Christian Retailing

Use social media to your store’s benefit PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kirk David Blank   
Friday, 13 March 2015 09:27 AM EDT

Drive sales and build loyalty using Facebook for business

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Stores that use Facebook may have noticed it is becoming more challenging to engage followers on their business page. Have you noticed your Facebook followers have stopped commenting, liking and sharing your posts? If so, don’t worry! You haven’t done anything wrong. They just may not be seeing your posts on their newsfeed anymore because of Facebook’s changes.

Last November, Facebook announced it would begin making it more difficult for brands to reach their fans through organic (unpaid) efforts, encouraging greater investment in ads. Why? Two reasons.

First, Facebook is a business that saw an opportunity to increase revenue. Second, the site surveyed users and found they were frustrated with the amount of promotional content that appeared on their newsfeeds. In January, Facebook began blocking posts that they considered “overly promotional.”

So, what does Facebook consider “overly promotional?” It includes posts that encourage a purchase, enter promotions/contests or graphics that promote specific products or services.

The new policy will likely cause promotional rates to rise throughout 2015. So what can you do to avoid paying a lot of money for ads? Put your focus on brand awareness vs. advertising. Developing engaging content that appeals to your followers and their interests will allow you to avoid Facebook’ roadblocks.

How do you develop more meaningful Facebook content?

1. Use your posts to develop relationships. Spend more time communicating the benefits of the products and services you offer instead of just product and price.

2. Focus on the benefits of the products, the Christian lifestyle and encouragement.

Adopt a 90/10 social media strategy. Make only 10% of your posts related to sales and focus more attention on lifestyle, interest and entertainment for the other 90%. Include strong keywords.

Here are some examples:

Instead of only promoting a jewelry item, offer an article about wearing jewelry to help share your faith.

Instead of just promoting the latest book, share a quote from the book or its author endorsements.

Instead of promoting a specific Bible, share the difference between a study and a reference Bible; or post your favorite scripture from several translations and ask your customers which translation they use.

Bringing viewers back to your page time and time again with fun and entertaining content allows you to build a loyal following  of customers who will promote your business for you.

Search out your vendors’ Facebook pages for useful content and images. Invite vendors to post content on your site, but make sure you’ve established some guidelines first. Tim Vanderkolk has been a great resource for retailers as he posts images and interviews related to WaterBrook Multnomah books. Also visit pages like MTL Magazine and Christian Retailing for author interviews, humorous posts and inspirational memes.

Make the most of Facebook by employing these five practices:

1. Use photos. Photos are the most effective means of driving engagement on Facebook. Give your followers a behind-the-scenes look at what’s happening at your business. Share photos of your processes, like setting up a new display or imprinting a Bible, and showcase your employees.

2. Employ Facebook Offers. Advertise sales using Facebook’s new ad unit called Offers. This ad allows a business owner to highlight their promotions to a larger audience. This is a paid ad, but the first ad is free for small businesses. The ads can cost as little as $5 to reach 1,000 to 5,000 relevant people.

3. Install free apps. Every Facebook page has a banner displaying four tabs at the top right, below your cover photo. While the photos tab can’t be changed, you can customize the other three tabs to highlight applications of your choice, free or paid. Whether you wish to showcase upcoming events, Instagram photos, tweets or an email sign-up form, there are plenty of free applications to use. Start by searching the Facebook App Center.

4. Schedule posts. Schedule posts at the beginning or end of the week to make sure you’re giving your business proper coverage on Facebook, while saving yourself time. Schedule links, photos, status updates and videos, then respond to feedback each day.

5. Interact via smartphone. Answering questions, responding to compliments, dealing with complaints and removing spam in a timely manner are the most important ways to give your audience the best experience possible.

Although it is certainly not a replacement for traditional advertising, social media should be a part of the overall marketing and branding initiatives for every independent Christian retailer.


Kirk David Blank is president of Largo, Florida-based Munce Group, an association of 400 independent Christian retail stores, and publisher of More to Life (mtlmagazine.com).

 

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