When Flooring America, Flooring Canada members met in Montreal for the co-op’s annual digital marketing conference, Building Buzz, attendees were immersed in two days of deep-dive education developed to teach them new tactics to grow their business through lead conversions, social media engagement and marketing plans.

Members attended several breakout sessions and panel discussions throughout the conference that covered a multitude of topics from how to maximize their business for Pinterest and what not to do when creating local video content, to key trends in product design that put fashion in flooring and building a marketing and media plan that drives traffic.

Included in the conference’s education lineup was an expert-led social media panel discussion. Facilitated by Keesha Harris, CCA Global Partners, the panel of digital gurus imparted social media best practices on to attendees.

Highlighting features of social networks that can be most beneficial to flooring retailers, Harris led the panel and attendees through the expansive world of social media. Newer platforms like Instagram and Snapchat generated the most discussion, while attendees learned how to better maximize their use of more familiar and established platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

A platform dedicated to photo and video sharing, Instagram is the ideal space to visually engage consumers who are seeking design inspiration and product demos. In addition to posting photos and videos to profiles, users of the app are now able to highlight, or save, photo and video content through the use of Instagram Stories without cluttering their actual feed.

“What Instagram Stories allows you to do is continually post without actually cluttering your feed,” said panelist Michelle DeLuties, MD Communications. “So anyone who wants to engage with you in a more in-depth way can follow your story. So it’s great if you are a brand—you can show before and after photos, you can show different events taking place at your store, or you can have someone do a product walk-through. Instagram Stories is a great tool for you to leverage on Instagram.”

Taking things up a notch is the new IG TV feature, which allows for even longer, more in-depth videos. “IG TV is something that’s really hot right now,” said panelist Nicole Reyes of Kel & Partners. “This actually just rolled out a month ago and so it’s still very, very new. It’s pretty much Instagram’s way of competing with YouTube.”

Allowing 10 minutes of video time, which Reyes says will eventually be increased to an hour, users are able to share longer pieces of content that can’t fit in the 60-second space currently allowed on Instagram’s main feed, or the 15-second space that users are given on their Instagram Stories.

“I think it’s going to evolve into a nice, informative kind of YouTube tutorial feel,” said Reyes. “So definitely keep your eyes on that and think about the videos you can add there and leverage that.”

An app commonly associated with a younger generation due to its augmented reality capabilities that allow users to play around with fun filters and enhancements, the experts urged retailers not to rule Snapchat out.

“I know [Snapchat] is a little bit less of a platform for our industry, and the demographic is a little younger than what we are typically trying to target, but the way we’ve seen social media evolve, Facebook was originally a young person’s game, now its super dated; then it’s Instagram,” said Jeff Bowen of CommCreative. “I feel like the demographic on each of the social media platforms is starting to rise, so it’s probably a possibility that Snapchat can go that way too.”

In fact, according to Bowen, Snapchat’s visual search tool is now able to connect users with shopping. “You can take a picture of a barcode or an item and it can connect you to an online location to shop for that item.” While this is a feature that is still in the early stages, Bowen says it’s something to keep your eyes on because, as Snapchat goes, so goes Instagram and Facebook.

“This may be something that happens on Instagram or Facebook or any of the other platforms,” said Bowen. “It’s amazing what they can do with this new augmented reality, so it’s something to pay attention to.”

As augmented reality continues to change the way we communicate, create and share, its presence in social media is also increasing, said panelist Julia McGovern of Kel & Partners. “Snapchat was the spearhead there, and I know that Facebook and Instagram are spending a lot of their dollars developing their augmented reality products, cameras and capabilities. So I think you’re going to start to see that pop up a lot more in stores of course, but certainly in how we are sharing and communicating on social as well.”

Today we are able to use Snapchat filters to change our hair color and add things like dog ears, crowns and other playful effects to faces and spaces. With this same technology, the experts explored the idea of the app one day allowing the end-user to visually change the color and/or type of floors in their homes when shopping for new flooring.

Attendees were given tips on how to use Facebook and Twitter more effectively as well. The more familiar platforms among the group, the panel encouraged retailers to strengthen their use of Facebook and Twitter with user-generated content, or UGC, and a schedule of no more than four posts a week for Facebook and at least once a day for Twitter.

A common trend recognized across the board was video content, and according to the experts, on all platforms, video is king.

“Video is king,” said Harris. “Everybody would rather watch a short video than read a post or just look at a photo. Videos can be anything, they can be engaging, educational, funny. There’s so many avenues to go down when you’re taking a video and they evoke so many more emotions than a still post, which increases the engagement on them.”