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Learn from Abercrombie & Fitch: Embed social media in every customer touchpoint

“Have you checked us out on Facebook?” As I queued to pay at Abercrombie & Fitch in London over the weekend I kept hearing this phrase over and over again. In fact as everybody paid for their purchases the sales assistants asked them this very same question. Some may have found this annoying, some may have found it forced, and some may have found it distracting. But it is actually a sign that Abercrombie & Fitch is taking its social media strategy seriously. And a great example of just how to embed social media across your customer touchpoints and with all your staff.

Developing a social media strategy and how you will use the various channels and tools at your disposal to engage your customers is only the first step. Now you need to actually engage people. And to do that people need to know where you are.

There are many ways that you can grow your social media channels. And it is often best to start small with a process of thorough seeding. Identify a small group of people in your target audience that you can work with – they may be brand loyalists, people you interact with already or those you know would be keen to work with you. You can then work with these people to start to build content and engagement in social media. You can create a starting point from which you can grow. But once you have begun to seed the site, and you are ready to open it up to your whole customer base you will want ways to increase the number of people you are engaging and how regularly you engage them. The question then comes: how do we engage more people in social media?

There are many ways to do this. Initial seeding with brand loyalists will help to spread the word about what you are doing. Outreach marketing in other social networks – such as Twitter – and engaging with bloggers and relevant forums will help you reach new audiences. And you also have the options of advertising, running competitions and other more traditional ways of promoting what you are doing. Of course, your aim may not be to reach large numbers through social media. But if it is, the best way to do it is simpler that any of these: use every existing customer touchpoint.

We’ve written before about how social media does not just take place online, and the best way of growing and embedding social media is to fit it in to your existing processes and customer touchpoints. Rather than social media begin something that is separate to the other ways you engage and interact with customers, it should complement and add to it. You should
examine every customer touchpoint and talk about social media where relevant and where possible. If you mail out envelopes to customers, you should put your social media channels on the back. If you include telephone and other contact details in marketing material, you should put your social media channels there too. And if your staff actually meet or speak to your customers you should talk about social media with them.

Abercrombie & Fitch get it right. There are a few moments at the till when the assistant is usually quiet – the customer is finding their money or waiting for their bank to authorise their credit card. It uses these moments to talk about their social media activity – and in particular a campaign they are currently running on Facebook. And with 1.5 million people liking them on Facebook, they are clearly doing something right.

So if you want to grow and engage more customers in social media the best way is to embed it into your existing processes. You currently have many customer touchpoints so make the most of them. And let social media complement what you already do rather than sitting on its own.

Abercrombie
Image by ீ ๑ Adam via Flickr

 

Join The Conversation

  • Jan 17 Posted 6 years ago Anonymous (not verified)

    First shop in the store at your own risk. My wife was hurt by a loose security pin on the floor, and the guys in the store says it happens all the time and "it is common".
    If you have any issue - return, gift card, accident report - unlucky you! They only have a number to take order, although it is called "customer service line". Everyone is trained to push back. No way to talk to their supervisor because they are their "only for the rep's convenience". They just keep saying someone will call you back, and they will hang up on you if "the conversation is not productive".
    Avoid this store if you expect even the basic shopping experience!

    The company seems on the wrong way and forgot about the basics. Real shopping experience will tell you that. Try to contact the company and have your issue resolved, and you will know what I am talking about.

    First shop in the store at your own risk. My wife was hurt by a loose security pin on the floor, and the guys in the store says it happens all the time and "it is common".

    If you have any issue - return, gift card, accident report - unlucky you! They only have a number to take order, although it is called "customer service line". Everyone is trained to push back. No way to talk to their supervisor because they are their "only for the rep's convenience". They just keep saying someone will call you back, and they will hang up on you if "the conversation is not productive".

    Avoid this store if you expect even the basic shopping experience! Google "Abercrombie & Fitch customer comment" to see for yourself. This company will go bankrupt.

  • Actionly's picture
    Aug 20 Posted 6 years ago Actionly

    Wonderful and original suggestions. Thanks Julie

    -Sam (http://www.actionly.com)

  • Aug 17 Posted 6 years ago Michelle Sloan (not verified)

    I think A & F is doing right! It can be very hard to take a company that has their set way of doing things and incorporate a new strategy within their current sales and marketing strategies. Using the employees that have the most direct contact with their customers is very smart. It's not just about hopping online and looking at a Facbook page or sitting down to read their tweets. Social media is still about people connecting, and A & F has their employees connecting even more to the customers to get more connection back to the company via the internet. Brilliant!

  • Courtney Hunt's picture
    Aug 13 Posted 6 years ago Courtney Hunt

    Thanks for sharing these ideas, Matt. Here are a few thoughts I would add:

    1. The same ideas can be used by organizations to promote and leverage social media with employees and promote internal applications (e.g., the use of Twitter for recruiting) as well.

    2. Because it's so easy for people to establish unofficial accounts, it's important for organizations to convey to folks what their official social media channels and platforms are.

    3. Whatever approach an organization takes should be informed by a clearly-defined strategy with focused goals. It's not in anyone's best interests to establish a presence on any platform without knowing what the potential benefit might be.

    4. To extend Julie's ideas, channel addresses should be included on people's business cards as well. That's a great use of the back of a card, for example. And for certain roles, it might make sense to create a "social media calling card" as well. I have done that for the Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs) Community I've founded, for example, so that people have specific information about how they can engage with us.

    5. To Marco's point, I don't see this as an either/or proposition. It's all a part of creating brand awareness and developing business - social media channels are just new ways of doing that.

  • Aug 9 Posted 6 years ago Julie Anne Herrin (not verified)

    Integrating your company's social media efforts into the script of every employee is so simple, yet so important.  I also realize how difficult this can be, but Abercrombie has obviously made their social media strategy a priority.  They have captured millions of eyes and are poised to capture millions more with consistent efforts such as this.  Now I haven't been in an Abercrombie store recently, but what are some other ways that they, and other retailers could promote their social media efforts at retail?  

    • On the backs of dressing room doors put Facebook and twitter logos along with your handles.  Suggest that customers tweet photos of themselves in their new Abercrombie duds to win a prize for "Best Dressed".  
    • Put the Yelp! logo and ask customers to Yelp about their experience in the store that day.  
    • Receipts are a terribly underutilized ad space as well.  The backs, the fronts, etc.  People keep receipts or at least look at them several times before tossing them.  
    • Bottoms and insides of shopping bags.  Print your FB & Twitter addresses here too possibly with a contest (Those soda cap campaigns must be working, they have been doing them for years! Borrow a good idea!)
    • Clothing tags.  Yes, seriously.  The paper ones with prices and the cloth ones inside with washing instructions.  Levis is doing it with their recycle campaign which is awesome, but seriously, print your facebook and twitter info on tags.  

    How else do you feel Abercrombie and other retailers could be promoting their social media efforts in-store?

  • Aug 9 Posted 6 years ago Jill de L (not verified)

    As a social media marketer I love that they are pushing this initiative, but after going to their Facebook page it's a bit sketchy.  There are 5 pictures of shirtless boys asking to be a model - I understand their want, but to see this on a Facebook page with the caption "I am 15.... " is a bit much for me.  Maybe they'll find a better way to get submissions.

    Thanks for the article though - as said previously the initiative is great!

    Cheers.

  • Aug 9 Posted 6 years ago Marco Fiori (not verified)

    Interesting to see a company doing it right and taking the strategy seriously. I do wonder however, how many of its fans are from direct store contact rather than just traditional brand awareness.

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