Get Ready For Social Sales

Someone just tweeted me a cup ‘o joe. And while you may envy me the jolt of higher brain function my Pumpkin Spice Latte will bring once I cash in my tweet via the Starbucks app on my iPhone, what you should really envy is the revenue bump currently being enjoyed by Seattle’s mega-powerful coffee retailer. 

Starbucks jumped into the social sales game in a big way recently, and every retailer on the planet better pay attention. Because things are about to get weird, and the only sensible thing to do is ride the tidal wave all the way to the bank.

But, how best to do that? Let’s assume for the moment that you don’t have the financial power, army of IT pros, or salivating customer base of Starbucks, but you are savvy enough to engineer a small yet powerful social media push in the interest of not leaving money on the table. All you need to get started is little elbow grease. 

First thing's first.

The first question to ask yourself: is your retail operation well represented on the social media platforms that matter most? If not, get there quick. At Sessionville, we tend to give extra weight to “the big three”: Twitter, Facebook and Google+. That strategy has precious little to do with how we feel about those sites, and more to do with how powerful they are

(You’ll notice that G+ doesn’t usually make it to the top of the list. But, any web pro worth her salt will tell you that Google owns search. And that fact above all others will always keep the internet giant’s own social network more relevant than most.)

Once you’re set up, move heaven and earth to attract viewers using genuinely helpful and enjoyable content that benefits them more than you. Resist the urge to go for an instant return on investment by always posting info you want them to know instead of info they want to know.

Ease into commerce.

You don’t want to go from zero to 100 mph on the very first day—it tends to comes off as greasy and disingenuous. Instead, thoughtfully develop a campaign via one social network, collect all the data you can manage, and learn from the experience. 

It could be as simple as offering a discount via Twitter. You just set yourself up a hashtag so you can keep an eye on things, and ask customers to follow your Twitter account and tweet a phrase in exchange for something you’ve got that they want. 

This, of course, is not quite what Starbucks is doing. But then, neither is it quite as prohibitively expensive to do. There are rumors circulating now about Twitter building a payment solution into its API, something that will send the world of retail commerce into a tizzy, to put it mildly. 

What you want to do right now is make sure your ducks are in a row, your social media presence is set up and growing every day, and the precedence of social network commerce is established such that your loyal customers don’t get whiplash when this thing finally gets real. It won’t be long now.

KJ is a bass player and singer-songwriter (like Sting, only taller); co-founder of Sessionville; and all too fond of sushi and Doritos®.