Retailers are getting more social, but is it enough?

By Fadi Shuman

Although the survey, which is published by social specialist agency Headstream and its analytics partner Socialbakers, is actually topped by a video game (Battlefield), five retailers make it into the top 20, namely: Argos; Tesco; Aldi UK; Waitrose; and Selfridges. Further down the list you’ll see other familiar high street names cropping up such as Next, M&S, Sainsbury’s, ASOS, House of Fraser,, Kiddicare, B&Q and Dorothy Perkins, while John Lewis also manages to squeeze in at number 99.

In general it seems that retailers are finally starting to make the most of social for their customer care, which is great news for ecommerce as it shows that e-tailers are embracing the core aspects of multi-channel and also realising that social media offers them the most direct and immediate way to talk to their customers from a service perspective.

However, what the survey also shows is that their actual engagement scores are much lower, which unsurprisingly suggests that retailers need to do more to really connect with people and create long-term and loyal advocates. This really is something they need to tackle quickly, as social is only going to become more important over the next few years as the high street changes.

Another recent report, this time published by retail analysts Conlumino for Webloyalty, predicts that 31% of high street stores will close by 2020 as bricks and mortar is swept aside in the tsunami that is online retail. And with some 85% of UK consumers aged 18 or over already shop on the internet, fuelling the decline of the high street, social is likely to become the key retail battleground.

This is where content strategies need to come into play. The reality is that brands and retailers are essentially still stuck in the broadcast mentality and not embracing the two-way nature of social. They may have customer services right in social spaces, but now they need to focus on building their personalities online, and this means creating relevant and engaging content that keeps people coming back for more and makes them feel as though that retailer is relevant to their lifestyles.

For the future content really will be king across all channels, and as the high street shrinks this means building and engaging online communities will become a vital tool in the retailer’s armoury.

About the author

Fadi Shuman is managing director of New York and London based creative ecommerce design agency Pod1 (a Group FMG company).  

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