Twitter and retail - only for the big boys?
Posted by Paul Allen on 21st August 2010 / 0 comments
As a committed user of Twitter and with Rise PR having worked extensively with the retail sector, an article in Real Business on how the top 50 UK retailers are using the social network caught my eye yesterday.
Written by Illiya Vjestica of Leeds-based online marketing consultancy Smartdog Digital, it reveals that only 80% of that top 50 have official Twitter accounts and just 35% of retailers promote their Twitter presence as a link or call to action on their website homepage. With an estimated 4.3million UK users of Twitter this seems an extraordinary oversight on the part of some massive brands - Morrisons and John Lewis are just two that should hang their heads and look a little shifty.
But is Twitter only of use to the big retail brands? Can independents and smaller businesses make it work for them too? A recent escapee from London, I live near Albert Road in Southsea, an amazing street packed with independent shops, bars and restaurants. Not many of the individual businesses appear to be on Twitter, but there is Facebook group Love Albert Road that has more than 5,000 people like it. It does a great job of collectively promoting Albert Road and shops and services on it but could do even better with the addition of a Twitter account.
Another example is Gunwharf Quays, a harbourside shopping centre in Portsmouth with shops, bars, restaurants, a cinema and more. There is a Gunwharf Twitter account with more than 500 followers and it tweets sales and promotions from the shops, highlights events that take place and generally does a good job of engaging with its followers. It also has a Facebook page that 2,400 people like.
Of course, Gunwharf Quays is a official entity in itself, which makes it easier, but there is absolutely nothing to stop shops joining together with their neighbours and tweeting as a street or area. If that’s where your customers are then you need to find a way to get there yourself, whatever your location or size.
Twitter provides a chance to promote your services, publicise special offers and get closer to, and engage with, your customers and prospects. The time investment might be daunting for one shop alone (although its surprising how straight forward it can be once you are up and running) but teaming up with like-minded shops to tweetand position yourselves as a shopping destination of choice could be really productive for smaller retailers.