Absent the ability to connect with customers face-to-face, many running retailers are doubling down on video to drive engagement and relevancy.
One of the most active has been Fleet Feet West Hartford, which through the first half of April had posted a total of 21 videos to its Instagram feed. With eyes on informing, entertaining and inspiring, the short clips ranged from the store’s daily 2:00 p.m. fitness challenge to product demonstrations to staff sharing their knowledge on footwear and apparel.
The deluge of video is far beyond the Connecticut store’s normal course of social media action, but today’s uncommon times call for uncommon measures, Fleet Feet West Hartford owner Stephanie Blozy acknowledges.
“The idea is that we give people content to look at and linger on. This is the way we become relevant and stay relevant in people’s minds,” says Blozy, who credits her social media coordinator Alex Norstrom for being the creative force behind the store’s digital activity.
With social distancing guidelines in place, running shops closed to the public and group runs cancelled in response to COVID-19, many running stores are doubling down on video to stay in front of customers.
On Instagram, Fleet Feet Pittsburgh offered a behind-the-scenes look at its contactless curbside pickup service.
And The Running Shop in Tucson, AZ, joined TikTok and performed the exercise band Cupid Shuffle.
Charlotte-based Run For Your Life recently debuted its “Virtual Run with Lexi” interview show as well as a video touting its Virtual Shoe Advisor services.
In Durham, NC, Bull City Running Co. launched a YouTube channel that features “Shoe Talk with Brett” and “Shorts Story” episodes focused on introducing new running shorts.
“We’re not having our typical face-to-face conversations with customers, so video is a way to bring that back to the forefront and keep our customers informed, updated and engaged with us,” Bull City Running owner Kim Chapman says.
According to Stephanie Cartin, co-founder and co-CEO of Socialfly, a New York City-based social media marketing agency, focusing on video is a smart play for independent retailers eager to connect with consumers as Internet and social media use surges amid the pandemic’s shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders.
“Video content is more engaging to the viewer and it also gives off a more candid aesthetic, instead of the curated and stylized static social media content,” Cartin says. “[Video] content, once produced, can also be shared again down the line and will prove to be a better return on investment than static imagery that is posted once.”
That’s precisely what spurred Blozy to accelerate Fleet Feet West Hartford’s use of video. Whereas Blozy feels people see a still image and scroll on, she believes videos encourage people to stop.
“Videos are super sticky and that’s what we need right now – something that makes customers want to spend time with us,” Blozy says.
Referring to her days in broadcast media, Blozy recognizes the importance of consistent impressions and her team has leaned on a mix of content that is humorous at times, inspirational at others and educational elsewhere to drive brand awareness and ensure relevancy.
“Not everything has to be hard hitting, but we’re playing repetitiveness to our advantage,” she says. “In some cases, it might pay off today. In others, it won’t. But if we’re still relevant when all is said and done, that’s a good thing.”
Both Blozy and Chapman acknowledge a psychological component is at play, too. Seeing people talking, smiling and being friendly stands a welcome break from the uncertainty hovering over contemporary life and allows running retailers to present a more dynamic, optimistic tone.
“There’s a bit of looking forward to life beyond this current standstill that video allows us to capture quite well,” Chapman says.