As retail brands and PR companies look for more and more ways to utilise their social media campaigns as we move into 2011, the integration of social media and e-commerce is sure to play a big role this year. With fan engagement and acquisition on Facebook continuing to present companies with the perfect platform to sell and promote their products directly to fans and customers, I have highlighted 5 points below as to how retail brands can make the most of their social media activities in 2011.
1. Create a unique & fresh Facebook shopping experience but keep it simple - Establishing a balance between an engaging, innovative and interactive Facebook Store experience as well as making it easy for fans to browse and purchase products without being re-directed to multiple sites is an important factor for brands to consider. Additionally, making it easy for fans and customers to "share" and "like" as part of the browsing, purchasing and ordering stages of social media shopping will also be important. For example, at the browsing stage, brands could create a "compare favourites" share function within their Facebook stores, enabling fans and shoppers to add their favourite choices of a particular item into a favourites list (for example, black suit vs. navy suit) and share/post their choice to their social network, asking their own followers and friends which item they should go for.
2. Interactive wall posts - Wall posts not only present a fantastic opportunity to promote product-specific content to followers, they also can be utilised as a highly interactive e-commerce feature, as seen with the recent Adidas Holiday campaign. Posted on the Adidas Originals Facebook wall, the Adidas Originals Holiday Countdown campaign revealed a new product each day through an interactive mini-app posted on the Adidas Originals Facebook wall. Enabling fans to browse products without leaving the Adidas Facebook wall, this approach proved to be hugely successful, spotlighting a new product each day and making it easy for fans to browse, share, "like" and purchase items without being directed away from the Adidas wall post. As a promotional and socially engaging tool it was excellent. Up until now, we have only seen this kind of highly visual, highly interactive feature and interface appearing as an app within a tab on Facebook, so to see such an engaging e-commerce feature used within a Facebook wall post is certainly an original concept and one which other retail brands will surely be jumping on board with this year.
3. Utilise YouTube & interactive video assets - Interactive video campaigns present brands with an opportunity to further bring their social media campaigns to life. A good example of this is UK fashion retailer, French Connection, and the recent launch of their YouTique YouTube store. Utilising YouTube's Annotations feature, the French Connection YouTique store provides online shoppers with a highly visual and interactive personal shopper-esque experience. With shoppers able to browse a wide range of fashion products, trends, tips, and combinations, as well as purchase products directly from the YouTique videos, the store has so far proved to be a huge success for the company both in terms of sales and increased social media engagement.
4. #BrandReview: Hashtag reviews through Twitter - There is certainly significant value in encouraging fans and customers to talk about your brand to their Twitter followers, particularly if it is positive. In light of this, companies that are able to integrate an innovative and rewarding Twitter campaign that encourages customers to talk about their product or brand will undoubtedly see the number of fans, followers and online customers increase. For example, retail companies could run a competition for customers to submit and share 140-charater mini-reviews of their products via Twitter. Fans simply Tweet their product review along with the brand's campaign-specific hashtag and shortened URL link, with companies offering exclusive promotions, discounts or free items for the best, most re-tweeted, and most imaginative reviews.
5. Offer exclusive promotions & discounts to reward fans - With Share and Like buttons now directly linked to a specific product or Facebook store, offering exclusive promotions through social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter is an ideal way to covert Facebook and Twitter fans to customers. By offering exclusive discounts or promotional offers to reward fans who purchase items through a company's Facebook store or app, brands will be more likely to increase repeat purchases, word-of-mouth and customer engagement in the social media sphere. Additionally, rewarding fans to share their purchases across their own social media platforms is also a fantastic way to increase traffic and visibility, gain new followers and maintain good relationships with customers.
With an increasing number of Facebook Store tabs now beginning to pop-up, it is important that the brands integrating social media and e-commerce in 2011 continue to offer fans a social media experience alongside their online stores, creating an effective balance between "social engagement" and "social selling" as well as continuing to produce unique, fresh and innovative ideas throughout their social media and online PR campaigns.
(Article by George Guildford, Punch Communications)