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The Digital Business Kit for Retailers

Learning Outcomes

Retailers will understand how they can use eMarketing strategies to sell products and services online. [printfriendly]

mod-arrow Social Media

Social media is online communication and sharing through online social networks. A social network is a group of people with whom you have some form of relationship and shared interests such as family.

social media in ausSocial Media use on the rise in Australia.  An important eMarketing opportunity such as social media communities/applications are based on socially-driven exchanges of media. The compelling reason that people engage in social media is a desire to share information and experiences, keep up-to-date, learn and experience value.

Social media is a marketer’s dream because a good campaign will engage potential customers in your brand as well be a powerful opportunity to have them share your marketing. Why? Because people in a social network know and trust each other. Referrals through social networks are much more powerful than any other method. It is the ultimate word-of-mouth and is global.


Note: A business should communicate through social media by sharing posts that are valuable to readers vs. hard selling. People are more likely to read and share information that has interest value rather than obvious sales pitches, however,  people will often share information on special offers or something new. The topic of social media for marketing can be very new to many people. This page reviews the basic concepts and is not intended to be exhaustive in the uses of social media. Visit the resource page for more resources for self-study.


Social Media Use

Data courtesy of the Strategic Networks Group.

Why Social Media?

It is well-known that one of the best methods of marketing is through “word-of-mouth.” When people share information within their personal networks there is an implicit recommendation based on trust. Social media extends this natural networking approach online with the added benefit of global reach.

Benefits include:

  • Reaching millions of brand viewers including your local customers.
  • Finding your target audience more easily.
  • Low cost, high return and daily expansion.

Social media is often thought of as an “organic” process where the sharing and communication happens naturally based on shared interests. You may not know to whom your message is being passed … or how and when … but you will know that it is being passed by those who have an interest in what you have to say. What more can you ask for from a marketing method?

motivators social mediaTraining/resource required: Varies based on the social media platform chosen and the scope of engagement.

Strengths: Huge communities of users and rapid expansion. Your content and brand exposure will find its audience naturally if done right.

Weaknesses: It can be overwhelming – some social media platforms change quickly and you need to keep up. When you start using social networks, you should be prepared to continue using them regularly.

Summary: People do not sign up for and use social network platforms to view ads or read sales pitches. In fact, overt sales pitches on social networks are often viewed negatively. Recognise that people use social networks to communicate with their personal networks – whether these are friends, family, or professional networks – and they do it for fun and to share topics of interest. So make your posts fun and interesting thereby using this powerful medium to build your brand exposure and attract people to your business! This does not mean that you cannot talk about your products or offers, but make it relevant and interesting and fun for people to share.

Typical uses: Generally businesses use social media to increase the reach of their brand using the social media members as delivery points.

Costs: Free + optimise marketing: cross-promote with other marketing methods. Why?: Benefit from extended word-of-mouth marketing, massive reach, and access to new markets. It improves SEO and is much easier to target specific markets.

5 applications and their specialties

Here are 5 social media applications and an overview of what they are and what makes them unique. Picking your first social media platform should relate to where your audience is and how well your product will be seen and shared through these media.


Facebook Facebook is the leading social network with hundreds of millions of users worldwide. It is free to use for basic posts, event creation and sharing. It also has a paid advertising program.

Specialty: Massive audience that agree to share considerable amounts of personal information, which in turn allows businesses to target their paid marketing more closely than any other channel. Facebook is particularly useful for products that have a good story and have attributes that will encourage word-of-mouth sharing.

YouTube The 2nd largest search engine, YouTube is a massive repository for video content. Users will search for videos to entertain, but also for educational purposes – for example: how to fix a tap, cook a meal, paint a wall. You can also create your own YouTube channel for your retail business.

Specialty: Visual and active content. If your product “has to be seen” to really make an impact, then YouTube is a great tool.

LinkedIn The largest business-to-business network – professionals and companies are on LinkedIn networks, share product knowledge, form strategic alliances and find buyers.

Specialty: If you have a product or service for business consumers, then LinkedIn is a great marketing channel. If you have an area of professional expertise, this is a good place to share knowledge and develop interest in what you have to offer.

Twitter Twitter is an application that shares messages of 140 characters at a time. Messages can be tagged to allow followers to follow certain conversations, themes, brands, etc. Each twitter user has their own feed in which others will sign up for updates. Following others in your industry on Twitter can also be helpful for finding content and keeping up with industry news.

Specialty: Bite sized marketing messages. New sales, time-sensitive announcements, menu ordering, event marketing and updates, etc.

Instagram Instagram is a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your life (possibly your business and brand) with friends and customers through a series of photos and then to post them online. Capture and share moments via a photo posted online – it could be a delivery, it could be an opening of your store, an anniversary or a new brand.

Specialty: Image, image, image! If your retail product or brand has compelling visual properties, then this is a good marketing channel.

Best Practice
  1. Always share conversational posts that have value to potential customers rather than hard selling. Be mindful of frequency of posts that are overtly marketing.
  2. Clearly define your target markets and use the appropriate social media platforms.
  3. Offer audience value in your posts. This can be humour, education, emotional engagement, use conversational posting styles (soft sell vs. hard sell); the best posts can often “go viral.”