The social media war: Moving from messages to purchases

Reaching consumers is one thing. But encouraging them to purchase is a whole other ballgame.

As companies ramp up their social media efforts, the war to woo customers is on, with a host of new online strategies that aim to entice shoppers to shop – and buy, reported WWD.

“Having a social media presence is table stakes — every single retailer has one. Social media has become ubiquitous, but it’s about beginning to use [these platforms] to monetize your communities,” Maureen Mullen, director of research and advisory services at New York University’s think tank Luxury Lab, said to WWD.

Using Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other sites, firms can, according to Mullen, engage their target customers with three key methods: employing “sticky” programs with a variety of components, “localizing” their outreach tactics, and increasing their “F-commerce,” or vending their wares through Facebook.

Brands have learned the hard way that it is not just about sheer numbers when it comes to social media: Acquiring vast amounts of fans and followers does not always translate to more engrossment. A new L2 study indicates that the greater amount of “likes” a company has on Facebook, the less likely visitors were to engaged with the page.

“It’s about quality over quantity,” said Oliver Walsh, founder and CEO of Wednesday London, which boasts clients such as Mr Porter, Tory Burch, J. Crew, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Giorgio Armani and Bobbi Brown. “Why would a customer come to you as a retailer as opposed to anyone else? If you can answer that in a genuine way, it will resonate with your fans.”

Creative online tactics are paying off in increased sales, said Scott Galloway, NYU marketing professor and co-founder of Luxury Lab. In August, Luxury Lab announced the findings of its Digital IQ Index, which rates retailers according to their online prowess. The companies topping the list, in order, were Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, Nordstrom, Sephora and Urban Outfitters (tied for fourth place),, Bluefly, Bloomingdale’s, Gilt Groupe, and Net-a-Porter and Pottery Barn.

From the brand’s point of view of the brand, social media content should draw in the shopper, create engagement and encourage regular connection, fostering a sense of comfort and interest in the firm’s products, said Walsh.

But the increased traffic does not just have to be online. Social media can lure customers to brick-and-mortar stores, which also generates purchasing.

“When we launched Someday by Justin Bieber earlier this summer, one tweet from Justin had kids sleeping on the street for two nights so that they could buy his fragrance. When Rihanna came to Herald Square this spring, she tweeted an hour before she arrived at the store, and 1,000 fans came to see her,” Jennifer Kasper, Macy’s group vice president of digital media and multicultural marketing, said.

Macy’s, which ranked highest in the Luxury Lab report, has led digital initiatives whose success has surpassed even its own expectations. When the department store launched its Million Dollar Makeover opportunity on Facebook – in which one lucky fan would receive a makeover including different products, services and experiences (an entire life makeover) – nearly 20,000 customers entered, four times the company’s predicted figure.

In a crowded market, the retailers that stick out are those that convey their uniqueness, said Shenan Reed, co-founder and chief media officer of Morpheus Media. For example, Bergdorf Goodman, has just one location, but the company’s social media sites features events and goods only available at its physical store in New York City.

“[Bergdorf Goodman has] this rich history and they can bring a slice of New York City to anyone who is following them anywhere else in the world. There’s an extreme amount of value there for a consumer. It gives Bergdorf a unique story to tell,” Reed said.

For instance, in celebration of its newly remodeled shoe department, Bergdorf Goodman launched a “Shoes About Town” Instagram effort. Using the Instagram iPhone app, consumers are invited to submit photos of Bergdorf Goodman footwear against creative backdrops in the New York City area such as cityscapes, which will then be displayed on an interactive city map.

Of particular import is what Reed terms “transmedia storytelling,” when companies tailor information to the different social media outlets to tell a story that resonates appropriately for each outlet.

“Figuring out what each of the different social media channels is good for allows you to cater the content that you’re delivering to the customer to that channel, naming it unique to that channel. The power is not just simply repeating yourself everywhere,” Reed said.

Tagged in: social media, online, facebook, twitter, commerce, strategy,


LadyLUX via istock

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