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Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Founders Series where we get insights and analysis from founders of various different companies in the tech industry. Justin Garrity is the VP of Product and Marketing at Postano. Justin has over 15 years of experience in product design, user experience, data visualization, marketing, and branding. Justin is passionate about social media and leveraging data to create more engaging experiences for brands and their fans. Postano is a social media aggregation and display platform that works with brands to curate and display the very best fan content.

There isn’t much that social media hasn’t impacted in the past 7 years including the influence of behavior on how consumers shop. As social networks have exploded in growth, retailers and fashion brands have raced to stay up to date on the best ways to engage with their consumers and ultimately increase sales.

Giant retailers and small business owners alike are finding that they need to be where their consumers are and now a days that is on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest (and quickly gaining is Instagram, Vine, & Snapchat). Unlike traditional print & television advertising, social media can be one of the most cost-effective and trackable marketing channels for retailers.

71% of retailers named social media as the most important technology trend impacting their business according to a recent KPMG survey.

With technological advances being created for retail like NFC and iBeacons, it can be tempting for retailers to pour all their effort and money into getting consumers to adopt them and focus on mobile content. But retailers need to really examine what actions they want consumers taking in their stores.

Would they rather have people face down, staring at their mobile screen and reading reviews & learning more information, or would they rather have consumers actually looking at their products, with the ability to touch, feel, and try on their products and ultimately make a purchase?

The former is known as the ‘zombie effect,’ where potential customers could walk through an entire store and barely look up from their mobile device and forego any involvement with the physical store. It’s a problem that sporting events, conferences, and even schools are now dealing with.

Social Cues

pinterest-offlineRetailers are starting to experiment with using social networks like Pinterest offline as well to increase sales through social validation. Companies like Nordstrom and Target have put ‘Top Pinned on Pinterest’ tags on retail displays to increase consumer confidence that these products are popular and universally liked.

It is a strategy that makes a lot of sense: as consumers we take a lot of advice and social clues from our friends and networks, which shapes our purchasing behavior and consumer opinion.

Integrating Social Activity In-Store

One company that has bridged bringing social media into their physical retail environment is Nine West. As an evolution of Target and Nordstrom’s strategy, Nine West invested in putting social media displays in their retail locations to pull in real-time social media content.


In doing so, the retailer brought an interactive engagement from behind the screen into an in-person brand experience. Encouraging shoppers visiting the store to tweet and Instagram their experiences, helps promote the creation of more user-generated content as well as amplifying the brand message.

Another company that took a creative approach to integrating social media into their retail stores is Urban Hilton Weiner. They hosted a one day “Pay with a Selfie” campaign where customers could receive a $10 voucher towards a purchase when they tweeted a selfie of themselves trying on clothes in the store and used the #urbanselfie hashtag.

Social media has proven its staying power by evolving the ways in which we communicate — we speak a social language. The evidence is clear that retailers must invest in integrating their brands into the social lives of their customers. The opportunity is here, along with tremendous potential, for brands to create a whole new type of in-store experience that can transform how consumers interact with their brand.

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