What is the biggest mistake retailers make in social?

Like most brands, retailers have flocked to social media. And similarly, they face a raft of challenges.

From how to be responsive to proving social media’s value, retailers need to iron out what works and what doesn’t on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social platforms.

We asked retailers and agencies at the Digiday Retail Summit in Deer Valley, Utah, for their takes on the biggest mistakes retailers make in social media.

Jim Russell, partner, chief innovation officer, McKinney
Shilling too much without thinking about the why. Retailers need to ask “why” someone is following them on this particular social platform. Sometimes it’s for deals, but sometimes it’s not. For example, we do Travelocity’s “Roaming Gnome” on Instagram and Twitter. He stands for the joy of travel. So he never talks about sales stuff. The worst are cable providers. They put out stuff like “Get ready for the big game today.” It means nothing. It’s devoid of emotion.

James McIngvale, digital director, Gallery Furniture
Not replying to customers — and doing it at proper length. I work for a retail furniture company. For us, we reply to every single thing. Retailers don’t realize that when they ignore people on social media, they’re missing out on turning passive consumers into active ones. The other problem is, retailers aren’t making sure that the people that are tweeting for them are also salespeople. If someone has a specific product question and is asking it on Twitter, they often get ignored because people just don’t have the answer.

Elly Deutch, social media and website services manager, Garrett Popcorn
The issue is that retailers are trying to quantify the return-on-investment from social media. But social is about finding your loyal advocates. It’s not a direct sale all the time. Sure, there are methodologies you can put in place to track social media measurement. But social media is social. It doesn’t necessarily have to be quantified all the time, despite what the higher-ups think.

Kevin Planovsky, principal, account strategy, Vert
Retail is about two things, either e-commerce or store sales. Social media efforts should split it down the middle and be pinned to a goal in one of those two things. Either you’re “pinning” to support local store sales or to drive e-commerce. People aren’t doing that. Retailers need to get more systematic about what they do and not just do it because there’s a particular technology you can use to track it. In my experience, everyone is overcomplicating things. Just tie each social media move to an actual goal.

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