Social Cues: How to Connect With Older Customers Using Social Media

If you’re not managing your store’s social media strategy, you’re passing up a valuable opportunity to connect with older customers

When discussing social media strategy, there’s a common refrain among independent jewelry retailers. It goes something like this: “I just let my young employees handle all the social media.”

The same proprietors who micromanage every detail of their brick-and-mortar business are all too eager to give up control of some of their most important marketing avenues—namely Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

It’s mostly out of necessity; keeping those feeds fresh and engaged takes time, and most store owners simply don’t have time to spare. But it’s a mistake to assume that 20-somethings are better equipped to tweet than seasoned veterans by sheer virtue of their age. An even greater error is missing the chance to connect with older clients who linger in droves on social media sites.

Facebook, in particular, is a hotbed for socially minded seniors and middle agers. According to iStrategyLabs, the network experienced an 80 percent jump in the number of users 55 and older between 2010 and 2014 (it lost 6.7 million teens and young 20-­somethings to newer networks).

As an owner or manager, you clearly don’t need to be the person posting every clever new Pandora bead that crosses your threshold. But helming a strategy that maximizes your company’s efforts on social media is crucial to branding in the post-Facebook age.

We asked Calgary, Alberta–based digital marketing strategist Ernest ­Barbaric how retailers can best reclaim (and remake) their shop’s social status:

• Sign up. For those not on Facebook and Twitter already, Barbaric says, “create an account at the very least, and see what it’s actually like to be there.” He adds, “I think a big disconnect that happens with people trying to market on social is that they don’t understand how their marketing and ads are being experienced on the other end. Ask yourself, ‘If I post this photo, how is it actually going to be seen by people?’?”

• Define your objectives. “Be very clear about what you’re specifically trying to do when it comes to social media,” Barbaric adds. “Is the objective to increase brand awareness? Is it about getting sales or partnership or becoming a thought leader? Pick one or two goals, maximum, to work toward.”

• Don’t overreach. Starting slow on social is perfectly acceptable, Barbaric says. “You don’t have to be on everything. I would say it’s important to be on two or three channels, then make sure what you’re posting is really good.”

• Read up on social media strategy. Barbaric advises researching other companies’ tactics and how to create a strategy with quantifiable goals.

• Be wary of outsourcing. If you hire someone to run your feeds, make sure they are working toward your objectives. “You shouldn’t have social media just to have social media—that’s useless,” Barbaric says. “Having a company share links with your users every day doesn’t deliver a lot of value; that’s just a basic existence. You need to be creating original content and participating in conversations in your city. And even if it’s not you posting, you need to be the one with the strategy.”

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