Social Media 101

Making your social media campaign more effective and efficient 

By Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender, Special to Party & Paper Retailer

Social media marketing builds word of mouth, the number one thing that brings new customers to your store. It’s definitely a social medium — it’s all about the interaction you have with the people who follow you. Here are some easy tips to keep you on track.

Listen. Interact. React. Sell. Customers need a reason to read your social media posts; if all you do is sell, sell, sell they’ll quickly tune you out. Follow this formula for best results:

Listen: Listening means reading what people are talking about and responding quickly, frequently, and accordingly.

  • Interact: If someone posts or comments on your page, acknowledge it with a comment of your own or a “Like.” The goal here is to connect and engage with followers so get in on the conversation — remember this is social media.
  • React: When someone asks a question, answer it. If they give you a good review, say thank you. And if they give you a bad review answer it fast – the longer it’s out there unanswered the more people tend to believe that it’s true.
  • Say something like, “I am very sorry that this happened to you, things like that generally do not happen here. Please send me a PM (private message) so that we can talk more.”
  • The sooner you respond, the better. Anything longer than 24 hours is too long. Smart phones allow you to post from anywhere, so get every social media app and use it. Turn “Notifications On” so you never miss a customer question, comment or review.
  • Sell: You can only plug your products and services about every fifth or sixth post; any more than that and your social medias become an infomercial. Posting just “item and price” isn’t good form; instead entice followers to buy by showing product in use or with related items. Talk about why it’s unique or important.

What to say. Shorter posts are more engaging than long posts. Millennials and Generation Z actually tend to tune out long blocks of copy, so if they are your target customers, then for sure less is more. Stick to three lines or less in your posts. You can go longer is sometimes, but remember we live in a sound bite world.

Show, don’t just tell. Videos and photos are more engaging than just copy alone, so post videos on your social medias and house them on your YouTube channel. Facebook Live lets you instantly stream live to your followers and interact with viewers in real time. It’s fun and easy! We save our broadcasts on our phones after we shoot so we can share them later on other social medias and in email blasts.

Never use photos that you do not have permission to use. Take your own, ask your vendors for photos, or use sites like Adobe Stock ( Using a photo from Google images is copyright infringement; you could be fined and the fines can be steep.

Give incentives to people who visit your social medias. We’re talking about exclusive content. Train followers to look for offers they can only find on your social medias. Think “Tuesday’s Deal of the Day” or a “Happy Hour” at a specific time, on specific days. Promote via your social medias, website, email blasts, even in signing on your sales floor.

Facebook ads. Facebook for businesses is almost all “pay to play” these days. According to Moz, an SEO consulting company, just spending just $1 per day on Facebook ads gives you the chance to get in front of about 4,000 people who probably would not have seen you otherwise. Facebook offers several ad options to increase the number of people who see your posts, and each one can be customized to reach your target audience. You choose your budget. Visit to learn more.

Using hashtags. A hashtag (#) is a word or phrase that’s preceded by a hash or pound sign. It’s used to identify messages on a specific topic. For example, if you search #party you’ll get a list of posts that are related to party, but you won’t get posts that simply include the word “party” because the word is not preceded by a hashtag.

Adding hashtags at the end of all of your social media posts helps you connect with an audience that reaches far beyond your current followers. Don’t forget to add a hashtag for your store, as in #yourstorename, so people can easily search for you.

Make a commitment. Social media is now mainstream marketing; once you start you have to keep going. Posting sporadically alienates followers and does nothing for your reputation, so commit to posting at least once a day on each of your social medias. Don’t overwhelm yourself: choose one to three and do them very well.

It’s important to plan how many times a day will you post, and it’s important to determine your social media “voice,” along with who will manage your accounts. Social networking requires the same planning as any ad campaign, that’s why we recommend you use a post calendar to document when, what and where to post. You don’t want to leave anything to chance.

— Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender are professional speakers, authors and consultants. They are contributors to MSNBC’s television program “Your Business.” They made Meetings & Conventions Magazine’s list of Meeting Planners Favorite Keynote Speakers, have been named two of Retailing’s Most Influential People and have been listed among the Top 50 Retail Influencers since 2015. Find out more at

Originally posted Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017

Tags: operations, social media