How Can Brands Win the Social Media Race?

Social Media Shopping

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In this day and age, almost every retailer knows how powerful social media is. Based on a recent survey by Compete, 40% of online shoppers believed retailers’ Facebook pages have been extremely/very influential on their purchase decisions. Not to mention the imperceptible impact social media has on shoppers. Unfortunately, not every retailer is succeeding in social media marketing. While some brands like Forever 21 and Victoria Secrets are doing great with their social media strategies, it contrasts sharply with failures such as McDonalds’ #McDStories campaign on Twitter.

So, how should retailers make the best out of their social network marketing?

  • Blogs are no longer as effective. According to Compete survey, less than 8% of shoppers read or post on retailer blogs, forums, and reviews sites on a daily basis – a number that has been declining over the past 6 months. In addition, 42.9% of the population has NEVER read or posted on a retailer blog. Many retailers are shifting their blogs to social networks such as Pinterest and Tumblr. The US clothing retailer, Forever 21, a company that has been known for their social networking strategies, operated an excellent fashion blog. The blog attracted 37,000 UVs last December, however, according to Compete PRO, that number dropped to 10,000 in just a month.
  • Everyone loves sales and promotions. Survey results told us more than 55% of people visit retailer Facebook pages (52.1% for Twitter) in order to keep up to date on sales and promotions. About half of consumers visit both sites to enter sweepstakes or giveaways. This strategy works best for big brands that wish to attract more followers or brands that wish to increase awareness.
  • Word-of-mouth is powerful (even if it is virtual). Based on our survey results, nearly 30% of people go visit retailers’ Facebook page when they saw that one of their friends “liked” the page. In addition, 29.4% of them try to connect with other people who like the retailer (same number for Twitter) and 18.2% of them wish to let others know why they like a specific retailer (18.7% for Twitter). Not only is word-of-mouth being spread quicker, it is also having a higher reach on a broader range of people.
  • Know your audiences well. One of the key factors about online marketing is to target the right group. According to our survey, there are more female shoppers on Facebook and more male shoppers on Twitter. Therefore, brands that target a specific gender group may want to consider this in their social media strategies – especially when it comes to mobile. Also, for people in the 55+ age group, 66% don’t have a Twitter account and 73.4% of those who have accounts don’t follow retailers on Twitter. Awareness of these facts would help prevent retailers from wasting their money on social media channels that their target demographic is not active in.
  • Understand that not all social media channels are the same. Many retailers are stuck wondering how much emphasis they should place on each channel and which content to post in which. Some spread themselves too thin and focus on all of them – posting the same content in each network. This should not be the way how social marketing works. Each network has its own function. For example, Pinterest works best with women, creative photos, and crafts. According our data, the most engaging traffic for Pinterest come from retailers in food, lifestyle and fashion industries. On the other hand, because Twitter allows us to share information so quickly with others, it would work better with retailers focused on daily sales and promotions such as Amazon and Walmart.
  • Social media is not only taking over traditional ways of marketing but also encouraging retailers to think outside the box and take a differentiated approach to each network. This Wednesday, the world famous fashion brand Oscar de la Renta released their fall ads campaign exclusively on Instagram. Although it is tough to tell as of now how effective this approach will be, I am certain that the brand will learn from the campaign – putting them far ahead in the social media race.

    About He Tang:
    He is the summer Marketing Intern at Compete. She is currently a rising senior of Mount Holyoke College, double majoring in Psychology and Statistics. She is passionate about digital marketing and data analysis. Connect with her on Google+ or LinkedIn.