Social media is 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 necessary to dedicate resources to your online presence. 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 I 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 company.
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 active on Instagram, a forum largely credited with the very creation of this very community. Another platform with a good vaper presence is Twitter, though it’s not nearly as robust or consumer-oriented. Fortunately, 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 hashtags so consumers can find, and add to, a stockpile of information about your company.
Having a Facebook page, while important for helping consumers find your location and hours, as well as facilitating 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 dedicated 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 you 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 specifically appealing to those you want to reach—probably a mix of current vapers, prospective vapers (i.e. current cigarette smokers), and locals in your area for whom social media can serve as an introduction.
Your 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—making it easier to promote yourself, rather than constantly having to reimagine, and facilitating brand recognition.”
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 account, make sure to generate slightly different introductory text than the original post and always offer credit to your source. 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 available 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, 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 to ensure your audience stays engaged. Timely engagement is essential and increases your chances for a return on your investment. If consumers are left with unanswered questions, there’s a good chance they’ll take their business elsewhere.
Networking is undoubtedly key. 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. Of course, offering your audience incentives for visiting your vape shop is another way to actively engage. For example, showcasing a rare and high-quality product in your store that’s otherwise difficult to find, announcing special events held in-shop, or even membership discounts, all can help secure deeper opportunities for engagement with your audience.
4. Instagram Giveaways
Although giveaways could be nestled into the above section, they’re so important to increasing exposure and enhancing your following that this type of promotional engagement deserves special attention.
Giveaways usually transpire in one of two ways:
a. Generate a post featuring your logo, the word “giveaway” and the prize offered. Anyone who enters the giveaway must be following you and re-post the image with company-specific hashtags.
b. Generate a giveaway-specific post and ask people to enter by tagging other users who might be interested.
Of course, option “a” increases your following, but keep in mind that many consumers also curate their pages and won’t 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 your image so that it both catches vapers’ eyes and is appealing enough to re-post.
Maximize your reach by partnering with other companies for the giveaway, by having them contribute to the prize package! If all partners to the giveaway post the image, you can increase your reach significantly. While the FDA has forbidden the distribution of free samples of most vapor products, it’s certainly possible to develop creative solutions, including coupon codes.
Social media offers information that’s priceless in fine-tuning your business and outreach model, so be sure 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 goals. “Social media analytics don’t look like other analyses. There is a stereotype 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 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. SVBS
Sheerlie Ryngler is the Creative Director and Compliance Coordinator at Vape Organics, the first and only USDA-certified organic e-liquid line. A native of Los Angeles, Sheerlie has traveled extensively, receiving her BA in International Relations and MA in Conflict Resolution. She has been a passionate activist for a number of causes around the world; since mid-2014 Sheerlie has focused her attention on raising awareness in the vape community and promoting standards of excellence in the vape industry. Please feel free to contact Sheerlie at [email protected] or visit her website at www.pureorganicvapors.com.
Daniela Vazquez is a Social Media Strategist for Welpi Online Marketing, an agency she co-founded. She has developed successful social media presences for various companies, with a specialization in the vape industry since September 2015. Daniela is passionate about helping to increase the exposure of vape companies, a community she advocates for. Daniela holds a B.A. in Applied Arts and Sciences from San Diego State University. Read more about her offerings at www.welpi.com and reach out to her for a free social media consultation at [email protected] / (619) 207-4502.