The Most Important Social Media Influencer For Retailers

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Like other industries, retailers need to identify and build relationships with influencers in order to achieve success in the social media realm.

However, when completing initial research and identifying influencers, most retailers miss the mark and overlook one of the most significant groups from right under their nose: their own employees.

Employee Integration and Audience Relevancy

If you’re a retailer, stop and ask yourself: are my employees well integrated in my social media program? If the answer is no, then ask “Do I feel like I’m building a highly relevant audience of advocates for my brand?”. In most cases, these two go hand in hand.

I hope it’s understood at this point that although the size of your audience matters, it doesn’t mean much unless you’re building a network of:

  • Existing customers who (as a result of your social media efforts) will spend more, buy more often, or spread the word about your business.
  • Prospective customers who are being influenced by you and others to move closer to making a purchase from your business, wherever they may be in the sales cycle.

In retail, having your employees “on board” – whether they’re participating directly or spreading the word about what’s going on with your social media program – is crucial in building a relevant network of advocates. If your employees are involved, the word is likely to spread to the influencer that’s probably more top-of-mind for you: your customers.

It also provides a starting point for “bridging the gap” between online actions and offline behavior – one of the greatest challenges we have as marketers.

Simple enough? Let’s look at a brief example.

Employee Impact on Reach and Relevancy

Five months ago, I met with a client who was looking to take their social media program to the next level – a retailer with 30 locations. Their current performance was already very strong in terms of analytics, with Facebook page activity exponentially higher than the average brand and an extensive reach compared to their budget.

The problem? Their program lacked real relevancy within their organization. That’s a deeper problem than analytics can paint.

After doing some digging, we concluded that a few presentations were in order to get their employees on board, receive feedback and assistance with strategic decision-making, increase their understanding about how the social web works, and what they could do to help.

The support was outstanding, and the results spoke for themselves.

In the month following this integration, activity across the client’s social networks nearly doubled, despite already being very active. What’s more, they also felt that their campaign had reached a new level of relevancy and their confidence in the social web’s capabilities increased dramatically.

The lesson?

The lesson here is clear for retailers. When your employees are recognized as influencers and included in your social media program, it opens the doors to new possibilities like no other group can – both in terms of reach and relevancy of your audience. Middle to upper management calling every shot on their own won’t get it done for retailers.

Your turn:

If you’ve been involved in a retail social media program, what was your greatest success driver?

Garrett Ira
This monthly Social Media for the Retail Industry column is contributed by Garrett Ira. Garrett is the Chief Strategist for Bonfire Social Media, a digital marketing agency in Portland, Oregon. Combining his passion for marketing and experience in management with Starbucks, Garrett has a unique understanding of both the marketing and operational side of retail - and drives tremendous success in social media as a result. +Garrett Ira
Garrett Ira


Marketer. Athlete. Ping-pong ninja. VP of Strategy @thinkbonfire.
Great read: #Communication Styles and Team Dynamics by @AdamEdgerton - 10 months ago
Garrett Ira
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  1. says

    Yup, this is something a lot of business owners never thought of. If business owners can treat employees well, it is another social media influencers. : )

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