Cove Boutique is a small independent clothing retailer in Kilmarnock opened in 2004 by Tracy & Shirley – Co-owners, friends, neighbours and business partners! We first met the up with the “CoveGirls” back in 2010 when they attended one of our Social Media Training workshops run in partnership with East Ayrshire Council. Since then, they’ve been going from strength to strength, and using Social Media to positively impact the business. We asked them to share some advice and tips for other local businesses.
We have found good use of social media to be crucial for our business. It has helped us reach an audience beyond our local region but also more importantly it’s reached people in our own community who didn’t even know that we existed, despite advertising by traditional methods and taking part in local events.
Facebook is where it’s at!
As a boutique people tend to have preconceived ideas that we are going to be posh, intimidating and very expensive. Facebook has been just the best tool for us to let people see who we are and what we are about before they need to step over our door. It has let potential customers become real customers as they can see from our page that far from being ‘posh’ we’re just two local women who are passionate about what we do and also passionate about our customers and our town.
They can see that our price range is varied, our stock is varied and our sizes are varied. Having that knowledge has made it so much easier for them to actually physically visit. We try to mix up our Facebook page as nobody likes to be bombarded by adverts or posts pushing people to buy. It has become slightly harder recently to reach as many people as we used to as Facebook seems to restrict how many people can see our posts, but it is still very much part of our day.
We aim to be consistent and we post at least once but usually twice a day. We limit our posts to a maximum of 3 in a day and experience has taught us to post at times when our customers are likely to be looking at Facebook. Our first post will go on at around 7am (scheduling is a great thing!) . Most people pick their phone up first thing in the morning and check Facebook. Generally our next post will be about 4.45 / 5pm when everyone is getting finished work, again one of the first things people do when they get on the bus or train or when they get home is check Facebook. If we get a delivery in the morning we try and post a photo to show it at lunchtime and hopefully that will encourage some afternoon sales. If we have a general post that we want to put up we try and do that about 8.30 / 9pm, another busy time for Facebook.
We try to make sure that every post is accompanied by a photo and while we try not to edit what we say too much, people need to know that it is your voice and that you are not just copying other Facebook posts – trust me they know if it’s you or not, we do ensure that we don’t say anything that could be pushy or offensive etc. Facebook has let us build a community and our ‘Covettes’ definitely feel part of that, the great thing about that is that they view us not as a shop but as an extension of their friends. This goes a long way to creating loyalty to our business.
Twitter for Business
Twitter has also been a great tool, and although we still reach customers through Twitter it has proved to be a great way to create links with the business community. This can lead to all sorts of opportunities for your business. We generally tweet whatever we have posted on Facebook, however we don’t use any tools to share our post to twitter, people hate following the link that takes them to Facebook.
Instagram for Retail
Instagram is the other platform that we use although to be honest we don’t use it enough, a fact we are trying to remedy. Any kind of online presence for our kind of business really needs to be more visual than anything else so Instagram is perfect. With Twitter and Instagram try to ensure the good use of hashtags, think about what words you would use to search for the items that you sell. Also the better your photos – the better a response you will get.
My best advice is be honest about who you are and don’t be overly pushy. Plan ahead and think about what you want your customer to see, think about what would make them visit your business.
There is a lot of ‘noise’ on all social media platforms so it pays to think outside the box a little and try to come up with something that will grab people’s attention. We have found that theming our posts really works, for example we try and put a post up every day that has a photo of something that we have in store and the only text we put is “Today we’re loving….”
People now actively look forward to see what we’re loving! It’s simple but effective strategy that works for us.