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Tanna Dang, owner of Eden in Love and winner of the NRF's "This is Retail" video contest this year, says Facebook is an important part of her marketing strategy. The Honolulu-based boutique's Facebook page has more than 13,000 fans.

Dang says a few strategies helped her social-media efforts, including professional photos of merchandise and creating a "voice" for the Facebook page that is an extension of the store's brand.

Retailers and restaurants are the top two brand categories that Twitter users most want to hear from, according Richard Alfonsi, Twitter's global vice president of small-business sales.

Two-thirds of Twitter users are following businesses on Twitter to get discounts or deals, as well as exclusive content. Twitter users who see retailer Tweets are 1.4 times more likely to make online purchases, Alfonsi said during the Forum's luncheon presentation.

Twitter is "a great way to connect to users to their interests," he says.

Alfonsi concluded his presentation with some thought-provoking questions on the future of retail.

"What if the future of retail isn't about moving product; it's about moving people" into your store, Alfonsi asked. "What if the future of retail isn't about spreading messages, but having others spread it for you?"

He recommended some easy steps for businesses to get started on the social-media site:

  • Listen: Learn from what users, competitors and others in your industry are tweeting about.
  • Tweet: Find the voice you want your business to project.
  • Plan ahead: Use a calendar to schedule Tweets.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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