Facebook Techniques from Real Storeowners to Help You Connect With More Customers
By now, it’s likely that you’re one of the 1.5 million businesses with a Facebook page. But just being online is not enough. You’ve got to use this social media platform to its full potential in order to gain the most rewards. Beyond posting images of new arrivals and announcing sales, there’s a host of other online strategies you can use to win the attention of new customers. Here’s a look at how three storeowners use Facebook pages to enhance their outreach.
Susan Nethero, founder
14 locations nationwide
EXPERT TIP: Make It Fun – Connect with Customers through Games
Intimacy has turned their Facebook marketing into a game. “Every Tuesday we do ‘Tuesday Trivia’ where we will post a question and our fans will guess the answer,” says founder Susan Nethero. For example, a recent question asked fans to guess what city The Bra Whisperer (aka Nethero) was in. Another week a photo of a bra was posted and fans were asked to name and describe the style. This tactic keeps fans engaged, as they are eager to return and find the answer, says Nethero.
The 19-year-old business also posts open-ended questions on their wall and asks fans to respond in the comments sections. “We ask customers to share stories about their favorite Intimacy experience or tell us why they like their favorite bras,” Nethero says. “The answers we get from those kinds of questions are creative, fun and uplifting.”
All this helps the retailer connect with its customers on a more personal level. In fact, creating—and maintaining—a customer connection is the store’s main objective on Facebook. “We tell our Facebook fans how we’re doing and what we’re up to, then we can find out how they’re doing and listen to how they think we can do better.”
One last piece of advice from Intimacy—treat your fans like you would your friends. “If every post is a pitch about why you should buy our product, then we’re going to lose fans; they’ll get bored,” Nethero says. “If you can’t let the communication flow freely among you and your fans, they’ll lose trust.”
Susan Testa, owner
Los Gatos, CA
EXPERT TIP: Make a Connection – Team Up with Local Business Owners
Susan Testa saw the value of using Facebook early on. She’s been operating a page for her store since business profiles launched in 2007. “Back then I thought it was a great idea,” she says. “I was promoting new products, announcing specials and talking about things we were doing.” Self-promotion remains Testa’s main goal on Facebook, but she balances her newsfeed with non-business related information her customers will find useful like links to articles and information on events happening in the community.
She recently posted information on a wine walk–local wineries set up tastings in independent businesses–that was being sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. Testa thought her customers would be interested in the event, and the extra publicity she created in turn helped fellow business owners. “Not all of my followers are as in tune to the county as I am as a business owner, and don’t always know these events are coming up,” she says. “Putting it out there helps Los Gatos stay a thriving town.”
Testa has also learned that Facebook is a great place to network and form beneficial relationships with other businesses. She recently received help from American Express and Small Business Saturday (which is held the day after Black Friday) when she “liked” them on Facebook. After she ran a Small Business Saturday promotion in 2010, the credit card company connected her with a national magazine looking to interview storeowners who participated in the event. What began as a small in-store promotion turned into national coverage for the store. “All because I ‘liked’ them on Facebook,” she says.
EXPERT TIP: Make it Work – Tap Into Important Customer Information
Kutrovska created a Facebook profile for her store before its doors officially opened last August. “I used it to keep people up-to-date on what was happening in regards to the store opening,” she says. A typical post included information on trade shows she had attend and new brands she was planning to bring in. “We ended up getting a lot of followers before the store opened and I think it helped build excitement,” she adds.
Once the store opened, Kutrovska continued to gain fans and started to use the page to gain customer feedback. “We’ve been in business for a year and mainly gain feedback by talking with our customers as they shop,” she says. “This fall we’re starting a larger campaign to get customer feedback through Facebook.” Kutrovska will post specific questions about sizes, styles and colors and allow customers to answer in the comments section. The Lilac staff will use the information while ordering.
“My main goal with Facebook is to create a community for my store,” Kutrovska adds.
Kutrovska advertises her business’ Facebook page through a digital sign by the register, and she recently added another to the dressing room so more customers will see it. She also mentions the page during check out. “Facebook is not as invasive as e-mail, which many people don’t like to receive,” she says. “If someone does not want to receive e-mails from us, I’ll direct them to our Facebook page. And I notice most first-time shoppers will visit and ‘like’ our page after their visit.”
“My main goal with Facebook is to create a community for my store,” Kutrovska adds. “I have 1,200 fans, which is a good number for a small business. I’d say Facebook is doing its job.”
Aline Machado, owner
Bella Bella Boutique
EXPERT TIP: Make it Unique – Set Yourself Apart with Exclusive Content
Machado makes the most of Facebook by keeping her content exclusive. “If I get pictures from a new collection before any other store I make sure to post them right away,” she says, “Just last week I posted about a London-based line of bra accessories [Brazelle] that’s not in the U.S. yet. I added images of the product to let shoppers know that we’re going to be carrying the line.”
Gaining exclusive product details and images from manufacturers is not always possible, so Machado dedicates a couple of hours each day to searching for related articles, editorial images and videos which she’ll link to on her page. She typically looks outside of the U.S. to find news and features that her Facebook fans have not already seen.
For example, she takes advantage of her South American roots to gain access to Brazilian style magazines, including a recent issue of Vogue Brasil that featured a lingerie-clad Gisele Bündchen. She also sparked a debate among fans through an Australian article on labeling plus size women.
Machado also runs exclusive Facebook giveaways every three months. “You don’t want to do it too often,” she says. “Have a giveaway every once in a while and really make it special. You don’t want fans to think of you as a discount store.” Machado usually offers a prize value of $200 and only invites Facebook fans to enter.
There’s no set amount of time that Machado dedicates social media. “I basically work on Facebook all day,” she says. “If someone asks a question, I try to answer it right away. It’s like answering a phone. If it rings, you pick it up.” Actually posting content takes the least amount of time for Machado. “It’s the research and the follow up that demand the most,” she adds.
For now, Machado is responsible to running Bella Bella Boutique’s Facebook page. And while she’s eager for an opportunity to hand the responsibility over, she’s reluctant to give the job to someone who is unfamiliar with her business and the intimate apparel industry. “No one knows your business better than you do,” she says. “If you’re a small, independent business owner you want to do it yourself.”