May 6, 2013, 9:12 AM

Social media connects Top 500 retailers to their customers

After all, that’s where shoppers spend much of their time online.

Lead Photo

Of course Target Corp. has stores where red shirt-wearing, khaki pants-clad employees interact with shoppers. But Facebook and other social networks provide another way for the multichannel retailer to connect with consumers, including those who don’t live near a Target store.  

After all, social networks are where many of the customers of Target and any retailer spend much of their time online. Facebook and other social networks account for 20% of the time consumers spend on a PC and 30% of their time on a mobile device, according to a recent Nielsen Co. report.

That’s why Target, No. 18 in the new 2013 edition of the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, has aggressively sought to garner Likes of its Facebook page. Target encourages shoppers to Like its Facebook page by posting special discounts, highlighting products, and drumming up conversations with posts like “Once warmer weather hits, what's the first thing to come out?  A. Your grill B. Flip flops C. Tank tops D. Your gardening skills E. Drink umbrellas.” That post alone garnered nearly 6,200 Likes. Each Like of a Facebook post helps expose more consumers to its brand because Facebook users see a selection of their friends’ interactions with other Facebook pages in their news feed, the first page they see when logging on to the social network.

The result of Target’s efforts is nearly 21.9 million Likes of its Facebook page, behind only Starbucks (34.4 million) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (28.8 million) among retailers in the Top 500 Guide. Target also has nearly 546,000 Twitter followers, which ranks 13th among Top 500 Guide retailers.

“Social media is an important part of the way in which we seek to connect with our guests,” says a spokeswoman for the retailer. “Our social channels aim to balance building brand love through guest engagement, storytelling and great content while also serving as a resource to enhance the Target shopping experience.”

To make it easy for shoppers to share products with their friends on social media, Target, like 331 other Top 500 Guide retailers, features a Like button on its product pages. It also has a Tweet button (as do 325 other Top 500 retailers), a Pinterest Pin it button (as do 307 other Top 500 retailers), a Google+ +1 button (as do 265 other Top 500 retailers) and an E-mail A Friend button (as do 351 other Top 500 retailers).

Beyond those basic features, Target also seeks to get shoppers’ attention on social media by offering original content via its daily online news magazine, A Bullseye View. The news magazine has its own web site, ABullseyeView.com, and Twitter handle @ABullseyeView. It also has a Pinterest page with more than 46,700 followers who see what the spokeswoman says are the “places, designs, food, quotes and styles and patterns” that Target loves (Target ranks 29th among Top 500 retailers in Pinterest followers), as well as a fashion and beauty-focused Tumblr page.

As more consumers interact with the brand on social media, the retailer hears more unfiltered feedback—both good and bad—from consumers, says the spokeswoman. “Social media enables Target to connect with guests in ways that are meaningful to them,” she says.

To read previous Top 500 Insider stories, click here.

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