarded with content, it is more important than ever to ensure that your message isn’t becoming white noise. With the use of social media continuing to increase, securing the position of the top internet based activity — surpassing even email, it has become a necessary communication channel to your customers. It is where customers spend their free time in search of organic and authentic content and more increasingly where they are going for customer service related activity.

When it comes to interacting with your customers on social media and making most of your time — there are some key considerations to keep in mind: Know your options and choose what fits YOU best There’s no question that your business should be on social media — but that doesn’t mean that every channel is necessary or the best fit. Consider your target customers and what social media platform will be best for sharing your story to your customers. Here are the BIG THREE in regards to retail social and tips on making them work for you.

Facebook —The largest and most widely used of the social networks it is also the most versatile. Your customers can easily share your content with others and it lends itself to video, image and informational content. While free to use and maintain a presence — there is much value to be gained in the paid opportunities within the Ad Manager that allow you to invest in boosting your posts around certain events to expand your reach and more advanced opportunities like creating targeted business generating campaigns allowing you to target Facebook users who fit within the demographics and buyer behavior models you can customize for your business. Meaning, you can be highly targeted and specific which translates into your advertising dollars being effectively spent (and well tracked using Facebook’s easy to understand analytics tools).

Instagram — It’s all about engaging visuals when it comes to Instagram. An Instagram presence is more “curated” than a Facebook feed. Rather than text based updates — it’s the power of the images and short video that translates into success on Instagram. Engaging visuals using filters and enhancements (popular, but not necessary) mixed with thoughtfully designed text-based graphics to announce sales, new arrivals or events create a balance of entertaining, inspiring and engaging content. Using strategic and trending hashtags are a great way to increase exposure. It is a platform better suited for conversations with customers rather than direct selling — strategic delivery of helpful and inspiring content will drive engagement and growth – and ultimately sales. New features like Instagram Stories allow you to post quick videos (shot right on your phone – that’s the best part, no need for professional video, authentic is better) that are perfect for sharing without having it part of your curated feed.

Pinterest — Like Instagram, Pinterest is very visual. The difference is that customers can save your pins for future references and curate their own “inspiration boards” that can be shared with others. It’s easier to monetize items on Pinterest by adding links your e-commerce site (if relevant) to your pins so that it’s a “click to buy” functionality when someone stumbles upon an item of yours as it circulates around Pinterest. The best pins are clear high quality photos, close ups featuring one or two items or inspiration shots featuring a few items you offer. The more your pins are saved onto your followers inspiration boards – the more exposure you receive and the more engagement and sales you’ll see directly from Pinterest.

In addition to these social platforms there are others to consider that, depending on your target customers and type of business, may be more or less relevant:

Twitter — quick updates in 140 characters or fewer.

Snapchat — one of the newest on the social scene, it allows you to create stories that are only available to view for a limited time, but offer a platform for creative and story-driven interactive content (similar to the Instagram Stories functionality).

YouTube — better for how-to videos, informational content, event video — it is a great place to post video of any length — but keep in mind that more professionally edited videos perform best here as opposed to the more organic videos that perform well on other social platforms.

Social media is something that requires a plan. A social calendar or strategy will ensure that it doesn’t fall to the wayside when things get busy. At Primitives by Kathy, we like to keep a loose calendar that we follow — the content of the posts is created organically, but we ensure that our channels are given the attention they deserve and are in line with our brand voice and marketing goals. Our customers provide some amazing content for us that we invite them to share with us using #myPBKdisplay — we’re so inspired by their creativity. It works really well as they benefit from the repost exposure to our followers and we receive their inspiring displays featuring our product to mix in with our own content. It’s a great way to form relationships with customers and make them feel special when they share their content on their page — everyone loves a social shout-out!

Time your posts to when your customers are listening. Do some research on when your customers are using your selected social networks — and consider their engagement timing. Perhaps posting at 10am while most of your customers are working and busy isn’t the best idea — but posting around 7 p.m. while they are settling down from the day is better. Your message will be more effective when you’re having social conversations at the right time — speaking to them while they are ready to listen rather than feeling frustrated that you’re shouting when they are preoccupied.

Social media success is often a slow burn that pays off over time — don’t get discouraged if your social presence doesn’t rack up the followers by the thousands in the first few weeks. Keep creating authentic content and building your following. Be sure to let your customers know that you have a social media presence when they visit you and give them visibility to what they can gain by following you, like notification of new arrivals, contests, exclusive access to instore promos and décor inspiration — (let’s be honest, it’s still about the “what’s in it for me” — even in social).

Social isn’t all fun and games (although we do our best to make it seem that way)! Keep track of which of your posts receive the most engagement and adjust accordingly. If you have an ecommerce website — you can easily check the performance of your channels through your social referral links in Google Analytics. There are reports on sales per channel you can use to analyze your time spent on each channel and turn up and down your efforts depending on your results. The social landscape is constantly evolving so your strategy and content will need to as well. The most important thing is to create authentic content that is true to your voice and presented in a way that isn’t “all about the sale” but rather starting the conversation and keeping your business and brand top of mind. It’s a nurturing tactic that when done well and done consistently, elevates customers to advocates whose natural enthusiasm will spread to others.

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