The future of retail is all about being available on the device and medium your customers use and that can mean different combinations based on the time of day.  As social media evolves, we retailers must determine where we need to be to connect with our customers.

There are many social media sites available to us and new sites are on the way that focus on specific topics of conversation.  You may find yourself asking where should you begin as we do in that we find we can’t do a great job distributing our message effectively as the number of outlets continues to grow.

The thing we focus on most regarding social media sites is demographics and we conduct research on which social sites a particular demographic uses.  We have found that Facebook is universal in that the majority of our audience have a Facebook account. Now, that doesn’t mean they use it a lot, but most have one.  As a result, maintaining a business Facebook page is productive for us.

With so many other mediums to choose from, how do you make the best choices for your retail business? Let’s say your demographic is tech savvy women ages 18-45. Pinterest could be a great option for businesses with this demo. There is also Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Wanelo, YouTube, LinkedIn, and many more. Do your research and find out where you fit into the spectrum of these mediums.

If you have staff to dedicate some time to the social endeavor, then consider testing as many as time and resources allow?  Constantly test to find what works for your business. Each medium has a different way of presenting information to your followers (customers) and that can make maintaining these sites time consuming, but if you have the time, try it out! Figure out what works and know it may take months of work before you really know if your efforts are working.  It takes time to build quality content.

Be sure to spend a considerable amount of time planning your messaging.  Keep in mind the 4 Basic Customer Needs.  Be clear about this from the beginning of your use of social media. If you sell t-shirts, make that known. Also, remember you want your followers to go to your website. You want them to ultimately be purchasing from your website. Always have a link provided to direct your audience to your site.

If you choose to use many of the social mediums available, try to make them as similar as possible and have links to get to them through your website. Most social media sites allow for a profile photo, as well as a cover photo. Although they will be different sizes, make all of them the same image. You want people following you, or people that come across your site, to recognize your brand. The more they see the photo, the more likely they are to remember you!

Work to get your audience involved. Creating a calendar to help plan and keep track of what your posts is very important. I can’t stress enough how important it is to plan ahead.  Consider starting by adding holidays to the schedule first.  You probably know your marketing schedule ahead of time, so treat your social media posts the same way.  You will eventually spend less time maintaining your social mediums. As the old adage goes, “Practice makes perfect”.

The last thing to remember is to never give up. You won’t start with thousands of followers; you have to work to get there. Keep in mind that views are important; not everyone is going to follow you, but they are seeing your messages.  In other words, don’t get frustrated if it seems that you’re not getting people involved. Try different things and eventually you’ll find what works for your business.