SMBMSP #24: Social media and retail

Friday, March 5th, 2010

The 24th Social Media Breakfast was held this morning at Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy in the Mall of America and discussed social media and retail. Heck yes. Two things I can certainly appreciate.

I’ve been to a good handful of these breakfasts so far and I have to say that this one definitely stood out to me. Not just because of the topic, but because the panelists were very diverse, solid questions were asked, and it was at a great location.

The discussion was facilitated by Lisa Grimm (who did a fantastic job) and included the following panelists:

A couple of things I took away from this morning’s discussion:

Allow conversations to happen.

When someone complains about your brand or store, sit back and let the conversation happen. David made a great point when he said, “People are generally reasonable, and unreasonable people will usually give themselves away.” Not everyone is going to agree with what you’re doing and that’s okay. Social media is about creating discussions and allowing people to share different viewpoints. When someone decides to post something negative about your brand, fight the urge to immediately defend yourself and see what happens. Those who believe in your brand will likely come to your defense without your help which is extremely valuable in and of itself.

ROI methods are still foggy.

The question of ROI was brought up, which in the past, has always led to some unsure answers. Many of the panelists discussed the value of tracking the number of followers and mentions to gauge how social media efforts are making an impact on a campaign. But the most valuable method brought up is probably the hardest to track which is measuring engagement. How well have companies responded to consumers, answered questions, and resolved customer service issues through social media channels? It’s certainly important to look at, but how can you translate that into metrics? Most of the panelists said they are still figuring that out which I think is in line with the majority of companies out there right now. Many can see that their efforts are working but struggle to provide the hard evidence to prove it.

Know your brand. Know your message.

Not every social media strategy works across the board. Jeff pointed out that while Punch Pizza likes to give away free pizza, that doesn’t really work for their brand. He made a great point that it’s great to watch your competitors to spark ideas, but it’s even more important to recognize what methods and messages align best with your brand. Giving away free stuff is fun (who doesn’t like free stuff), but it’s not the only way you can to engage followers. And it might not always work with your message.

Overall, I thought the discussion was really well-rounded and brought up some great ideas. Plus, it’s always good to be in a room with this group of people. And to negate my last point, all attendees this morning got a coupon for a free Punch Pizza. Looks like I know what I’m doing for dinner.


One Response to “SMBMSP #24: Social media and retail”

  1. This was a wonderful discussion. I felt that Jeff Sommers –Izzy’s Ice Cream was a little tight lipped but it’s understandable if his social media is still in development. I especially loved how honest Jennifer Rock and Bridget Jewell were with their ‘failures’ and how they learned from them.

    Jennifer & Bridget have a great ability to communicate what they are trying to accomplish, but also touch on their struggles and process behind it all. I think that honesty and communications is invaluable, and they posses them both. We will see much more from them in the future.

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