Retailers hear how they can harness the power of social media 

Independent health food retailers gained valuable insights into how they can harness the power of social media, during a lively online workshop co-hosted by small business mentor Dave Christie and Health Stores UK. 

For this session, Dave – founder of Take on Goliath – brought along social media specialist Helen Dobson of Core Social

The pair began with a whistle stop tour of social media essentials – what it is, how it can work for your business, and where it fits into the overall marketing mix. Here, Helen stressed the importance of seeing social media as an integral part of an overall marketing strategy. 

She said that deciding on a ‘tone of voice’ for your social media was crucial, and that this should reflect the type of customers your store has. “Check in on your competitors’ social media to see what they’re doing and how they’re talking to their customers,” she urged. “When you’re posting,” Helen advised, “sell the benefits of a product or service, not the features”.

Dave and Helen both agreed that ‘selling posts (posts where you are actively selling product) should not make up more than 10% of your total social media output. Most of the time, focus on informing, educating and entertaining, they said.

Moving on to ‘brand personality’, Dave said: “With independent retail businesses, like health stores, people are buying into who you are. So think hard about how you want to communicate the value and values of your business. And ask yourself whether you communicate differently with a customer on social media, compared to the way you would do in store. Think about whether you need to communicate in a different way. Above all, aim for a positive emotional response – that’s so important. And if you can achieve that, you’re replicating the best moments that occur naturally in store in the physical environment.”

Lots of people struggle to decide which social media channels to focus on. “The key thing,” said Dave, “is to ask yourself, where are your customers”. He added: “I’d say they’re mainly on Facebook in forums and groups, and on Instagram. TikTok is growing, but probably isn’t quite there yet for your businesses. Basically, try to focus on the channels that capture most of your audience.”

There was advice for the social media reluctant among us. “Try to step back from your own views and dislikes and focus on how you could be getting more people through your door,” said Dave. There were tips too on optimal timing for posting for different demographics, and on the benefits of planning and scheduling social media. 

Helen gave a quick beginners’ guide to the difference between posts, stories and reels and there was valuable advice on how to use tagging and hashtags effectively. 

To view the full session on our YouTube channel, head over to the Members Area on the Health Stores UK website

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