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Social Media Sites Not All Equal

BY CSA STAFF

Retailers have long felt the pressure to get in on the social media game. While some merchants have focused their attention on embracing one or two platforms, many have tossed a large net across various sites. However, it’s no secret that some sites are better suited for retail than others. “Each has its specific role and purpose, and retailers need to figure out how to best leverage them to meet their brands’ needs,” according to Susan A. McKenna, CEO of Winnetka, Calif.-based social media firm McKenna’s Marketing.

Here’s a look at some of the social media sites most applicable to the retail environment (sites are ranked out of five stars):

LinkedIn * * * * 

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for business-to-business retailers. Right now, many merchants are using it for networking, HR recruitment and reaching out to those in the supply chain, from buyers and sellers to product wholesalers. Retailers can benefit from being active in the forums and answering questions from peers. Professionals are often seeking e-commerce, supply chain and other solutions for their companies, and retailers can benefit from reaching out to build relationships or even a partnership.

Facebook * * * * * 

Thanks to so many built-in tools that leverage fan pages and encourage customer interaction, Facebook is often considered the most relevant social media site for retailers. Some companies are taking further steps to reach out to Facebook fans. Target, for example, is now offering prepaid Facebook gift cards that can be redeemed for the purchase of virtual goods through popular games hosted on the site, such as FarmVille and Bejeweled Blitz. The social networking site’s first foray into the retail world is a prime example of how merchants can take advantage of its inherent fan base.

Twitter * * * 

Although Twitter is often hyped as one of the top growing social media sites, retailers are still trying to figure out how to best use the platform. With slightly more than 100 million registered users—and only a small percentage routinely using the site (21%, according to a report by Barracuda Networks Inc., an e-mail and Web security company)—it’s hard to compare Twitter with Facebook’s active user base of 500 million, 50% of whom access the site every day.

“However, Twitter does have mass marketing appeal,” McKenna said. “Marketers successfully use it to send out promotional messages, answer customer service questions and offer exclusive discounts, but the platform doesn’t allow as much creativity and interactivity as other sites.”

YouTube * * * * 

YouTube can be used in innovative ways, including the posting of product video demos. Retailers can also develop short humorous videos that can go viral and catapult a business from obscurity to overnight fame. While the chance of a making a big viral splash is like winning the lottery, it’s worth giving it a shot, McKenna advised. YouTube also can provide value through search-engine optimization; since Google owns YouTube, videos become indexed in Google’s database when tagged with keywords.

MySpace * * * * 

Although many consumers have abandoned MySpace for other social networking sites, it remains very popular among younger audiences between the ages of 16 and 25 and has a strong international presence. Although MySpace hasn’t been able to duplicate Facebook’s behavioral marketing tool, the platform itself offers ample opportunity to accomplish many of the same things as its competitor. It shouldn’t be completely ignored for targeting younger consumers.

Finally, experts agree that since all sites meet different needs, retailers should link social media efforts together.

“When a retailer posts content on Facebook, it should automatically connect to their Twitter account,” McKenna said. “Retailers can do the same thing with LinkedIn. It’s important to link all venues of social media so a brand message can reach an even larger audience and ultimately become that much stronger.”

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Kmart launches Smart Sense

BY CSA STAFF

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. – Kmart announced the expansion of its brand portfolio with the introduction of the Smart Sense line, its new Kmart brand that includes a wide range of items including everything from snacks and beverages, to oral care, paper products, household cleaners and over-the-counter medications. The quality of the Smart Sense line is comparable to that of national name brands, and on average costs 20% less, according to the company.

"With the introduction of the Smart Sense line, Kmart is looking to offer a more affordable Kmart brand product assortment that will rival the quality of more nationally recognized brands," said Mark Snyder, chief marketing officer, Kmart. "While the Smart Sense line will offer the everyday essentials, Kmart is also taking it a step further by providing unique products that you wouldn’t typically expect to see under a store brand."

The Smart Sense line currently consists of hundreds of products available in Kmart stores and the product line will expand to more than 1,200 items by early 2011, the company reported. Kmart said it will also support the Smart Sense line launch through multiple communications channels, including advertising, coupon offers, merchandising displays, sampling, digital marketing and event marketing.

In addition to the introduction of the Smart Sense line, a new look has been created for many other Kmart brand products, the company reported. The brighter and more vibrant packaging has been designed to capture the "colorful thinking" Kmart is demonstrating through its new product and brand announcements. In addition to the Smart Sense line roll-out, Kmart is also introducing products in a re-launch of its other exclusive brands, which include, Little Ones baby care products, Champion Breed pet care products, Image Essentials personal care products and VitaSmart vitamin products.

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Target to open ten stores on 10/10/10

BY CSA STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS Target announced that it will open 10 stores across the country, resulting in the creation of more than 2,400 jobs.

The stores will open in the following communities:

 

    * Sacramento East: 6507 4th Ave., Sacramento, Calif.     * Simi Valley West: 51 Tierra Rejada Rd., Simi Valley, Calif.     * Bakersfield Central: 2901 Ming Ave., Bakersfield, Calif.     * San Jose North: 95 Holger Way, San Jose, Calif.     * Azusa: 809 Azusa Ave., Azusa, Calif.     * Salt Lake City: 1110 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City, Utah     * Little Rock University: 420 S. University Ave., Little Rock, Ark.     * Christiana: 800 Christiana Mall, Christiana, Del.     * Flushing: 4024 College Point Blvd., Flushing, N.Y.     * Braintree: 250 Granite St., Braintree, Mass.

 

“These new Target store openings will help support local economies and make life easier for our guests by creating new jobs, spurring development and providing the utmost in convenience and value,” said John Griffith, EVP property development for Target. “We are looking forward to deepening our relationship with guests in communities across the country.”

As part of the grand opening celebrations, Target said each store will contribute to its community by initiating a local grant program, contributing to the United Way, donating food to Feeding America and product to the local Goodwill chapter and encouraging team members to volunteer their time to serve their community.

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