5 ways to use Social Media to find success in 2011

Crystal Vilkaitis high res[1]It’s that time a year again: new products, new deals, new themes, new marketing and of course, New Year’s resolutions!

In 2010, if you didn’t use social networks like Twitter and Facebook to market your store, network with your community and find ways to grow your business, then that’s ok. It’s ok because in 2011 you’re going to do things differently. You’re going to embrace social media and use it as a daily tool to help you grow, learn and succeed! (If you did use social media in 2010, leave a comment on how it helped your business; also assess what worked and what didn’t, then make a 2011 Plan of Social Media Action.)

To get started, here are 5 ways to use social media to ensure a successful show this January.

1. Pictures! If you don’t have a phone with a built in camera, make sure you bring your digital camera to the show because you’re going to want to make your customers so excited for your new products they can’t stand it! Take pictures of some new items or lines you bought at market. Post to your Facebook page and let your networks know that in a matter of days they could get their hands on those items. Posting pictures of the showrooms and people shopping at market is also a great way to let your customers in on your business, taking your relationship with them deeper.

2. Follow Vendors and Sales Agencies. The best way to stay up-to-date at market is to be monitoring your favorite vendors and sales agencies on Twitter and Facebook. You might even find show specials posted on their social media outlets. To find their accounts (if you don’t know them already) visit their websites, go to search.twitter.com and enter the company name or try Googling their name +Twitter.

3. Hashtags! You might not know what a hashtag is, so let me first explain.  Hashtags were developed as a means to create “groupings” on Twitter. Through these you can tag a post with a keyword so it can be found or referred to later. You create a hashtag simply by prefixing a word with a hash symbol:  #hashtag. Here are a few examples:

via @AmericasMartATL: AmericasMart launches HD Home juried home furnishings/lifestyle collection: http://bit.ly/hFp0ty #atlmart

Via @AlexasAngles: “To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful.” #quote

Via @snapretail: Cute Displays for the #Holiday Season http://ht.ly/3ipaP #retail#marketing

4. Connect with other retailers. Running a successful retailer store can be hard. One way to learn what works is by talking to a retailer that has proven success. You can find these retailers online and set up a time to share a coffee, walk showrooms together or grab dinner after market. Continuing that conversation throughout the year will help you stay on track and feel the support of someone who knows exactly what you’re going through. A great way to find these retailers is by following the #atlmart hashtag. Another way is by sending out Facebook posts and Tweets that you’ll be attending the market and you’re looking at connecting with other retailers. Finally, go to AmericasMart Facebook page and see who they are talking to/who is posting on their page and reach out to them.

5. Attend a social media seminar at market. As you return to your store after the shows, you should be asking yourself: how will I market the products I just bought? It’s important to create a 2011 marketing plan and make sure social media is a part of that plan.

There are lots of good seminars at Market. I will be speaking on Thursday, Jan 13th in the Social Media Track. Please consider spending an hour with me on: Top 10 Facebook and Twitter Strategies to Drive Sales.

For a complete list of seminars visit AmericasMart seminar page and SnapRetail’s seminar series page.

If you can embrace social media in 2011, you will find how beneficial it is for your store. Just make sure you know what you’re doing, how to use the sites, and create a plan of action first that way you can track your efforts. Wishing you a happy new year and a successful 2011!

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