Tesco has claimed impressive sales figures generated through social media. How can other retailers learn from this?

Tesco on Twitter

Tesco customer care

In February Retail Week reported Tesco’s clothing division generated £1.5m of sales via social media in the previous 12 months.

Ben Potter, commercial director at digital marketing agency Leapfrogg, sees Tesco’s successful use of social media as an exception. “There is an apparent lack of planning and understanding when it comes to social media execution,” he says. “Companies need to establish objectives, as with any marketing activity, to fully realise the benefits of engaging with customers this way - something Tesco does well.”

Tesco has focused its use of Twitter and Facebook into key areas where followers and fans can interact with influential people in fashion. As well improving sales, it uses social media to develop its reputation as a fashion retailer.

Social media can drive sales, deliver brand awareness and engagement, and improve search engine optimisation. Before getting creative, objectives and measurement must be set. As always, content is king - not only in social media, but within the entire digital marketing strategy.

Potter says a centralised social media plan, aligned to wider marketing plans, messages and financial objectives, is essential. “It’s important to set targets, such as the number of followers, number of pieces of coverage a year secured and number of new relationships with media developed,” he says.

He adds that retailers need to make social media interactive, using product reviews, video content and deals. “With channels such as FCommerce [Facebook commerce] emerging, we’re likely to see an even higher investment into social media.”

He believes that education is needed to understand the role social media plays in business strategy; such as aligning it with sales and marketing initiatives and processes, and dealing with complaints.