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Stores Go Social: How Can a Brand Benefit from Using Shop Floor Social Media?

Are big brands giving their employees enough opportunities to get creative and add value? It could be argued that shop floor social media is an underutilized strategy within the domain of retail marketing. This approach refers to assigning a social media account to each store within a brand, thereby allowing shop floor workers a greater level of creative freedom over what they post on their local platform.

An example of shop floor social media that has recently arisen can be seen with M&S on TikTok. The British retail giant currently operates over 1000 stores in the UK, with around 200 local TikTok accounts. The Romford store seems to be performing with the highest metrics, with an impressive 51.2k followers and over 1.3 million likes. TikTok trends largely consist of audios becoming popular and users applying these to different scenarios. It seems that M&S Romford have amassed their following by identifying these sounds and taking part in popular trends.

However, do views, followers and likes translate in to real world customer service and increased revenue? It is difficult to judge conclusively whether online conversations will lead to greater sales figures, although some insights can be drawn from the comments section. Here (right) we see a user inquiring on a Halloween themed video about whether M&S currently carry pumpkins. This video drew her attention to their stock and she states that she will be in store soon to make a purchase. From this comment it could be inferred that in this case M&S’s online social media presence has led to increased footfall in store.

On the left we see a customer enquiring about the available flavours of a range of Christmas Snow Globe gins and receiving a detailed answer from the store account. This could be viewed as an example of excellent customer service, as it would be if this interaction took place on the shop floor. It is also common for users to tag their friends/ family in videos and suggest purchases, as can be seen on the bottom of the lefthand example. These social apps allow for conversations to be sparked organically and may assist in keeping the brand at the forefront of users’ minds. These examples serve to demonstrate that despite reaching a national audience through the nature of TikTok’s unpredictable algorithm, these local accounts are still able to assist with stock queries and provide a high level of customer service to users of the app. There are also many comments on each video praising the stores for their ingenuity and originality, as can be seen in the above examples.

There may be concerns that giving stores this level of creative control could lead to some non-compliant posts and ultimately risk damaging the brand. However, there are ways around this. In order to manage the reputation of the brand, at SRG we require all employees posting on the stores’ behalf to successfully pass an online training quiz and attend a virtual workshop briefing so they understand the kinds of content that are appropriate and will gain engagement from an audience. We then monitor all of their postings to ensure that if there are any posts with the potential to cause offense, we can flag them and have them removed as quickly as possible. This allows shop floor workers to be imaginative whilst ensuring they don't overstep.

Empowering shop floor workers to have a high level of artistic freedom over the content they are posting seems to lead to an overwhelmingly positive response from consumers. It allows brands to create local ambassadors, connecting the stores to customers on a personal level. Allowing individual workers to add value through local social media emphasizes the humanity of the stores, facilitating a sense of relatability and rapport. This serves to show that shop floor social media can have a tangible impact on consumers’ perceptions of brands. Can you see shop floor social media gaining traction as a retail marketing strategy?

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