30 Oct 2018

Social media marketing for retail brands: telling your story and creating social value

Social media marketing for retail brands: telling your story and creating social value

Most businesses focus on selling the features and benefits of what they sell. These days we are so bombarded with this approach that we’ve learnt to filter out retail social media campaigns that do this and ignore them. 

We also spend more and more time on our phones. They are the tools we use to live our busy lives and they command a lot of our attention. 

So how do businesses engage with these new tools? The secret is that, whilst none of us like ads, we all love a good story. Storytelling social media campaigns are an increasingly popular way for brands to clearly communicate their purpose and values. Why is this important?

Social media marketing for retail brands: understanding the consumer evolution

Two key trends are driving consumer behaviour, which are vital for retail social media campaigns

Firstly, social media now means faster shared communications and algorithms that centre on our interests. If you like one environmentally conscious post, the chances are you’ll see more in your feed. Plus you’ll be able to share them more widely than ever before.  

Secondly, Millennials. Born between 1980-2000 they are demographically bigger than Gen X and Baby Boomers and control about $2.5 trillion in spending power. For them, meaning and social justice are key values. This affects where and how they spend financially as well as who they choose to work for and what stories they share online.

Aligning and communicating shared values can reap strong rewards.

Changing for Good

We’ve all seen the footage of growing amounts of plastic in the ocean. A third of all seafood that we consume contains plastic and the problem is worsening. What we consume and where it comes from is becoming increasingly important to us all.


Engaging with these environmental values authentically is important for all retailers to keep customers and engage young employees. We’ve already reduced single use plastic bag consumption by 90% in the UK with our ‘bags for life’. Coffee cups, straws, plastic bottles and other single use plastics are next. 

Retailers can ask consumers if they want a plastic bag or initiate the 5p charge in store. You can also choose from a host of reusable water bottles, coffee cups another environmentally and socially conscious products. Most importantly, you can engage your customers both in-store and online about these issues and how we can all tackle them together.

Storytelling Social Media Campaigns and Social Stories 

We are entering an era of mindful consumption and what we will now be selling is essentially goodwill (for the planet and all of its inhabitants). 

The goodwill story is one that people love to share. Social media is the perfect place to tell this story so that it’s shareable. We can start by following and engaging with environmentally and socially conscious brands and charities.

Watch, listen to and share what’s important to them and their followers. Once you understand this, you can start sharing your own story on the changes you are making.

Ethical Boom

With the boom in ethical products there is plenty of opportunity to generate profit. Increased sales, relevant pr and marketing will all contribute towards your bottom line. 

It’s important to be mindful of where you are on your ethical journey. Any products that radically conflict with your sustainable story will need to be phased out over time. Authenticity is of paramount importance to the next generation of consumers and brand trust is won in inches and lost in miles. 

If you are sincere and well stocked with products that are making a difference to the planet it will undoubtedly stand you in good stead for the future.

Jeremy corner

About the Author: Jeremy Corner is Chairman of the Giftware Association and Managing Director of Blue Eyed Sun, publishers of gorgeous handmade greeting cards. They are also and the UK and Ireland distributors for BambooCup - a reusable alternative to the 2.5 billion plastic lined, single use, coffee cups going to landfill in the UK each year. Find out more at www.blueeyedsun.co.uk/blog/bamboocup

He is an international speaker, blogger and industry influencer on social media @JeremyCorner. Find out more at www.blueeyedsun.co.uk/blog 

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