Today is Thanksgiving Day for our American neighbours, which may mean little to Canadians except that they can watch football on a weekday and cash in on shopping deals online. But for Canadian merchants and retailers, this U.S. holiday cannot slip by unnoticed. Many small businesses count on social media marketing efforts to help them compete for customers during the shopping craze around Mobile Thursday, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.
According to a Harris Interactive survey, 28 per cent of those who own a smartphone or tablet plan to shop from their mobile devices the night of their turkey dinner – hence the Mobile Thursday title. The numbers add up to nearly twice the amount of mobile shoppers that were tallied last year on Black Friday, and more than five times the amount that shopped using their mobile device on Cyber Monday in 2010.
With more consumers shopping on their devices, brands are provided increased opportunity to address and create impact online. And customers are looking for the high quality service that only small and medium sized businesses can provide. American Express predicts more than 100 million will shop Small Business Saturday this year, a day dedicated to helping small businesses get more exposure at a time when mass commercial ad campaigns tend to overshadow local merchants.
The question that is top of mind for small business owners is: how can they stand out? Having an effective social media strategy in place becomes crucial as SMBs race to be the most personal, efficient and flexible marketers online. Here are three ways social media can help you reel in customers during this four-day shopping marathon.
Boosting customer service
One of the greatest benefits online shopping brings consumers at this time of year is the chance to skip out on long lines and jam-packed parking lots. For businesses, it’s an opportunity to prove that you value your customers as people and not just dollar signs. Most companies are so swamped dealing with the rush of purchases this weekend that they neglect customer service policies. Utilizing social media outlets online allows you to show customers how much you appreciate them, by enabling your company to deal with individual problems intimately and resourcefully.
Website search engines will be working harder than ever this weekend as online shoppers hunt for products and price matches. This means it is crucial for small businesses to make their content available through specific keyword searches. Online marketing cannot exist without content. Every time you publish a social media update, email newsletter, presentation or blog post you are creating more content, which increases your SEO and therefore generates more traffic to your website. And more traffic leads to greater opportunity for sales.
Enabling others to share your story
Once you have built relationships online by providing valuable content and getting in touch with customers, they begin to recognize your efforts by recommending or sharing you with their audience. Shared content is essential to increasing your outreach, as it attracts others to your brand. The key is in understanding what motivates your audience, and providing them with what they want.
Online marketing fuels demand. Social media cannot guarantee sales or disguise flaws in your business plan, but it can increase brand awareness, attract traffic to your website and build customer loyalty. And a strategic online presence is an essential way for small businesses to stand out against competitors this holiday weekend.