Last week at the Shop.org Annual Summit, one of the key topics on everyone’s mind was social media. During one of the sessions, the moderator asked if there was anyone not using some form of social media (be it Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and as I looked around the room, barely any hands were raised. Retailers now have a major presence on social networking sites, have their own community forums and create their own blogs. There are jobs dedicated to coordinating and maintaining social media efforts. It’s becoming much more commonplace to visit a site and see links to the company’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages.
The growing prevalence of retailers on Twitter was especially apparent to me when BizRate® announced the Circle of Excellence Award winners last week. Last year at this time, we announced the winners and those retailers publicized the award on their sites, as per usual. This year, in addition to those efforts, winners immediately began blogging and tweeting the good news to their followers. Companies can get news out quickly through these channels and are able to have more of a dialogue with their customers.
While retailers have recognized the need to dedicate resources to social media efforts, there are still questions about the best way to take advantage of these new channels. In Q4 2009, BizRate Research is going to run a “Hot Topic” study on social media, in order to get a better sense of why consumers become fans of retailers on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter, or watch their YouTube videos. Is the driving force to get special deals? To find out about upcoming events? Does it engender loyalty? We’ll be taking a closer look at the social media phenomenon, and look forward to sharing the results in a few months!