Understanding the Power and Challenges of Social Media

April 26, 2018

As technology continues to advance at a frantic pace, retailers are facing a new reality and a host of unfamiliar challenges.

Simply put, technologies and social media platforms that didn’t exist 15 years ago are now essential to business success. In 2003, the world had not yet heard of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat, and the first iPhone didn’t hit the market until 2007. Today, all of the above are — or should be — incorporated into any business or communications strategy.

For retail leaders, it can be challenging to stay current on these advances, and even harder successfully utilize them. Yet, that is precisely what today’s shoppers demand, and as recent events have shown, the expectations are only growing. Increasingly, shoppers want businesses to serve their needs — spoken and unspoken — while ensuring a wide range of protections to their privacy.

Helping retailers get a handle on this new world of digital communication and how it impacts the future of retail was the precise goal behind a broad social media study organized by one of the most recent North American Coca-Cola Retailing Research Councils. The report was split into eight parts to allow readers to segment the topic and dive into specific needs — from gaining a basic understanding of social media, to creating structure for internal and external communication, to a survey of shopper attitudes on how businesses should use social media.

Although technology and the use of social media have continued to evolve in the four years since the report was released, many of the foundational issues the report examines are still both extremely relevant and useful, especially for companies that continue to struggle in this important new arena.

The report, Untangling the Social Web: Insights for Users, Brands and Retailers can be found here. As with all reports from the Coca-Cola Councils, it can be downloaded for free.