Make the most of your store’s business page to amp up your marketing—and your sales.
Facebook has long been an essential brand-building tool for dance retailers, but in today’s low-contact environment, it’s becoming even more critical. “The people who are surviving and doing well in this climate are the ones using social media and who have a strong online presence,” says Jill Tirone, founder of DanceFit Marketing and content and community manager with DanceStudioOwner.com.
Luckily, the world’s most popular social media platform has recognized the extraordinary challenges its retail customers have faced over the last several months, and it’s stepping up to provide several new tools designed to help independent brick-and-mortar retailers both stay connected with customers and, more importantly, make sales. To help ensure you’re getting the most out of your store’s Facebook page, we’ll touch on some existing features you should already be using, and discuss some emerging ones that may help you discover an even greater return on the time you invest in the platform.
Your Page Profile
This is probably going to sound obvious, but before you do anything else, make sure you’ve fully completed the profile section of your business page. Your location, contact info, store hours and other foundational details should all be readily available and up to date—especially if you’ve made any adjustments in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdowns. As Tirone points out, many customers right now are “turning to their phones and computers, looking at ‘What businesses are open near me?’ and ‘How can I get things delivered or picked up?’ ” Make it easy for customers to find you.
Once you’ve updated your profile, take a moment to reevaluate your posts. Are you posting often enough? Are customers engaging with your content?
Tirone recommends setting goals with how you want customers to interact with your page, and then keeping tabs on those interactions. Do you want to sell more products, build your brand, drive traffic to your website or promote engagement? Once you’ve established your goals, check the analytics on things that matter most to your business. Be sure to check frequently and pay attention to patterns that develop.
If things are slowing down, try changing up the type of content you’re posting (static posts, links, videos, etc.), and the frequency. Also, consider taking a cue from Adrienne Hansen of On Your Toes Performance Wear in Durant, OK, who typically runs a paid boosted post or other type of ad whenever she notices her post engagement dropping off. “It helps me reach more people than I would normally reach and keeps us at the front of people’s minds,” she says.
You want people to participate in your conversations, but you also want them to take tangible next steps. Use the prominent “Call-to-Action” (CTA) button at the top of your Facebook page to guide customers to the next phase in their journey. You can choose from a variety of different buttons based on what you want your customers to do next. Want to drive them to your website? Try the “Shop Now” button. Want to fill your shoe-fitting calendar? Try “Request Time.” Or, if you want to make it easier for customers to contact you, follow the lead of DanceWear Corner in Orlando, FL, and use “Send Message.”
Jon DeMott, DanceWear Corner’s president and chief visionary officer, says the Messenger tool is critical for connecting with customers. “Every dance store should have that up and running and have someone monitoring it and communicating,” he says. According to DeMott, his team fields several questions a day from various customers about product availability, sizing and other details.
Tirone, also a major proponent of Messenger, says, “It’s not just about customer support. It can also impact sales.” She also points out that Facebook rates businesses based on how quickly they respond to Messenger queries, so it’s important to maintain a “very responsive” status. (To ensure all customers receive some level of response as soon as they reach out, consider setting up some automated messages to tide them over until you can connect directly.)
During the pandemic shutdowns, several dance retailers began tapping into the power of Facebook Live, including DanceWear Corner. “It was on our whiteboard of things to do for well over a year, but we were always so busy,” DeMott says. “When the pandemic hit, we suddenly had lots of downtime and all that inventory, so we had to come up with some unique ways to sell aside from the website.”
For the last several months, the store’s employees have been hosting livestreamed virtual shopping events, allowing customers to connect and shop safely from a distance. Shoppers can view products on the store’s hour-long events, purchase their desired products through CommentSold and interact with the store owners and fellow customers in the comments. (If they miss the live broadcast, customers can also access a replay of the show through the store’s Facebook page, and they can purchase any products that are still available.)
According to DeMott, typical customers purchase between three and five items during the store’s “Blowout Sale” shows, which tend to feature heavily discounted clearance items for between $5 and $20, and they typically purchase one or two items from its other show, which focuses on newer release items with higher average prices, approximately between $60 and $80.
DeMott’s audience has grown over the last several months, and he estimates that roughly 100 customers typically watch each show at this point. While the events already produce some sales and he expects the shows to continue gaining traction over time (“I won’t be happy until I have three to five hundred, or even three to five thousand”), right now he views the effort primarily as a valuable marketing and community-building endeavor.
In May, Facebook announced it would soon begin rolling out Facebook Shops, a tool designed to make it easier for brick-and-mortar stores to showcase and sell products online, directly through the app (actually two apps: both Facebook and Instagram). You can choose to let shoppers browse your products in the app, and then drive them to your website to complete your purchases (as On Your Toes Performance Wear does), or you can use Facebook’s Commerce Manager to make it possible for people to check out in the app itself.
Though the tool is still in its infancy, you can now begin setting up your own Shop. The feature is free to use, allows you to customize the look and feel to align with your existing brand, and even enables you to organize your wares into various featured collections. (Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started.)
Paid Online Events
One final feature to keep on your radar is Facebook’s brand-new Paid Online Events feature, designed to help small businesses monetize virtual events. While you’re probably used to hosting free events designed to pull customers into your stores and drive them to make in-person purchases, our new socially distanced “normal” may mean this is the ideal time to start thinking of ideas for monetizable online events that could reinforce your relationship with customers while boosting your bottom line.
Tirone suggests looking for ways to partner with other local businesses, such as dance and fitness studios, to collaborate on a co-branded livestreamed class. Depending on your network, you might also consider reaching out to a professional dancer (local or otherwise) to collaborate on an exclusive livestreamed performance, or find a way to set up a Q&A session with another professional who might be of interest to your customer base—perhaps a professional choreographer, casting director or agent, who could offer career tips, or even the head of a local company or collegiate dance program who could offer some audition advice. Get creative. As Tirone says, “the sky’s the limit!”
Colleen Bohen is content director at a New York–based marketing firm and a freelance journalist. She formerly served as editor in chief of Dance Retailer News and managing editor of Dance Spirit.