Perhaps the most visible sign in store of how the world is changing is that bundle of parcels delivered as part of the click & collect supply chain.

[pull_quote_right]The aim of social media is to build a community. You want them to like your comments and share your content[/pull_quote_right]

The iPhone was launched eight years ago. Today two billion people have smartphones. No-one knows where this is taking us exactly but the smart money is on a digital future.

The narrative that you tell your shoppers will change too. Today you talk to local people by using window bills, leaflets and in-store display. In the future you may do all this on their smartphones, and the key to this is social media.

There are eight-to-10 major social media platforms and the one you need to be on first is Facebook. The reason for this is it has 1.4billion monthly users. It’s the biggest.

But before you set up your profile and your page and your group you need to have a plan.

“Social media can be used for any business and finding the best way to use it is key,” writes Antony Welfare in his Social Media Essentials book.

Welfare says there are two types of social media networks. Feeder networks like Twitter and YouTube attract people to interactor networks such as Facebook and Blogger.

Welfare recommends blogs as the heart of a social media strategy. Write five to 10 paragraphs on a subject of interest to your customers. It is the key to building a great community, he argues.

The next important step is to have a Facebook page for your store. Here you will share messages, images and videos. Facebook allows you to connect with everyone. A blog is where you write your ideas in your own language. “Customers are becoming more jaded about advertising but they will gladly read a blog that has some interesting and relevant things to say,” says Welfare.

The aim of social media is to build a community and you want them to ‘like’ your comments. The like button builds trust. You then want people to share your content. And to make it fun. So you build a community of supporters.

Welfare says you start with the blog and then share this on your social media channels. Then you take ideas from the blog and reshare them. He recommends that you put a date in the calendar, say three times a month, to share a story about what’s new in your shop.

Then share ideas from this three times a day on Facebook. You can do this with pictures. For example, imagine you have written a blog on Create Your Own Summer. You are promoting fun things to do locally. Ask your customers to share fun photos and upload the top 10 one at a time across four days.

On Facebook you need to measure how many page likes you have. This is your number of followers.

Then you need to measure how engaged they are through likes, shares and comments on your  21 weekly uploads.

Welfare says you need to test, monitor and change what you do. Find out what people like and do more of it.

Having a social media strategy puts you in greater control of your customers and your business destiny. Operating a click & collect service means you are working for someone else. Owning a local community who value you and your business is what to aim for.

Social Media Essentials for a Growing Business by Antony Welfare is available to purchase on Amazon.