It is right and essential for retailers to invest more heavily in social media in the war for customers. But what use is all this interaction when we still get the basics wrong and on a daily basis alienate existing and potential customers?

This week I am twittering on about social media, a platform that is easily accessible to anyone with internet or mobile access.

It allows you to increase your brand awareness and serves as a relatively inexpensive platform to implement marketing campaigns and there are of course myriad ways to interact with your customer whether through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or blogs, to name but

a few.

Many retailers are now using various social media platforms to engage and interact with their customers and according to the gurus at Retail Week, Asos is generally brilliant, Marks & Spencer is good and Asda’s press office is very active on Twitter and innovates by showing some of its factories live online.

But as we all know, interacting with your customer is not always straightforward, as Target in the US found out when it made a political donation and 53,000 people signed up to a Boycott Target campaign on Facebook in the space of a week. If you make a gaffe these days it will go viral.

It is right and essential for retailers to invest more heavily in social media in the war for customers. But what use is all this interaction when we still get the basics wrong and on a daily basis alienate existing and potential customers.

A friend of mine’s daughter recently went for a recruitment assessment day with a major fashion retail chain (which she loved as a customer) only to subsequently receive (alongside numerous others) a bog-standard ‘regret’ letter.

It left her feeling underwhelmed and disenfranchised. Why not personalise a reply, thanking her for her keen interest in the brand and her past custom and, although it was not to be this time, enhancing the relationship by including a discount voucher to try to ease the disappointment and help retain her as a shopper?

One other thing to be aware of is that by utilising social media you suddenly blur the barriers between personal and professional life. If you would like to tweet me @theretailguru I will ‘out’ the senior member of the team at Retail Week who is following Keith Chegwin.