Home Furnishings Industry Conference

Lessons learned with furniture retailers

When I joined Natura as their Communications Director in 2009, social media was still a pie in the sky idea for the furniture industry. Companies (and people like me) that engaged were seen as foolish or visionaries – sometimes both.

Home Furnishings Industry ConferenceThis past weekend I spoke at the Home Furnishings Industry Conference in San Antonio. The entire conference revolved around social media. The question is no longer, “Why should we engage on social media – show me the ROI?” to “How do I do get on social media and how do I manage it?”

Erik Qualman, Socialnomics author, opened the discussion, painting the social media with the broad strokes of national brands doing it right and reaping the rewards. Brands not doing it right were a hot topic as well – the “United Breaks Guitars” video is an extreme example of a ticked off customer. While United solved the problem the day video went live, more than 10 million people have enjoyed watching a PR disaster that could have easily been avoided.

Kevin Doran from R & A Marketing dived deep into case studies of 3 furniture retailers. He mapped out what success looks like for each one and showed attendees how to measure it themselves with easily understandable steps.

I focused on the strategy behind the scenes – the heavy lifting your community doesn’t see. To kick things off, I shared a quote from Wayne Gretsky. “I skate to where the puck is going to be – not to where it is.”

If you’re ready to jump into social media, stop reacting and start looking ahead at what winning the game looks like to you. Getting people talking is only one piece of the puzzle.

Deconstructing the social media game

the Great GretzkyHockey’s a fun game and a great way to spend an evening with your friends (whether you’re watching or playing). But winning the game involves critical thinking and a lot of practice. Wayne poured every ounce of himself into honing his skills and understanding the game inside and out.

Know your keywords

Opening a Facebook page or a Twitter stream without understanding your website’s keyword strategy is like spitting into the wind. Invest in keyword research and learn what words are important to your brand and how they fit in with your local landscape.

Keyword research is labor-intensive and can take time, but it’s the first step to your social media success.

Pick your platform

Everyone says you need to be on Facebook – but maybe your customers aren’t on Facebook. If you’re in a B to B situation, LinkedIn might be more appropriate. Or maybe your customers need instructional videos – ever heard of YouTube?

  • Look closely at what your competitors are doing? Does it make sense? Is there a gap where you can slip in and shift the game?
  • Search similar products on the various social media channels. Using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or YouTube as a search engine will show the lay of the land quickly.
  • Explore local social media platforms, such as FourSquare, Yelp or CitySearch. These powerful engines are driving consumers to local businesses – are you listed? And are you being talked about or passed over for your competition?

Invest in the right props

Plan your StrategyConsider social media your casual Friday. Your website is your Monday to Thursday business, but things are little more relaxed when you trade the suit for your jeans. But casual doesn’t mean sloppy. Just like that shirt you wore last night to clean the garage isn’t a good choice for work, your social media channel needs some dressing up to work the way you want it to.

  • Invest in a landing page. A well-designed landing page establishes your brand presence and lets visitors know you’re an established, professional business.
  • Respond to every single post on your page – even if it’s 3 days late. A late response is better than none and it’s an opportunity to let your community know you’re human.
  • Always put your customer’s needs first. You want to sell more stuff, but sometimes people just want to chat – that’s why it’s called *social* media…

Like many industries, furniture retailers understand that if they don’t get into the social media game, they’ll lose to the Fortune 500 companies. Thankfully, there’s still room for small businesses to own their space just by being where there customers are hanging out. 

How are you changing up your game online? Have you considered the keyword issue or are you just winging it and hoping for the best? Share your experiences and let’s learn together.

Interested in learning where Julia’s speaking next? Find out now: Upcoming Speaking Engagements

Want to read through the RTs from the conference? They’re all here: CurateDE.

Got social media questions? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn – I’m always on.

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