Social media is an essential component of any businesses marketing strategy.  With millions of online users it is the fast and efficient way to reach and engage customers.  Twitter alone has over 500 million users and Facebook has over 800 million active users.  Include users on Pinterest and other up and coming sites and it is clear to see the important role social media plays in today’s marketing world.

Expion analyzed retailers throughout the US to see what strategies they were using to engage consumers on Facebook.  Social media is geared to engage consumers in a way that connects them to a company and a brand.  By becoming part of the dialogue consumers are no longer advertised to, but rather an active participant in the discussion.  The challenge is finding a way to promote online interaction between the company and consumers.

Starbucks has been extremely effective in managing their social media presence.  When they post something on Facebook, they receive more comments than other retailers, highlighting the loyalty of their fan base. Starbucks does not believe in frequent postings.  Instead they are more purposeful with the information they deliver and typically won’t post more than once a day.  Starbucks is not afraid to post sales, specials, and promote products.  They do it with graphics that pop and add creativity to the photos more than the message itself. 

The lack of frequency in which Starbucks posts, could be a contributing factor to their success when they do.  Consumers are not inundated with messages from Starbucks, giving an assumed value to messages that are received. Starbucks posts a variety of specials, coupons, and offers and customers are responding positively.  They are proof that if consumers love the brand, a sales pitch isn’t a bad thing.

The key with any social media campaign is to engage consumers and build brand loyalty.  Old Navy recently took social media offline and had Facebook fans help with a recent marketing campaign.  They had hundreds of fans hold up signs that made a live barcode which was later posted online and gave customers a discount.  By including fans in the campaign they took social media full circle and their fan likes increased to over 5 million.

Engaging fans on social media requires creativity and integration with brand management.  While it is not immediately clear what fans will respond to, Facebook gives users the opportunity to run specials and see what works.  Wal Mart posts up to six times a day and they have over 26 million likes.  Posting this frequently allows them to address the interest of specific fans and try out a variety of marketing tactics.  The ultimate goal is connecting with and engaging clients so while each of these retailers approaches social media differently, they all have had proven success in the space.