Archive for May, 2011
Our loyal customers have spoken – and your wish is our command! The participants in our Feedback Survey provided excellent input on their experience with the site, and we look forward to making the necessary adjustments to further improve Foreword Online!
We found that the overwhelming majority of readers enjoy their experience on Foreword Online, finding the articles both interesting and informative!
Our participants also expressed interest in learning more about several topics including:
•Marketing and Promotional Ideas
•Creative pricing strategies
•Integrating new technologies
•And the future of the industry
By focusing on these areas, we hope to better provide you with the content your store needs for continued success!
We would like to extend a sincere thank you to all who took the time to share their opinions. Our goal is always to stay a step ahead of your needs, so please don’t hesitate to let us know if there are any further areas you’d like to learn more about!
Feel free to pass along topics you’re interested in at anytime by filling out the form in our ‘Contact Us’ section, posting to our Facebook wall, or talking with your MBS Representative.
But now, for the part you’ve all been waiting for! To show our appreciation for your participation in our survey, we randomly selected three respondents to receive our exciting prizes. And the winners are…
Marilyn Loppnow from Westmont College Bookstore won our grand prize, a 16GB iPad 2!
And runners-up Bob Walker of Duke University Bookstore and Dora Hill of Mountain Empire Community College Bookstore, each won an 8GB iPod Touch!
Thanks again to all who participated!
A study by Demandware points to smartphone users’ increasingly high expectations of the mobile experiences that retailers provide them with.
The results are based on a survey of 450 smartphone users. Overall, Demandware found that consumers use a variety of touch points and channels to inform their purchase decisions.
Our research focuses on consumers who are innately drawn to the Web, accessing it several times per day for information, from multiple touch points and locations,” said Adam Forrest, Product Marketing Manager at Demandware, Burlington, MA.
“The research reveals that in comparison to traditional consumers, these ‘smart consumers’ have heightened expectations of retailers and the overall brand experience,” he said.
Demandware is a company specializing in on-demand ecommerce.
The study found the consumers are increasingly sharing opinions and attitudes across Web and mobile-enabled social networks.
To ensure customer satisfaction, retailers should provide holistic and exceptional experiences across all touch points.
Retailers that are not prepared to deliver on these expectations run the risk of alienating consumers and losing market share to competitors.
The research shows that a bad experience in one channel does not just impact a consumer’s perception of that channel.
Consumers associate a negative experience across the entire brand and 52 percent of Web-savvy consumers who have a bad experience online are less likely to shop from that brand again in an offline channel.
Only 38 percent of traditional consumers shared the same attitude.
When presented with a positive online shopping experience, consumers are more likely to reward retailers with brand loyalty, with 67 percent indicating their willingness to share a positive experience among their network.
Conversely, consumers can be very unforgiving, with 72 percent compelled to share a negative online experience with friends and family, and 70 percent turning to a competitor as a result.
Implications for retailers
With consumers ever vigilant of a brand’s performance in the mobile arena, retailers need to step up their game to ensure loyalty.
“Smart consumers are fickle, and due to their connectivity to the Internet they have heightened expectations of brands,” Mr. Forrest said.
Smart consumers, in comparison to traditional consumers, have a high propensity to evangelize good brand experiences and an even higher propensity to share poor brand experiences.
Sixty-seven percent of respondents indicated their willingness to share a positive shopping experience among their network.
Conversely, 72 percent are compelled to tell friends and family about a negative shopping experience.
Smart consumers pose both an opportunity and threat to retailers based on their readiness to embrace all brand touch points and purchase across all channels.
Retailers that embrace smart consumers have the opportunity for stronger brand loyalty by providing ubiquitous information across all shopping points.
Consumers who shop through multiple touch points and channels are proven to be more valuable to retailers.
In another Demandware survey with 192 retailers, 35 percent of respondents are going multichannel solely because the multichannel customer is worth more. An additional 29 percent of retailers are going multichannel because they believe that this is where the market is headed.
Smart consumers require great shopping experiences led by consistent product, customer and order information across channels.
If one customer touch point fails to meet these expectations, then there are not only channel implications, but the entire brand is compromised in the consumer’s mind.
Web data about product materials, sizing guides, specifications and peer reviews help consumers make the right purchase decision and also help retailers minimize the potential returns.
Sixty-nine percent of consumers trust Web data including product information and reviews more than information attained from a sales associate.
Only 16 percent of consumers believe that store associates are the best resource for product information and 43 percent of consumers will trust a sales associate more if he is aided by a Web-enabled device.
Retailers that fail to provide accurate and detailed information through the Web that is accessible across touch points run the risk consumers will use the Web and mobile phone to research and even purchase from their competitors.
At the geometric rate of smartphone adoption, Nielsen predicts that as early as the end of 2011 smartphones could out penetrate feature phones, resulting in the majority of consumers being smart consumers.
Consumers are more often using mobile devices to inform their purchase decisions across touch points and have a strong impact on in-store purchasing behavior.
Eighty-three percent of respondents said that the most valuable and useful in-store technology was their own mobile device.
Retailers that do not embrace the smart consumer by providing seamless integrated experiences run the risk of watching their stores become showrooms for the competition.
“With the barrier for consumers to shop elsewhere at its lowest, retailers need to ensure they deliver superior online, mobile and in-store experiences,” Mr. Forrest said.
“In order to unify the customer experience for addressing the new requirements mandated by the smart consumer, retailers need to leverage the ecommerce platform as the central hub for customer, product, order, and inventory data across all sales channels,” he said.
Ensure your store stays ahead of the needs of today’s ‘smart consumers’ by talking with your MBS inSite client representative for more information on how to amp up your e-commerce experience.
Be sure to check back Tuesday when we announce the winners of our Foreword Online Feedback Survey!
A social media presence is a must. But simply creating accounts for your store on these sites doesn’t cut it anymore. Each week, we’ll explore a new way your store can enhance their online presence in our Social Media Series to make sure you’re taking full advantage of these interactive outlets.
Earlier in our series, we showed you how to create a custom Welcome Tab to make a favorable first impression on your social media visitors. (See our Post for a refresher). But, in order to benefit from a Welcome Tab, you have to find and direct potential fans to your page. So, how do you continually drive traffic and increase your fan count in the first place?
One simple, yet effective, strategy is to integrate a contest to your Facebook Page, encouraging current fans to help you recruit new social media members. University of Maryland – Baltimore County (UMBC) Bookstore successfully accomplished this task with their most recent online promotion.
“Students are so connected to social media that it’s becoming the only way to reach them,” said Bob Somers, Director of UMBC Bookstore. “They skim through their emails, and some don’t even respond to texts, so we wanted to find a way to communicate with all of them in the environment they’re using most.”
Offering a 5lb. Hershey’s bar as a reward, the store asked their current fans to form teams, using status updates and instructions on their Welcome Tab to spread the word. Conducted similar to a referral program, the store directed each group to sign up by starting a new topic within the Discussion Tab and listing their unique team name.
Then, teams promoted the page to their friends, directing them to “Like” it on Facebook, as well as write their team name within the corresponding discussion post. Whichever group generated the most new fans for the page within the designated time period was rewarded with the chocolatey treat.
This approach allowed the UMBC Bookstore to successfully track how many new “Likes” each team brought to their page, increasing their fan count as well as user engagement. UMBC Bookstore announced the winner and posted their picture with the hefty chunk of chocolate on their Facebook page.
Throughout the promotion, students were excited about the opportunity to win such a unique prize, and eager to participate. However, the store doesn’t limit themselves to just one type of contest, often providing unique sales, discounts, and events to keep students interested in their page’s content.
“Social media has had a huge impact on our store, and we’re still just in the infancy of it,” Somers explained. “Students are surprised to see that the bookstore even has these accounts, so it’s been very well received. This strategy is by far the most effective way we’ve found to reach students, so we plan to keep expanding our efforts.”
Austin Kidwell, store employee, agrees that the store’s participation in social media has successfully enhanced customer perception. “There’s a lot of positive interaction between the store and students now. We’re no longer just a place they go once or twice a year to buy books; students are now able to see the store’s involvement on campus and interact with us on a more personal level.”
If you have questions while implementing any of the strategies listed, feel free to post a question on our Facebook wall, and we will do our best to help you solve your issues!
*Don’t forget, tomorrow is the last day to enter our contest to win an iPad 2 or iPod Touch! If you haven’t already, complete the survey on our Facebook Page to qualify!*
Over the summer, many stores send postcards or pamphlets with information about their services to incoming students. However, today’s students are all about engagement, and if your message doesn’t stand out from the crowd, it’s likely to end up in the trash. Send your students an interactive message that grabs their attention by modernizing your traditional mailings using QR Codes.
Yesterday, we featured ways to create these popular 2D barcodes (If you missed our how-to post, see below). And now, we’re going to help you save some money when using this strategy! If you haven’t yet implemented this innovative technology yet, now is a great time thanks to the new USPS 2011 Mobile Barcode Promotion.
Because of the recent success many marketing campaigns have seen with QR Codes, the USPS opted to promote their use to mailers. Through this program, they hope to develop awareness around integrating mobile technology into direct mail communications and ultimately, demonstrate how this technology can increase the value of mail.
Between July 1 and August 31, 2011, business mailers will receive a 3% upfront discount on both Standard and First-Class mail letters and flats that include a two-dimensional barcode. Available to all companies who mail using a permit imprint and submit their mailing documentation electronically, the Mobile Barcode Promotion offers stores a significant incentive to try their hand at QR codes.
Even better, the USPS requires no applications or advance registration and no minimum volumes to participate. Stores can simply submit qualifying mailers electronically using a permit imprint payment method. There are certain requirements mailers must meet, however, such as having a barcode relevant to the content of the mailer and placing the barcode within or on the front of each mailer.
Your students are wired in to technology, and to stay successful, your store should be too. Integrating QR Codes into your marketing plan can effectively communicate your message to students in a language they understand.
In fact, in an April 14 article, Post and Parcel quotes Thomas Foti, the Postal Service Manager of Marketing Mail, as saying, “We firmly believe that mobile barcodes add significant value to mail – they help increase response rates and they help establish relationships with those that don’t necessarily already have a relationship with mail – for instance those in younger generations.”
Stay up to speed on this new trend by talking with your inSite representative about creating QR Codes that link to your most relevant content within the platform.
As e-commerce and social media continue to grow, one thing is clear: your customers want instant access to the information they’re looking for more than ever before. So it’s no surprise that Quick Response, or QR, codes, are quickly catching on and becoming a popular retail trend in 2011.
Scannable from any smartphone, these two-dimensional barcodes direct an audience to a
designated message, website, or other piece of digital content, and can also activate phone functions such as email, IM and SMS. Though they may look a little overwhelming, QR Codes are an easy and effective method your store can implement to meet your customers’ needs and boost sales. Don’t know how? Let us help.
The first step in any new marketing strategy is always planning. Your store should decide what the purpose of your new promotion will be, how you will implement and track your progress, and most importantly, how it will benefit your store. There are lots of options when it comes to QR Codes, so explore different methods and see which will be the best fit before deciding.
Here’s a basic checklist of questions to consider in the planning phase:
•Who is my target audience?
•What is my goal? (provide information, increase traffic, enhance customer service, increase sales)
•Where do I want to direct my code? (URL, Google Map, Contact Information, Email Address, SMS, Text, RSS Feed)
•What type of marketing materials will I put my code on?
•What tactics will I use to distribute these materials? Where will they be distributed?
•How will I track my success?
Once you have a plan in place, it’s time to get to work! There’s a never-ending list of services that create QR Codes, free of charge, based on your store’s needs. You can start by searching for ‘QR Code Generator’ and browsing for your own, or go straight to the
For the more adventurous, Kerem Erkan, another code generator, allows you to explore more innovative options such as linking to your foursquare location or even encoding a specific user’s last tweet. This service also offers options for further customization with the ability to change the background and foreground colors as well as the margin size. But, ensure your code sticks to the basic formula of a light-colored background and a darker foreground. Always ensure your code is scannable by downloading a QR Reader and testing before placing on any marketing materials.
After selecting a service, simply fill in the required information prompted by the Generator to create your customized QR Code. You can save your code to the computer to print on business cards or signs, or use its permalink to embed on your website or social media site.
MBS makes it easy for you to link QR Codes to your most relevant content by supporting mobile shopping on the inSite platform.
“Your store can create QR Codes for specific products on your inSite web store, as well for any webpage,” explained Carol York, MBS Requirements Analyst.
iPhone, Android and other mobile devices are all supported, but stores should check with their inSite Client Representative for the specific URL used to create the barcode, as they may be slightly different, she advised.
Now that you’re up to speed on how to create a QR Code, here are some innovative ways to incorporate them into your store:
•Increase Your Numbers: Use services such as likify to create a QR Code that points users to a landing page containing a fully-functioning ‘Like’ button linked to your Facebook Page, or direct students to your opt-in webpage to sign up even more participants in your Loyalty Program.
•Talk the Talk: Create customized shelf-talkers for your most popular textbook titles to provide students with a seamless experience. By linking these QR Codes to your inSite page, complete with MBS-Verba Software Integration, your students will be able to see real-time price comparisons between your store and top competitors so they don’t have to shop around. This strategy greatly increases customer loyalty and keeps the sale in your store, providing commission on any competitor sales.
•Answer Questions: Have a large store? Give your students the customer service they deserve by posting stations in various high-traffic areas with text reading, “Have a Question? Scan Me!” Direct your code to load a phone number into the students’ phone, allowing them to call a specific help line equipped with a dedicated customer service employee who can answer their questions. This approach reduces customer frustrations and takes stress off sales floor employees who may be occupied at that moment.
•Extend Your Hours: Create a QR Code on a window cling instructing students to ‘Shop Online Now’ and hang it on your front display or door. Students arriving after closing will then be able to scan the code, directing them to your e-commerce inSite page. This lets
them easily locate the product they need, converting an otherwise passive consumer, who would have likely gone on to the next store, to take immediate action with the power to make a purchase.
•Green Your Product Information: Kirkwood Community College Bookstore uses QR Codes as an eco-friendly alternative to take-away flyers. The store decided to save some trees by marketing their electronic products with QR Codes that allow smartphone users to view spec. sheets as well as product information on a bookmarked webpage from their mobile device.
Check back tomorrow for a financially savvy strategy that will save your store money on QR code marketing! A new summer discount is available to businesses and we’re giving you all the info you need to take advantage of this great deal!
Upgrades, maintenance and new hardware can all add up to equally significant financial and operational strain on your store. In an effort to reduce this hassle, MBS created our innovative hosting model, nearly nine years ago. Today, over three-fourths of our systems customers are deployed in a hosted model, providing full integration with the MBS POS, as well as all MBS applications.
Though there are undoubtedly many upsides to transitioning from a back-room server to a cloud computing model, such as the MBS hosted solution, some stores are still concerned about using the technology.
“We were having difficulty finding the time to keep up with all the necessary upgrades and maintaining a staff with the knowledge to complete those operations,” Farmer said. “But, I was concerned with giving up control, because putting such a significant responsibility in someone else’s hands can be a little daunting.”
In the end, Farmer converted to the MBS hosting model out of necessity.
“The maintenance on our server ultimately became too costly, and we had to make a change,” she explained. “Once I finally ‘cut the cord,’ so to speak, and realized the benefits of the system, the decision was really a no-brainer.”
According to Jamie Knipp, Director of Online Client Services, Farmer’s experience is a common one.
“When a store owns their own server, they essentially own all the responsibilities required to maintain it,” Knipp said. “There are tangible costs, such as maintenance and operations, but there are also several intangible expenses that aren’t accounted for by dollars alone, such as man-power and knowledge. All together, these issues can create a lot of problems for store managers.”
Sarah Shiflett, Vice President of Customer Service, added, “Our hosting model relieves this burden by shifting the responsibility to MBS. We offer store managers the freedom to focus on the success of their operations and using the great tools we provide them with to do so.”
Eliminating all the issues Farmer experienced with her backroom server, the MBS hosting model freed University Bookstore’s resources. Finances could be better allocated to other areas and the efforts needed by their IT staff were greatly reduced.
Beyond global availability and significant savings, a hosted model also ensures each store is on the latest release with constant upgrades, provides a secure environment for encrypted data and eliminates the funds necessary for re-investing in new server hardware. But, what truly sets the MBS model apart is flexibility.
Because hosted data only requires internet access, stores have ultimate access to their applications anytime.
“Mobility is a requirement in today’s working environment, and hosting allows stores to take advantage of this capability with access to their data anywhere they go at any time, day or night,” Shiflett said.
Adding to the benefits, stores who use the MBS hosting model also receive frontline support and training from our client service representatives, simplifying every aspect of textbook management.
“We become the store’s server and system operator, all rolled into one,” Shiflett explained. “Our representatives work hand in hand with our Wholesale force to answer questions and coordinate the communication with other departments. Our goal is to effectively maximize each store’s business relationship with MBS.”
In fact, Farmer found the implementation process to be seamless with the support of MBS staff.
Now that she has adopted the hosting model, Farmer wouldn’t think of turning back. She recently even recommended the service to industry colleague Charlie Rutt, Director of University Store at University of Central Missouri. To those exploring the option of hosting, Farmer suggests doing the same.
“Call somebody that’s done it first, and talk over their experience, that way there’s no surprises; it really helps you identify the benefits and see how simple the process actually can be.”
To employ the MBS hosting model in your store, or for more information, contact your MBS representative or send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a column for the July 2010 issue of STORES, I wrote about a dual challenge facing retailers post-recession: the need to extend their capabilities while improving efficiencies to control costs.
A third and equally important requirement is customer centricity: the proactive alignment of your offering and operations with consumer trends in general and your customers’ preferences and needs in particular.
To achieve the former, you must consider the macro economic, social and technology factors driving change in your markets. Satisfying the latter means gaining and leveraging knowledge of the people you actually do business with to meet their expectations on personalized terms.
Properly executed, customer-centric strategies can transform service into engagement, information into excitement, satisfaction into inspiration and otherwise passive shoppers into ambassadors for your brand. This may sound like a tall order, but four key enablers will help you fulfill it: cross-channel integration, mobile POS, assortment planning and advanced CRM.
Unify channels to boost sales
No matter where or when customers access your business — and no matter how many channels you have — they expect to be dealing with one enterprise. Impediments caused by siloed policies, systems or inventories will no longer be tolerated, especially when your competitors are so close at hand.
Integrated cross-channel solutions meet this challenge by enabling seamless shopping across all channels. They permit products to be researched and purchased online, then picked up in stores; and they can locate and order products quickly from the best possible location, enterprise-wide. This expands customers’ options while preventing frustrations and delays. For the retailer, it prevents stock-outs from becoming walk-outs or click-aways, streamlines order management and strengthens the brand.
In-store mobile solutions deliver comparable benefits. By allowing your associates to deliver inventory and product information, CRM, transaction services and a range of other functionality while the customer is engaged, handhelds increase productivity, efficiency, satisfaction and sales. Fully equipped, they can eliminate second stops at a central POS. The very presence of handhelds in your store — with associates trained to use them — makes a dramatic statement about your commitment to providing an outstanding customer experience.
Make your merchandise make sense
Another expectation common to most shoppers is the ability to find a fresh selection of relevant merchandise, in-store and online. This is where merchandise and assortment planning solutions truly shine by allowing you to establish ideal merchandise profiles for each market and class of store, and to keep pace with ever-shortened seasons, cycles and trends.
This complex process can only be managed through automation, both for merchandise planning at the chain and store levels across all channels of operation, and for assortment planning, which should leverage visual tools linked to your merchandising data to help you build and view offerings in step with your financials.
Few retailers can compete without using CRM tools to better understand and engage their customers as distinctive groups and individuals. By analyzing customer data and transaction histories, marketers can segment the client base in detail for more effective, targeted promotions; associates can engage customers more personally and professionally to enrich the shopping experience; and customers themselves can benefit from compelling incentives and rewards.
The payoffs can be huge. We know of a national specialty retailer that recently undertook deep-dive customer analyses based on dozens of criteria. Using revised segments, they developed a campaign to re-engage inactive customers that tripled their return on investment relative to previous efforts, as well as a new model for reaching top-tier shoppers that generated their highest campaign returns in years.
Fulfill your brand promise
In today’s economy, your customers’ expectations have been elevated to a higher level than ever before, and meeting those expectations is more critical to your success than ever before. To hit the mark, virtually all of your operations must be planned, developed and executed with your customers in mind. In doing so, you will deliver a retail experience that will consistently delight your customers, distinguish you from your competitors and strengthen your foundation for long-term growth.
As strong supporters of the Green movement, students are starting to consider sustainability practices when choosing where to eat, shop, and even attend college. Some stores have taken notice of this trend and are making a stronger effort to participate in more eco-friendly initiatives. Oklahoma City Community College Bookstore is a prime example of such a store, valuing their students’ opinions and adopting greener retail practices to coincide with campus-wide efforts.
“Our Student Council and Student Task Force reviewed all the ways our campus could become more sustainable,” explained Brenda Reinke, Director of OCCC Bookstore. “Because the students approached us, we knew it was an issue they really cared about. So, we decided to look into further ways we could improve as a store and identified a few key areas.”
Expanding their efforts, OCCC Bookstore explored new strategies to minimize their store’s carbon footprint with both environmentally-friendly products and services. “Some of our most popular green products include biodegradable office supplies, such as pens and post-it notes, as well as waterbottles, which cut down on the use of Styrofoam” said Reinke. “We use 100% biodegradable shopping bags in the store and even sell ‘green’ caps and gowns.”
Unfortunately, there are obstacles to providing student’s more eco-friendly options, as many of these items are more costly, Reinke admits. But, regardless of price, she believes the products serve their purpose by bringing a positive image to the store in students’ eyes.
“Our students are really aware of the issue, and they consider it while shopping,” she added. “I’ve seen so many walk past a less expensive item, and purchase the ‘green’ version instead. It was surprising to me at first, but it demonstrates their dedication to the issue.”
Despite the high cost of some products, OCCC Bookstore was able to implement one inexpensive, yet eco-friendly, option. Although they have always recycled, the store recently revamped their program by offering One Planet Books, a service designed specifically for recycling used textbooks in college bookstores.
Previously, they had donated unwanted books to a program which sent them to Africa; however, shipping fees became a large expense. Transitioning to One Planet Books has offered OCCC Bookstore the opportunity to not only cut the costs of their recycling program, but also to earn a commission for each carton donated.
“Just the thought of someone throwing a book into the trashcan makes me cringe, so I wanted to find a less-costly alternative to our last recycling program,” she said. “One Planet Books has been very successful, and allowed us to collect books all year round. Many people from both the campus and community donate regularly, so our bins are almost always full!”
To other retailers considering going green, Reinke suggests taking part in the issue. “If the students are involved in it, your store should be too. They think it’s a really big deal, so it’s better to join in and be a part of that fight, rather than to try and be against it,” she says. “It might cost you a little more, but it’s worth it!”
Foreword Online has been live for a month, and we want to know what you think! Our goal is to connect you to the latest industry-relevant information and ultimately make your job easier – however, we need your help to make this goal a reality.
Help us to better offer you the resources you’re looking for by completing a brief survey on your opinion of Foreword Online. By letting us know what topics you’re interested in, we will be better equipped to provide you with the most relevant content to position your store for continued success.
To enter, simply visit our Facebook page, click the Survey tab below our profile picture, complete the survey, and submit! You do not need a Facebook account to participate. All entries must be received by Friday, May 27.
Participants will qualify to win one of three exciting prizes; including an iPad 2 and two iPod Touches! Our randomly selected winners will be notified on Foreword Online May 31, so be sure to check back and see if your name makes the list!
If you have any questions, feel free to visit our ‘Contact Us’ page or to talk with your MBS Representative for more details.
Thank you in advance for your participation!
A social media presence is a must. But simply creating accounts for your store on these sites doesn’t cut it anymore. Each week, we’ll explore a new way your store can enhance their online presence in our Social Media Series to make sure you’re taking full advantage of these interactive outlets.
Tweets are great, but if your followers aren’t engaging, how do you know they’re listening? Increase your following and track the effectiveness of your social media efforts by offering rewards for participation through Twitter Contests. The possible ways to implement this strategy into your feed are truly endless, so be creative! Here are a few basic suggestions to get you started.
Try incorporating a Twitter Contest into an existing store event for dual-promotion. Create a predetermined tweet with a specific call-to-action at the end of it, asking students to retweet (RT) the message for entry into your contest. For example, your store could post:
I sold my books @universitystore buyback today! Follow us and RT this to qualify for 1 of 3 $150 txtbk. scholarships!
When students retweet your message, it will automatically feed into their stream, reminding all of their fellow friends and classmates that buyback is going on and calling attention to your store’s Twitter account, which they may want to follow.
Make sure when constructing your RT message you keep the 140 character limit in mind and leave room for students to add your store’s name with the @ tag at the beginning. Similarly, by choosing a prize specific to the student demographic, such as textbooks, your store will gain more targeted followers who will likely engage in the future, rather than those who are only interested in winning.
If you don’t have an event to promote, try using Twitter Contests to gain user participation with trivia. Ask a question related to your store or campus history, and prompt students to RT your message along with their answer. Then, reward the first person to respond correctly with a designated prize. For instance, your store could say:
Name the 3rd President of our University. First correct wins $50 GC to the bookstore! RT @universitystore with responses!
One way to jazz up this type of contest is by posting a Twitpic of an object hidden somewhere on campus and ask students to name the correct location and a specific fact about it, to boost interaction. Or, mix up your social media sources by having students post their response to your Twitter Contest in a comment on Facebook, increasing traffic and ‘Likes’ on your page.
Regardless of which approach you choose, your store should continue to promote the
contest by posting sporadically throughout its duration. Use services such as SocialOomph (previously known as TweetLater) or HootSuite to schedule posts throughout the day, so you aren’t tied to your keyboard.
Be sure to review Twitter’s Guidelines for Contests to ensure you comply. In accordance with their guidelines, include a rule encouraging students to enter only once, and discourage the creation of multiple accounts after you post your original RT message.
Finally, make sure you choose a clear method to both select and announce a winner before you begin any Twitter contest. Develop a plan for tracking your promotion to provide you with accurate data on your follower and RT counts so you can evaluate the effectiveness. There are countless services that can simplify the process by sending you alerts each time a user posts your specific RT phrase or follows your store. You may want to try:
• Simply Measured: monitor analytics for specific phrases, hashtags, or brands
• TweetsWin: post a contest, gather statistics, and select a winner automatically
• Tweetreach: analyze the reach and exposure data of a hashtag, phrase, or brand
As the old saying goes, “give and you shall receive.” Collegiate retailers should keep this sentiment in mind when participating in the world of social media, and in fact, give more than they expect to receive, in some instances. Twitter is about connecting with your students so your focus should be on building relationships before ROI. Your audience is always wondering, “What’s in it for me?” And, the more often you can answer that question the larger your flock of followers will be.
Have other Twitter Tips? Share them with your industry colleagues by tweeting us @mbstextbook. Follow us to stay connected to even more relevant content, and stay tuned for next week’s Social Media Series post!