A version of this article was published in the September issue of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News.
BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) – For our September issue of our magazine, we asked panel members about the State of Retail: Describe your store’s social media usage and how it has changed since pre-COVID.
CINCINNATI: David Bordewisch, manager biowheels
Our social networks represent approximately 20% of our marketing efforts. We have a very diverse clientele, so we use social media to highlight new bikes and let others see what we have in stock. We also show happy customers with their new bikes. Almost everything we do is on Instagram and Facebook; Other than adding a few “reels”, we haven’t expanded to new platforms. Most of our content is self-generated, managed by one person on staff. Posting COVID, we are more consistent in regularly posting new content.
Our best practices are: Think about things before you post them. Stay away from politics and social commentary. Update often and make sure something is posted at least once a week. Be selective when republishing because original content attracts much more interest. We don’t directly track or monitor our social media ROI, but when the new Pinarello “F” was released, we got some leads that were productive. However, the number of potentially fraudulent queries also increased.
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: Linda Coburn, co-owner Electric bikes Pedego 101
We continue to invest heavily in Google Adwords as our main source of marketing and advertising. Nothing else we’ve tried for eight years has been as successful as that…and good word of mouth from satisfied customers. That said, we are very active on Facebook, moderately active on Instagram, and occasionally post on Twitter. We also have a private Facebook group for our local owners. Most of our content is posted by store owners. We take photos of people when we deliver their bikes, when we do group rides, when we have special events. We tried to outsource once, but we were not satisfied with the relevance of the posts. I wouldn’t say we made any real changes to our social media strategy because of COVID. Since we don’t sell online, it’s hard to track any kind of return on investment. We tried Facebook ads, but we didn’t get any results.
Since the pandemic began, we’ve increased our social media traffic by about 60% and it’s still growing. We have also learned more about algorithms. The platforms we use are mainly Facebook and Instagram, but we also have a Twitter account, and we’re trying to be more active there as well. I personally manage our posts and usually post three, four and sometimes 10 times a day. From time to time we pay advertising on Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp, and usually we get very good results. I learned that you have to be consistent when posting, and it takes a few months to master. It took a few months until people started following us and liking us. Now we have a good flow of newcomers.
HIGH, Georgia: Joe Elam, Owner Habersham Bicycles
We have synchronized the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts of our store, which means that we publish once on Facebook and it is automatically sent to the other accounts. I primarily rely on Promoboxx to generate our content. Its automation ensures that we have content on a regular basis, and we create our own posts when we have special announcements, such as new products or special hours. Promoboxx has been my only real strategy for social media, and this hasn’t changed before or after COVID. I haven’t moved to any new platforms and I still see Facebook as the standard platform for marketing purposes.
In the early days of social media, you paid for advertising and tried to track your return; however, I discontinued that because I could never justify paid advertising in terms of any return on sales or even new customers. I’ve always heard that marketing should be budgeted at a rate of 2% or so of revenue, but in my experience, most advertising dollars rarely have a worthwhile return. The more social networks grow, the more I am of the opinion that what is local is local and word of mouth is the most important thing..
FOLSOM, Calif.: Erin Gorrell, Owner folsom bicycle
Social media is extremely important for our sales and marketing as we can reach our audience instantly. We absolutely monitor the return on our investment and, like any facet of a business, we constantly review, adapt and modify it. Our goal is to create content that is compelling and applicable to the needs of our customers and is focused on getting them on the bike. We try to be diverse in our messaging to meet all levels of riders and provide information and stories where the customer can see themselves in the story we share. We want them to want to ride a bike by providing routes, “how to’s” and of course the latest and greatest products available to them. We do all of our social media and marketing in-house as we are very specific about our message and images. While our social media output has always been daily, we’ve ramped up a bit during and since COVID, providing local bike routes each week to help our customers explore places they may not have known. We do not modify the platforms we use; we just amp it up a bit.
Note: Folsom Bike co-owner Erin Gorrell will no longer be on the panel after this month following the sale of her two shops to Trek Bicycle, effective September 1.
PORTLAND, Oregon: Tom Martin, Sole Proprietor tomcat bikes
My main social media account for my store is Instagram, with a Facebook integration. I do all the content creation myself through a smartphone app. I’m a terrible photographer, but it works with the store’s anti-marketing “dive bar” vibe. Social media plays with short videos and I resist that because it requires more resources, better lighting, and a faster learning curve. I only have so much time. My use of social media marketing hasn’t changed during COVID, but I rate it higher than many stores because I post a couple times a week. I measure my return on investment through metrics such as appointments booked directly from the platform and closing sales through Messaging. Social networks are better as a local tool for your market. My advice is don’t be shy about tagging other businesses that are complementary, even other stores, as they will reciprocate if they are smart. Also, make sure to automatically follow any follower who has more than 1000 followers because you will attract other customers due to the algorithms..
HATTIESBURG, Miss.: Jenny Moore, co-owner/manager Moore’s Bike Shop
Our current use of social media includes Facebook and Instagram. I only post on social media, but encourage ideas from staff members. Our content includes sharing local cycling events, featuring new exhibit products, and other positive content I come across. With the constant volume of customers in the store, I have had less time to focus on content creation and our social media activity has decreased compared to the early days of COVID. Fortunately, our alternative advertising strategies are managing to keep the business stable. I’ve tried sharing unique and popular articles on our social media with no consistent results, but I remember years ago getting stuck with a StreetStrider that needed to go away. The staff and I made a short video demonstrating its use, and the next morning two groups came fighting over it..
CHAMPLIN, Minn.: Pam Sayler, Owner trail biking
We use Facebook and Instagram, adding posts every two or three days. Our Facebook content tends to be more detailed, and Instagram content is more image/headline focused. Most of our posts come from me, but our store ambassadors add travel updates and event information. The social separation of COVID made social media enter more into our lives. It took time to spend on Facebook Messenger, and we found that adapting to the way consumers communicate is the biggest change we’ve made to our use of social media since the pandemic. We believe that social media is extremely important to our sales and marketing, and Facebook provides great tools for tracking impressions, clicks, and likes. Doing nothing for the social networks of your store is a failure. Try something. Learn from your mistakes, then try again. And also, add an email platform – use Instagram for images and Facebook for more details and email for engaging content.