SOCIAL MEDIA:
Unleash its power

15th March, 2016 by Richard Fountain

As social media has been around for a while, it’s easy to think that businesses would be very aware of its power and capabilities. But in fact nothing could be further from the truth, as the vast majority of businesses do not use social media to anywhere near its full potential.

The retail sector is one of the better adopters of social media, although again the majority of retailers barely touch the sides when it comes to having a joined up approach to social media, and gaining maximum reach. At Retail Report, we have carried out extensive research in the use of social media within shopping centres and retail as a whole. We used these findings to help build our social media module, which did throw up a number of surprises as to how social media can be used along the way.

If you asked the majority of retailers, or shopping centres what they feel are the key advantages of social media, they would probably site sales and marketing, which is definitely true. No matter which business sector you are in Social media can be incredibly powerful in helping you reach out, find and establish a global customer base. How many other mediums would allow you to launch a product or service to a global audience at the touch of a button? And at an incredibly low cost. However, sales and marketing is only part of the story when it comes to social media, as there are other significant advantages.

When offering goods or services to the general public, social media can keep your finger on the pulse across your entire operation. One example of this was a recent demo we gave at a large shopping centre in London. Prior to our arrival at the clients site, we connected the centres own social media feed in to our Retail Report demo. A matter of minutes earlier a lady had tweeted that she was annoyed that due to an issue with the car park payment machine, it had taken her 30 minutes to exit the car park. The car park manager had joined us for the demo, and said he was unaware that there had been an issue with the machine. It seems the machine was only slow, and not broken, and the woman hadn’t flagged it up or complained while she was in the centre. Therefore without social media this lady’s annoyance during her visit to the centre would have gone unnoticed. But worse still a potential ongoing issue with a slow or erratic payment machine would have carried on causing issues and ruining a visitors experience at the centre.

We have all seen how social media can create significant problems for companies, due to the way it empowers people like never before. In 2015 One Direction’s Harry Styles tweet criticising SeaWorld’s treatment of killer Whales, which caused their social media sentiment to fall dramatically by 82% in a few hours. During another recent demo of the Retail Report, a shopping centre manager told us about an issue that the centre had experienced, where a group of teenagers had been banned for one reason or another (perhaps just for being teenagers wearing hoodies!). However these social media savvy youngsters tweeted about their plight, and it seems the general public sympathised and reacted, and pretty soon a large protest group had been formed to get the ban lifted. It was a whole two days later that the centre management had been made aware of the issue, and were able to reach out to the group of youngsters and resolve the situation.

Using our own unique algorithms we can automatically analyse your organisations social media feeds, and rate sentiment accordingly. It’s not enough to know how many likers or followers your organisation has, you need to know what people are saying about you. If something happens which creates a high level of negative sentiment, we can alert you immediately through a number of ways, including text message, email, or even an automated telephone call, which allows you to react to potentially avert a crisis.

Although our name suggests otherwise, the Retail Report service is far more than just reports (not that the power of reporting and analytics should ever be underestimated), we automatically monitor and alert on any significant change that happens across your entire organisation. Social Media is just one of the multiple data feeds of an organisation. Our service integrates seamlessly with just about any data source from any accessible location. Including car park systems, Footfall, BMS, and of course Social Media, to automatically monitor, collect, alert and report.