Disclaimer: I am not a professional. All comments come from my personal experiences and observations, and this blog is purely for academic purposes.
Need fresh ideas for reaching a broader audience? Are you interested in the digital strategies and media tactics that could help drive business and encourage Ohio University students to take a stop in your store? Here’s a look at the social media techniques used by several clothing boutiques in Athens. The best part is these strategies can also be applied to a variety of businesses including restaurants,dining, bookstores and specialization stores such as gift shops, craft stores and costume shops.
When thinking of the stores on and surrounding Court Street, there’s a variety of customers and owners. Many would believe each store takes a completely different approach to reach their target audience. Surprisingly, this is far fetched.
After extensive research and vast increments of my time being used to creep through the shops social media, I was surprised to find most of the strategies used by the local owners were extremely similar. The strategies that many stores use often seem to be working well, and unfortunately the mistakes and painful errors were frequently used across the board. Let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly digital promotion approaches used by many local Athens shops.
Artifacts Gallery is a local clothing shop located at 2 W. State Street., Athens, OH. This store uses Instagram and Facebook as their strongest social media pages. Some techniques used on the Instagram page included using a white background when taking photos of the apparel. Using a white background, or sticking with a common theme, is useful because people enjoy images that are pleasant to the eye.
Facebook is also used by keeping active with posts that do not only relate to their store and products. Using a personalized approach and occasional videos help keep interest in followers, causing them to be more engaged when looking at a media post.
Unfortunately, Artifacts Gallery could use some work on their Twitter page. Twitter is accessible and sharable, but that is not how it is used. Instead, the tweets only link to Instagram posts, and their customer interaction to assist with product feedback or other related questions. Also, the Instagram could afford to involve a few models when marketing their t-shirts and other apparel. Having a real person involved in media posts allows customers, and especially college students, to be more engaged.
The only issue that struck me hard when viewing Artifacts Gallery’s social media pages was the excessive hashtagging. Yes, I understand many people were told to use hashtags to draw in more likes and assist in SEO, but sometimes less is more. My best advice is to use hashtags appropriately and understand that quality really can mean more than quantity.
This trendy local shop focuses on targeting the typical college girl who wishes she was in walking distance to a mall. Bluetique is located 19 W. State Street., Athens, OH. Bluetique does an excellent job promoting their store through a strong social media presence. Their social media is a triple-threat, and maybe more. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are all used constantly and appropriately to reach a variety of customers in the Athens area. Bluetique is also one of the few local shops that has started using Pinterest, which is very smart since many Ohio University women have joined on the Pinterest bandwagon when collaborating ideas.
There’s no doubt that Bluetique thought about the social media tactics they wanted to use. Overall, their pages are professional and engaging. Gabby Summers, a Bluetique employee, said students and workers are often used to pose in their clothes and accessories because it helps make the posts more personal and attracts a larger audience. All Instagram posts are similar because they use a theme and specific lighting location in the store. The owner has also invested in a wallpaper like background that looks like a wooden floor to assist in making the products stand out and keep a professional theme.
Instagram and Twitter are also used to promote sales and positions for hire. The Bluetique Facebook page is a strong presence because they share events and other posts on their page to engage with customers. More frequent tweets would help them reach a wider audience. Videos and a cover photo with girls from Ohio University in their clothing gives the site a more personal approach, which is excellent when trying to find new customers and grow as a shop in a college town.
Although they use similar content among all platforms, especially by reusing Instagram photos, the Bluetique social media techniques are definitely appropriate for most local business. Their techniques drive business and gain OU students as loyal customers.
Figleaf Boutique is a company that can be found in several college orientated towns, such as Kent, Columbus and Athens. The Athens location can be found at 57 N. Court Street., Athens, OH. Due to the larger presence this boutique has in other cities, their social media techniques are also updated and frequently used to reach OU students.
Figleaf is smart by using Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter in creative ways. All their sites maintain a professional setting, and the links on Instagram photos, Pinterest pins, tweets and Facebook posts are directly to their official website. This is extremely important because it increases availability and sales. Many college students, and specifically OU students, don’t like feeling rushed if they can’t make it to the local shops during their daily hours. Having a website that is promoted daily through social media is an excellent technique which could potentially benefit all local shops.
— Figleaf Boutique (@FigleafBoutique) March 20, 2017
It’s also apparent that Figleaf knows and understands their target audience which is the trendy college girl. They understand how to reach girls needing dresses and accessories for date parties and other social events through all medias. The also reach the parents of many OU girls whose parents are on the lookout for trends and sales on Facebook. Their Facebook content is slightly altered to engage a different group, which is smart since their Facebook audience has relations with their target audience.
The best advice for Figleaf Boutique is to be more interactive on Twitter with customers and keep the variety between their different media sites because it does make a huge difference.
This lingerie store is located at 13 W. Union Street, Athens, OH. Truthfully visiting the store is the best way to have any idea about their apparel and products. Honey lacks much of any social media presence. They have very few followers across the board, and they have few posts.
Honey’s Instagram has not posted since December, which is poor for almost any company in 2017. This is extremely disappointing since they are targeting OU students, who more often than not use Instagram daily. In fact, according to a Pew Research Center study, 90 percent of American adults aged 18 to 29 use social media. As a local shop targeting this specific group, it’s best they amp up their social media presence and begin to focus on the successful tactics available to boost business.
However, the one good thing Honey does with their social media is their use of Facebook. There are several more posts and more interaction on their Facebook page, and they even post links and articles to other sources. Outside sourcing to relatable content is a fantastic marketing tactic that many small, local businesses are afraid to test. Although this is very different than other trends among local shops in Athens, this out of ordinary social media technique would be worth a shot for other stores. Many stores and websites appreciate interaction from one another, and promoting a different store potentially brings new customers if the favor is returned.
The Other Place
The Other Place is another trendy store focusing on women’s clothing, accessories and gift items. This boutique can be found at 43 S. Court Street, Athens, OH. This college town shop engages with OU students on a variety of platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The owner has recently teamed up with the Scripps’ Impressions team, which has developed a few new techniques to boost business and student interaction among social media.
The Other Place is beginning to use real OU students to model their apparel in hopes to promote a real life experience and receive more engagement from friends and family members of the girls featured in the photos and posts. Another exciting social media tactic is the startup of a WordPress site to allow blogs about trends and styles that can be created from the apparel and accessories in the store.
Other social media ideas that are common and effective include using Twitter constantly and posting promotional sales and hirings on their sites. When linking, it could be more effective to link to a store site, but instead they link back to their Facebook. This technique could be useful in reaching a different group of OU students, but there’s limited interaction on the Facebook page. Limited feedback and limited posting on both Facebook and Twitter may be the cause for the lack of followers, or vice versa.
10 West Clothing Co.
The new local shop, 10 West Clothing Co. is located at 10 W. Union Street., Athens, OH, and the store is known for selling new and nearly new name brand clothes. Their store specializes in making trendy clothes affordable for the college students in Athens.
As any new store in the area would do, they post quite often in order to gain followers, likes and attention in general. They use Instagram as their best social media platform by posting photos of their clothes, information about sales and funny memes in order to give it a personal feel. Unfortunately, their photography skills could still use some assistance to stand out and be more appealing to customers.
BOGO FREE!!! @10westclothingco and our sister store @uptowndogts have joined up for Sidewalk sales going on outside 10 West Clothing Co. Come enjoy the beautiful warm day with us! ???? #shoplocalforless #sidewalksales #tshirts #dresses #tanktops #bestsalesever #buyonegetoneFREE #athens #sunnyday #10westunion #ohiouniversity
Another bad habit constantly used on their social media pages includes linking directly to Instagram only. Their interaction with customers and the shop’s creativity spreading content is lacking. A few alterations and more variety on all platforms would make a huge difference and advance 10 W. Clothing Co.’s business and appeal to OU students.
In conclusion, local businesses shouldn’t be afraid to try new things, such as promotional events or blogs. Using OU students for modeling clothes, or holding events, engages other students, friends and family increasing publicity and social media awareness. Ohio University faculty could also be a wise partner for events and social media promotion because they carry respect and people have a tendency to shop at local places if they have heard good reviews from people they personally know.
Spreading content creatively and using all media platforms allows local business to reach their max audience and customers. Sometimes, different platforms require, or strive, from a different form of media. Balancing videos, photos and text increasing attention for OU students interested in the local stores because millennials expect businesses to be up-to-date and use social media in a multitude of ways. Also, owners should not be afraid to dip their feet in and try using more than Facebook. Learning how to tweet and pin information is very important to a successful media platform because Twitter and Pinterest are the most shareable content sites.
Finally, keeping a professional look to all platforms makes a huge difference. Photography skills matter. Good lighting, backgrounds, using models instead of mannequins and keeping a constant theme makes a huge difference. Frequent posts are most effective when they are put together and consistent. Keeping digital media in correlation with college students’ expectations allows businesses to increase sales and encourages OU students to shop at the local stores around Athens.