If you’re running a reptile shop and aren’t using social media to promote it, you’re really missing out.
Use social media correctly, and you’ll build your brand, bring in more loyal customers, and set yourself apart from the competition. Keep in mind, if you use it incorrectly, you could end up doing the exact opposite.
Check out this simple guide to learn a few of the best social media marketing tips, and you’ll be able to quickly understand how you can boost your business.
Social Media for Reptile Shops: 80/20 Rule
Before you even get started reading all the great tips for each individual platform, you need to understand your followers don’t want all of your updates to be a sales pitch. If you’re constantly selling at them, you’re going to lose followers. Lose out on followers, and you’ll likely lose out on sales!
This is why it’s important to keep the 80/20 rule in mind. Roughly 80% of your content should focus on actually engaging with your audience, offering content relevant to their interests, and interacting with them on a personal level. The other 20% of your content can be used to promote your business.
" Remember the 80/20 rule: 80% of your content should focus on audience engagement. 20% should promote your business." [Tweet This]
Social Media for Reptile Shops: Personalize Your Brand
- Give your customers a “behind-the-scenes” glimpse - Sharing photos of what goes on behind the cages (so-to-speak) in your shop adds a personal element to your brand. Not only does this make your shop seem more relatable, fun, and approachable, but it also increases the likelihood your posts being shared. Visual posts are shared most often across all social media channels.
Share candid shots of employees, pictures of animals being fed, the delicious tray of cupcakes someone left in the breakroom…anything that shows your customers you’re more than just a faceless place of business.
- Include an interesting bio – They already know you’re a reptile shop. So, ditch the boring bio everyone else uses and write something that really shows off the personality of your team. Don’t forget to add a link to your shop!
- Let your personality shine - Whether you have a freelancer, socialmedia manager, or regular employee in charge of your social media, make sure your brand’s personality shines through loud and clear. A great caption or status can make all the difference between 1 and 10, 000 likes. I mean, let’s face it – nobody likes to read the same, bland content multiple shops use. “Hi, we are a shop. We’ve got this, this, and this type of reptile. We’ve got this type of product on sale. Come stop by.”
Boring, right? Completely! So, instead, be sure to show personality in your status updates, link shares, and photo captions.
The same thing goes for comments, too. Make sure you’re not just using some copy-paste comment for everyone you’re interacting with on your social media pages. Instead, take the extra few moments to write out a custom, thoughtful, comment that is specifically tailored to the individual you’re talking to. It really makes a difference, and definitely sets you apart from the other multitude of reptile shops on social media.
- Don’t forget the hashtags – If you use hashtags strategically, you stand to bring in a bunch of new followers. Use hashtags often, and make sure they’re relevant to your target audience. For instance, it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to be tagging things like #girlsnightout and #PokemonGO when your audience follows you for reptiles and reptile-related products/updates/news/tips/advice/photos.
Social Media for Reptile Shops: Instagram
As a specialized pet retailer, you’re selling something very specific. This means you should have a specific target audience you’re selling to. Think about it for a second – what kind of pictures would your specific audience most want to see?
- Have a theme - Once you’ve come up with an idea of what your audience wants to see – or at least narrowed it down to a Top 3 list – it’s time to build your profile to reflect that. For instance, if you’re selling wet terrariums and wet terrarium accessories, you can bet your target audience includes people who own animals like Green Tree Frogs, Red Bellied Toads, Fire Bellied Frogs, African Dwarf Frogs, and Fire Bellied Newts. Know this, you can keep a “frogs and toads” theme in mind (with other amphibians tossed in for variety) to make sure every picture you share appeals to your target audience.
By maintaining this central theme (as opposed to just posting pictures of all sorts of reptiles and amphibians, along with your terrariums), you’re a million times more likely to be giving your target audience something that is directly relevant to their interests and needs. This boosts your follower-brand engagement, and is more likely to turn your followers into happy customers.
- Use hashtags in your posts - Once you’ve figured out your target audience, and the type of theme you’re going to use to draw them in, try to think of what type of hashtags your followers are likely to use and search for. For instance, a target audience of Argentine Tegu owners may use hashtags like “#argentinetegu”, “#blackandwhitetegu”, “#lovemytegu”, or “#exoticpet.” Once you’ve got a good idea of the tags your followers are most likely to use, you can search for those tags. From there, you can interact with the users who are posting them – boosting the chances of your account gaining followers, comments, and likes.
If you don’t want to clutter up your photo caption with a bunch of hashtags, you can always put them all in a comment on the picture. This makes the hashtags still searchable, but they don’t clutter your caption.
Instagram lets you use up to 30 hashtags, but this really is excessive. It’s best to stick to 5 to 10 targeted hashtags for each post, maybe 12 to 15 if you have a special event or offer to promote. In general, though, it’s best to stick to under 10 hastags.
To make things easier on your followers, incorporate the hashtags naturally into the sentence, like this: “Today’s #reptile photo shows our newest #crestedgecko.” (Except, you know, something a bit more interesting.) You can also just list all the hashtags at the end.
- Know when to post – There really doesn’t seem to be a plummet in engagement if people post multiple times per day. Many major brands post roughly 1 to 2 times per day, but many brands have also learned that sharing up to a whopping 10 times per day still maintains their engagement. Sharing 3 to 4 times per week is a happy medium, and doesn’t require an overload of effort to keep it up.
For a great example of how to set up an effective Instagram profile, check out how Zoo Med Laboratories has theirs set up:
Interesting bio? Check!
Their bio tells their customers how long they have been around (showcases expertise), but does so in a value-driven way. Rather than placing emphasis on their retailer or supplier aspects, they emphasize the fact they help save your reptiles. What better way to show how much they care about more than just profits? Their bio also includes a prominent link to their website.
Obvious theme? Check!
Videos and images are both featured, and they include a variety of reptile-related products, animals, and information. This content is definitely aimed at their target audience, yet is done in a way that isn’t pushy or overly promotional.
Interesting, valuable content? Check!
They’ve included some humor in there, some cute pictures, and some promotional content. The ratio of 80/20 is clearly being used, and their images are eye-catching and engaging. Clicking on any of the images/videos will show you they use industry-related hashtags and keywords. They engage with their followers, and definitely have some neat content to share.
Social Media for Reptile Shops: Facebook
Facebook is a great platform for connecting to a wide range of audiences. Most people are on Facebook, so it’s a pretty safe bet you will be able to reach members of your target audience (and some extra audience members) on there. What’s especially great about this platform is you can connect with people of all ages, from kids to families, to young people, to seniors.
- “Caption this” image contests - Images are the most shared, liked, and commented on type of content on all of Facebook (followed closely by video content.) You can leverage this content popularity when it comes to your social media strategy. Take some silly, cute, or striking images to use in “Caption this!” type posts.
- Share short videos – Share videos with your followers. These could be how-to videos (such as how to feed a Chamaeleo gracilis), videos that demonstrate or show off your products, footage of a recent expedition, or some highlights from an event.
Exo Terra recently shared some footage of an expedition to the continent of Africa. This video has 20 shares so far. Check out this screenshot of another one of their videos - This video compilation of the Exo Terra research in Madagascar has 8k views, 158 shares, 12 comments, and 256 reactions.
- Engage with your customers – Connect with your customers, and get people talking. Not only does this make for some interesting discussion, but it also builds a sense of community, which facilitates customer-brand relationships and trust. By asking and responding to questions – especially offering advice and helpful tips – you present yourself as an industry authority.
Questions are an excellent social media tactic for pretty much all industries, but work especially well when it comes to reptile shops. Your target audience is made up of reptile enthusiasts. Your audience isn’t just enthusiastic about owning reptiles, or looking at pictures of them – they love to talk about them, too!
Some questions you could ask include:
1) What type of reptile do you own? Share pictures in the comments below!
2) Some reptile enthusiasts are proponents of reptiles being used as therapy pets. What do you guys think?
3) If money was no object, what type of reptile/amphibian/invertebrate would you own?
- Encourage customers to share images – of them using your products. This gives them a bit of fame, customer appreciation, and shows you actually care about your customers. Share their photos, talk about them, and encourage others to comment. This is a great way to build up some word-of-mouth marketing.
- Share your newest product – but don’t be overly promotional.
Once again, Exo Terra is great at this. They share their latest product, but their page is also full of other great content. They have video and images of the recent Reptile Super Show, a picture of Exo Terra Brand Manager Emmanuel Van Heygen educating a Masaai woman, neat pictures of reptiles, and some images of their recent expedition.
If you’re having an exclusive deal, offer, or group deal, this is a great place to showcase it. In fact, you can leverage that offer to get more people to “Like” your Facebook page. You could have them “like” your page in order to be entered to cash in on a discount, or to be entered to win a great product.
Social Media for Reptile Shops: Twitter
One of the great things about Twitter is how easy the platform makes it to connect with your customers quickly, personally, and in a fun way. You can type out a quick status update, add emojis, share links, and even share .gifs (animated images). You can also track how many people have seen and engaged with each post.
Twitter is also great for a variety of other things, such as a customer service method. Check out these great ways to connect with your customers on Twitter:
- Hashtags - Hashtags are practically everything when it comes to Twitter. Without them, you’re severely limiting the audience of your posts. Not only do they boost the visibility of your posts, but they also provide a way for people with similar interests to join an open discussion in a chat session. These are really popular, and many businesses use them as a marketing tactic within their industry niche.
You canuse the hashtags customers are searching for (provided they relate to your post), such as #reptiles, #beardeddragon, or #livefood
You can also use hashtags specific to a campaign you are running, or to your store. For example, the Northampton Reptile Centre uses the tags #northamptonreptilecentre and #reptilecentre in nearly every post.
- Mentions – If a customer shares a product shot, or does something else you want to thank them for, you can mention them directly with “@[theirhandle].
- Share exclusive deals and promotions - Twitter is great for this. Just like on Facebook, you can offer your Twitter followers exclusive deals or offers. Create a discount code for a special deal, and then create a post for it on Twitter. Include a link for the product/offer that is Twitter-specific, and that drives them directly to your online store. Have them enter in the special word to claim their discount.
- Share husbandry and care tips – You don’t want to only share products and promotional content, you know. Shake things up (and demonstrate your industry authority) by tweeting some short tips about reptile husbandry and care. You can even link back to a relevant blog post for further reading.
For example, you could tweet about:
1) Common snake problems , such as mites or a mild RI.
2) How to trim an Iguana’s nails
3) Ways to gut-load crickets, mealworms, locusts, superworms, etc.
4) Tons more!
- Share relevant, helpful content - You can retweet articles related to reptiles and reptile care, content shared by influencers within your industry, the posts in which customers mention you, and pet-related news. You can also share your own blog posts and articles, but be mindful of the 80/20 rule.
Include contact info in your header image – This tactic is often overlooked. Take the opportunity to use this free space to quickly give people your contact information. Make sure it’s readable – not too big or too small. Canva is great for creating Twitter headers.
Check out how Webbs Reptile Centre set theirs up:
Alternatively, you could simply go with a striking image that immediately catches your followers’ attention.
Social Media for Reptile Shops: Blog
I’ve written articles about this, tweeted about this, and even blogged about this. Blogging is such a huge part of business, and goes a long way toward driving consumer traffic to your website. Additionally, it also boosts your search engine rankings, since it means your page is being regularly updated. Check out these tips for making your blog work for you:
- Regularly update your blog – When your website has a blog attached to it, you want to make sure people are engaging with your content. To do this, you need to post regularly. Depending on your resources, you could post once a week or once a day. However often you post, make sure you maintain the philosophy of quality over quantity. If you’re offering plenty of content, but it’s all mediocre, you’re not going to gain any readers. You may end up losing customers, as well, because you are less likely to be seen as an industry authority if you only offer less than stellar content.
- Hire an experienced freelance writer – Hire a writer with reptile care experience, reptile knowledge, and sales experience. Running a business can be tiring, and takes up a lot of time. The more business starts booming, the less time you will have to update your blog. A freelance writer will be able to devote their time to your blog posts. Plus, this is what they do for a living – they’ll provide the value-driven, quality writing you need.
- Offer content relevant to your followers & business - You want your customers to know how to take care of their pets, as well as the latest goings on within your industry. You also want them to know you’re an industry authority, and their local expert. This is why you need to offer them content relevant to their needs, questions, and interests.
1) Pet care tips
2) Updates on animal related events (expos, tours, classes, seminars, tutorials, demos, etc.)
3) Video content – Helps those who have difficulty reading, or who do not have time for it
4) Audio content – Audio content, like podcasts, is great for your followers who are visually impaired, or who would rather listen to something playing in the background as they do other things.
6) Contests – Increases your website visitors. You could do a giveaway, sweepstakes, vote contest, photo contest, “caption this” contest, trivia contest, essay contest, video contest, etc.
Check out how LLL Reptile (one of my favorite shops back home in California) displays a list of their featured (and helpful!) articles and event updates:
- Create an Editorial Calendar – Creating an editorial calendar for your blog will keep you on track, and will make sure you have a list of topics to write about each month. At the beginning of each month, list out your topics for the month. Determine how many posts you’re going to do, and how you’re going to present your topics. Blog posts don’t have to be super long or extensive, but posts with 1,000 to 2,500 words tend to do the best in terms of SEO.
Social Media for Reptile Shops: Other Social Media Platforms
There are a bunch of other social media sites to give tips for, but this post is already pretty long. Still, I’ll give a brief overview of a few of them, so you can use them when it comes to marketing a reptile shop:
- Use Pinterest to reach more women – 85% of Pinterest users are women. Create boards that relate to your products and services. For example:
- Use Youtube to reach even more people, and to provide content for those who are unable to read a block of text. You can add demos, footage of expeditions, a video tour of your shop, video of eggs hatching, and more. You can also get some videos professionally made, and use those to promote your brand and your products.
You can also add how-to videos that show tutorials for proper animal care, tank cleaning, feeding, and more.
- Use Snapchat to reach the younger crowd, up to about 35 years old. Many businesses have added Snapchat to their social media marketing efforts – you should too! Use this platform for engaging with customers, sharing short videos and fun images, promoting products, offering discounts, and encouraging customers to visit your site. You can also offer exclusive discounts and promotions to those who follow you on Snapchat.
While this isn’t a fully comprehensive list, it’s a great starting point for using social media as means of marketing your reptile store, products, and services. Hopefully this gave you some helpful tips you can start using right away.
Want more tips? Check out how you can use QR codes to boost your business.