Social media has made a large impact on the world and continues to grow. It started as a fun way to chat, post, and like different interests while also keeping up with old friends; now it has grown into an industry that many businesses are using to their advantage. Whether it is to inform loyal customers or to grab the attention of potential new ones, social media has created a whole new platform for businesses to project their voice and vision for a fraction of the cost.
One industry that is leading the way in their use of social media is retail. I witnessed this first hand at the National Retail Federation (NRF) Student Program this past weekend at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City. While at this conference, I saw an abundance of different retailers and the federation itself using social media to engage with the multiple student, professional, and educator attendees. Being a fellow attendee, social media addict, and marketing nut, I fell victim to the social media strategy that was laid out within arm’s length. Here is how retail and I assisted each other through Instagram:
For the entire weekend that I was in the city, I posted a series of pictures recapping my day. The posts were a fun way for me to keep a log of my time and update followers on what was happening daily. How did this help different retailers? The pictures in the posts allowed me to showcase the different things that they have to offer. Whether it was the fun photo booth located at Uniqlo clothing store on 5th Ave. or the delicious food at Stella 34 Trattoria, I was able to broadcast various products and services to an audience who may not originally be within their target market but could likely join.
Hashtags are a great way to drive traffic to a particular interest, product, trend, brand, and so much more. Different companies and the NRF themselves encouraged students to add their hashtags (#reatilsfuture or #kohlsinnyc) to their posts. This allowed the companies and other students at the conference to see what other attendees thought about speakers, events, and their time in the city. With the hashtags, these retailers were able to engage with attendees, create a conversation, and promote their brand all in one.
For me, captions are the best part about Instagram. Behind every picture is a story and captions allow users to provide the background information needed for followers to understand the significance behind certain pictures. My captions allowed me to not only tell a story but, also gave me the opportunity to provide positive word-of-mouth to these businesses. For example, my time at Da Marino Restaurant was one to remember. Not only was the food amazing but the experience was as well. If not for the caption, no one would know that based on the picture of my plate.
How Retail Helped Me
As someone who would love to work with social media in the future but seldom post on her own personal accounts, I am a bit of a walking contradiction. However, the NRF, Kohl’s, and more retailers have helped me change that over the weekend. I took advantage of the opportunity and gained practice in keeping up with my own personal social media campaign/series and had a ton of fun while doing it! Social media is not only a fun platform to connect, but it is a valuable tool for businesses to engage and produce positive results.