UK Retailers Failing To Make the Most of Social Media Marketing

The majority of UK retailers are failing to exploit the opportunity to integrate social media marketing into their operation to increase sales and generate loyalty, a new benchmarking study from dotCommerce ecommerce solutions reveals today.

The study of 100 UK retailers, available to download reveals that while 42% have some kind of social media presence, just 12% are using more than one social media channel and only 32% of retailers with a Twitter or Facebook account promote these on their website.

The report also uncovers the differences in social media activity between larger and smaller retailers. Larger retailers are more likely to have a Twitter or Facebook account, with 42% on Twitter compared to just 12% of smaller brands. However, when it comes to blogs, smaller companies are leading the way as 10% have a blog, compared to only 6% of bigger ecommerce players.

Other key findings include:

  • Twitter is now more popular than Facebook Although Facebook has a greater user base than Twitter, fewer retailers had a presence there (24% compared to 26% for Twitter). One of the reasons might be the more open nature of Twitter, making it easier to enter from a business standpoint
  • Twitter used mainly for push marketing Retailers are largely using Twitter as a broadcasting tool with 73% using it for product updates, 62% for marketing and 58% to promote company news
  • Blogging used by few - Only 8% of retailers have a blog on their website, making it the least used of all the main social media channels assessed. Of those who blogged, only 38% posted daily and the blog was mainly used for product updates (50%) or company news (50%).
  • Other social networks largely ignored only 6% of retailers offered links to any other social media channels such as Youtube and Flickr

We were surprised by the low levels of social media usage amongst the retailers we assessed. For those who had taken the plunge, there was a lack of sophistication and low levels of integration with their other online marketing efforts, said Simon Bird, Technical Director at dotCommerce. Lucrative opportunities to engage with target markets and drive business through social media are being overlooked by these retailers.

A surprisingly high number of brands with a social media presence on an external channel failed entirely to publicise this on their website. This is a significant missed opportunity for brands who want to adopt a joined up marketing strategy to maximise the effectiveness of their social media presence and deliver return on investment, he added.

Here are Simon Birds top tips on how retailers can make the most of social media:

1. Publicise your social media presence - let your customers know where to find you on social networks by integrating all your web channels

2. Find out where your customers are not every network will be right for every brand, so do some detective work and see which channel is being used by your customers

3. Quality content is key social media success depends on creating great content that your followers or fans will want to share

4. Engage with your audience most of the retailers using social media are just broadcasting information. Initiating conversations and engaging with your audience will help encourage loyalty and retention

5. Track your traffic if you use a social channel to promote offers , make sure you use trackable tags in the links to your site, or an affiliate, to track the effectiveness of the offer.

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