By: Christopher Schriever Published in the Fall 2010 issue.
Thanks in part to social media’s increasing popularity, vast reach and potential to directly communicate with customers, businesses in nearly every industry have incorporated it into their marketing strategies. Mattress manufacturers have even started using it to introduce new products and build or maintain their company’s reputation. Retailers are using it to announce sales, provide shopping tips and engage their community. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter have become the “new tool” for efficient, engaging and cost effective marketing. Having an online presence not only provides a face and brings personality to a brand, but it also allows an interactive experience between the business and the consumer.
WHY UTILIZE SOCIAL MEDIA?
Social media allows retailers the opportunity to engage with consumers in a way that educates and interests them, as well as simplifies the mattress buying process. It also allows you to connect with consumers in places where they are already seeking information. Consumer research, conducted by Sealy, shows that more than 80 percent of consumers research online before making a mattress purchase and are more likely to make buying decisions based on what they read and see in social platforms. As a result, leveraging social media networks and online tools can potentially drive consumer traffic into retail stores and lead to increased sales.
Mattress retailers, in particular, can benefit by setting up social media pages and leveraging their brands with online tools to create a new direct-to-consumer communication platform. Utilizing online functions and digital technology can help you speak to consumers in a way that is easy to understand and useful for the mattress buying process.
HOW TO CREATE BRAND BUZZ AND BUILD AWARENESS?
Implementing social media programs provides a tremendous opportunity for growth. Networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter allow consumers to directly interact and become informed. Developing a Facebook page and Twitter feed are two ways to keep your consumers up-to-date on news, sales and new products while developing an online community. These communities work as a host for giveaways, conversations, customer service and product buzz. They can also serve to generate a large fan base, doubling as your online mailing list. A typical Facebook page consists of a number of different sections, including:
News Feed—informational highlights including profile changes, upcoming events and status updates
The Wall—a space on every user’s or company’s profile page that allows friends and fans to post messages
Fans—network users who “like” a particular brand page and choose to receive status updates and event information from the page administrator
Friends—network users that you are connected with through shared information
Status—an information update to friends and fans of the user or company’s whereabouts and actions
Photos—a place to upload albums and photos to share
Groups—organized groups of people around specific topics to show interest
Facebook’s features and tools are highly appealing because they can allow your fans to network with each other, and with you, sharing opinions and shopping tips.
Twitter allows for the same type of interaction, yet works in a more immediate way. Retailers can engage with followers more uniquely, as twitter allows for Q&A sessions, direct conversations with consumers and “Tweetups”—an opportunity to meet with consumers in a designated place, such as your store, to share incentives and information. This is a great opportunity for promotion/sales launches, coupons or even new product introductions.
Several manufacturers and retailers are already succeeding with their social media campaigns. Many of these companies can be found within our own “favorite pages” on our Facebook page.
In fact, Sealy recently announced the launch of an exciting new social media campaign for its Embody™ memory foam and latex line of mattresses. The campaign began with a Facebook page and Twitter feed to get consumers excited and talking about the new line. The social media platform allows Embody™ to run a variety of consumer contests and promotions throughout the year. Not only will this help drive traffic to retailers who carry the line, but it will also allow for direct conversation with consumers on the topics of sleep and health.
The promotion featured an Embody™ by Sealy giveaway and created a lot of brand attention while adding hundreds of Embody™ by Sealy fans and followers to their Facebook and Twitter pages. Many of you may have felt this buzz surrounding their promotion, which launched during the Vegas Market. Sealy reports that it drove many retailers to their showroom to learn more about the mattress, the giveaway and the brand.
“Sealy continues to develop strategic social media programs to drive awareness and excitement for our brands across the portfolio,” said Jamie Piper, Sealy Director of Marketing Communications. “We are excited to share key insights with our retail partners to ensure their success in this new medium as well, while enhancing their overall presence online.”
As a retailer your online presence should help solve the consumers’ greatest frustration—determining which mattress is most right for them. It should provide tips on how to improve their overall lifestyle, such as providing sleep tips or perhaps “how to’s” for bedroom makeovers. Your social media strategy should be an extension of your online efforts as well as an engagement strategy to build relationships with consumers and increase overall awareness of your business and the brands and products you offer. Successfully executed, these efforts can translate into in-store traffic and sales.