Social media has become one of the primary marketing tools of the modern age, lauded for its function as a grassroots awareness-raising tool, its facilitation of direct communication with people who could benefit from exposure to your company, and the ability of its platforms to generate a sense of community. Vape consumers are well-aware of social media’s benefits and are avid users, further highlighting the centrality of a solid social media strategy to the increased exposure of your vape store.
While social media is free to use, it’s still necessary to dedicate resources to your online presence. An effective social media strategy, one that will truly increase the exposure of your vape store, requires research, planning, energy, creativity, time and, in some cases, strong technical skills.
Many vape companies hire a person or team to manage their social media accounts, especially once they expand enough to absorb the associated costs, but we teamed up with social media expert Daniela Vazquez of Welpi to offer a few in-depth tips that you can utilize to support the growth of your vape shop.
1. Understand and target your audience
Of course, it’s incredibly important to first consider who you want to reach via social media, and which platforms they’re using. The vape community is very active on Instagram, a forum aptly credited with spawning the very creation of this community. Another platform with a good vaper presence is Twitter, though it’s not nearly as robust or consumer-oriented. The good news is that both of these platforms rely heavily on hashtags, which are an extremely effective way to observe the activity, trends, and interests of a specifically-targeted audience (or to learn more about which audience you want to specifically target!) Once you understand the interests of your audience, you can utilize the same hashtags to increase the visibility of your posts, and even create your own so consumers can find a stockpile of information about your company.
Having a Facebook page, while important for helping consumers find your vape shop’s location and hours, as well as giving them the ability to leave reviews and therefore gifting yourself and prospective customers with customer-generated feedback, is not necessarily where you want to spend most of your time. Due to Facebook’s ban on vape-related sponsored ads, it’s not likely your reach will extend very far without the help of a social media professional.
“With each platform comes a unique opportunity to convey your message through different styles of communication; some are primarily text-based, others rely more heavily on images, and some are for videos,” Daniela advises. Review existing content and get creative about gaps your company can fill by developing a plan of action.
2. Curate your content
In order to truly reach your intended audience, it’s important to have content that is appealing specifically to those you want to reach—probably a mix of current vapers, prospective vapers/current cigarette smokers, and locals in your area for whom social media can serve as an introduction to your business and community.
Your vape shop’s social media strategy should reflect a healthy dose of branding; highlight what makes you stand out and post content that is consistent with your central messaging. Daniela recommends: “Define what your brand or store stands for and what that looks like to you, including logo, fonts, and pantone colors. Firstly, this makes it easier to promote yourself, rather than constantly having to reimagine. Secondly, this facilitates brand recognition.”
“Keep in mind that simply stating a fact or occasionally sharing an article does not qualify as successful interaction,” Daniela shares. “The most shared content across Social Media platforms is usually of visual content.” Of course, the imaging you use (from photographs to graphics and videos) should not only be consistent with your messaging, but consistent in and of itself; select a few themes that reflect your brand and run with them. For example, Vape Organics relies heavily on nature-based imaging to reinforce our brand as natural, as well as photos of “clouds” to engage one prospective audience of cloud-chasers, highlighting the cloud production of our 100% VG e-liquid.
Be sure to post and re-post trending and company-related content to keep information fresh in your audience’s minds. When re-posting from another social media user, make sure to generate slightly different introductory text than the original post and always offer credit to the original poster. Re-posting is a great way to outsource some (but certainly not all) of your content creation, while potentially strengthening connections with those from whom you outsource. For example, some of the brands you carry in your vape shop will have a great selection of product photos that you can use for dual-promotional purposes.
3. Engage, and in a timely fashion
“Social Media is about engaging with the audience and creating long-term, loyal relationships,” Daniela explains. “This means posting throughout the day, scheduling posts for out-of-office hours, designing valuable content, responding to audience interactions, developing a larger following, and being consistent in the postings—365 days a year,” she elaborates.
It is of the utmost importance to respond to comments or messages left on social media platforms within 12-24 hours at most to ensure your audience stays engaged. Time is of the essence, and the stronger your presence on social media, the more likely you are to see a return on your social media investment. If consumers are left with unanswered questions, there’s a good chance they will take their business elsewhere in our era of instant gratification, and there is certainly no shortage of competing vape shops, including online vape stores.
Supporters of your vape shop who post content about your business always appreciate a re-post to likewise enhance their exposure. This is a crucial way to increase the level of your engagement, and hashtags are invaluable for finding this company-specific content. Of course, offering your audience incentives for visiting your vape shop or site is another way to actively engage. For example, showing a rare and high-quality product that you stock and that’s otherwise difficult to find, special events held in-shop, or even membership discounts, can help secure extended and deeper opportunities for engagement with your audience.
Networking is undoubtedly key, and part of your social media strategy should entail engagement with “key industry players and, if possible, the allocation of a budget for promotional services, especially photographs, from those with a trusted, respected and relevant social media presence,” Daniela advises.
4. Hold giveaways on Instagram
Although giveaways could be nestled into the above section, they’re so important to increasing exposure and enhancing your following that we’ll designate a whole section to this type of promotional engagement.
Giveaways usually transpire in one of two ways:
- You generate a combined image/graphic post featuring your logo, the word “giveaway” and the prize offered. Anyone who enters the giveaway must be following you, and must repost the image with company-specific hashtags.
- You generate a giveaway-specific post and ask people to enter by tagging other users/friends who might be interested in this giveaway opportunity.
Of course, the first option is better for increasing your following but keep in mind that many consumers also curate their pages and would not want to post imaging that looks too amateur, cluttered, or otherwise clashes with the look of their page. Make sure you dedicate enough time and resources into the image you use so that it not only catches vapers’ eyes, but also is appealing enough to re-post.
Maximize your reach by partnering with other companies for the giveaway, which they can do by adding to the prize package! If all partners to the giveaway post the image, you can maximize the reach of your giveaway significantly.
While the FDA has forbidden the distribution of free samples of most vapor products, one creative solution Vape Organics developed is the offering of coupon codes so that the winner enjoys 50% off of the prize package.
Social media offers information that’s priceless for you in fine-tuning your business and outreach model, so be sure to take the time to evaluate this information on a regular basis. Take it from Daniela: “Social media generates data daily to help business owners acquire information about who their customers are, what they like and how they feel about your brand. Why do you need this as a business owner? To help you constantly improve your operations process and make your customers happy.”
Of course, it’s also crucial to evaluate the efficacy of your social media strategy in meeting your original company goals, such as increased exposure and enhanced sales. “Social Media analytics don’t look like other analyses. There is a stereotype out there that there’s a link between the number of likes and dollars that come through the door. That doesn’t mean that Social Media doesn’t produce any valuable ROI (return on investment), however it is important to understand the relationship between engagement and sales, expenditures on ads to click-through rates, etc.,” Daniela advises.
Indeed, as Daniela says, “Social media offers marketers a faster way to reach a large number of existing and prospective customers in a short amount of time.” However, this must be done strategically to be effective.
If you’re interested in discussing the benefits of hiring a social media manager, including leveraging social media to help increase website traffic and attain a higher search ranking, you can email Daniela at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website for more information.