Social commerce has been the latest buzzword over the last few months. With Facebook testing its ‘Buy’ button and Twitter planning to follow suit; the social media platforms have turned serious about growing their share of their e-commerce pie.
As per current estimates, social commerce accounts for between 5 – 20% of sales for nearly 60% of all businesses that market themselves on social media. However this number is about to take a sharp upturn, with social commerce set to account for $30 billion in sales in the US alone, by next year according to Booz & Company.
Social media has been all about reaching out to users, engaging with them and having conversations with them. But the bottom line of every business is sales. How do we move beyond the likes, shares and retweets to getting people to actually buy from us?
Here’s what four of the smartest brands in the business have pulled off to secure their social media revenue streams.
1. ‘Brick and Click’ goes social in-store
When one thinks of social commerce, it’s usually a combination of social media and the e-commerce arm of a brand. Very rarely is social commerce taken out of the digital context, a fact that is reaffirmed by the results of the Retail Touchpoints’ Social Commerce Survey. According to this report, “only 24% of retailers said they promoted their social presence in-store at the POS, and even fewer said they used in-store digital signage (21%).”
That’s a huge missed opportunity, as Nordstrom has demonstrated very masterfully.
Nordstrom’s Pinterest Integration
Catching on to the fact that Pinterest is a fabulous social network for retail curation and user wishlists, Nordstrom started highlighting items that were popular on Pinterest with a “Popular on Pinterest” tag on the physical item in stores.
Launched as a pilot activity in January 2013, the experiment has been so successful that today every Nordstrom outlet across the US showcases its most popular items on Pinterest with a ‘Top Pinned’ section inside physical stores. Shop assistants are equipped with an in-house iPad app that shows trending items for the day and helps them tag these items appropriately in-store.
2. Social-based mass media campaigns
Social integration and multi-channel marketing for most brands is equivalent to posting their TV commercials on Facebook and YouTube or creating hashtags with their campaign line on Twitter and promoting it using paid advertising for a while. Smart multi-channel campaigns make every channel an integral part of every user experience.
The core campaign idea does not belong to just one platform. Instead each platform works as a key piece in the overall puzzle, thus making every platform contribute to the company’s bottom line in equal measure. Using project management and collaboration tools like WorkZone or Asana is a great way of keeping track of all the various channels and their interdependencies in such campaigns. Still confused? Read on.
Coca Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign
Coke started the first step of its campaign with product personalization. For the first time in history, 250 of the most popular first names in each country were shortlisted and printed on the iconic red and white Coke labels, instead of the Coke logo. Coke then used mass media channels like television, outdoors and radio to communicate to users that their favorite drink just might have their name on it. Each bottle also carried a hashtag #ShareACoke to remind users to post pictures of their personalized Coke bottles on social media using the hashtag.
The experience of seeing one’s own name on Coke bottles was so novel and addictive that people actually paid premium prices just to lay their hands on their ‘own’ bottles of Coke and shared them on social media like wildfire. Images of Coke bottles shared on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with the #ShareACoke hashtag were then plastered across digital billboards, across the country.
Coke also created a microsite – www.shareacoke.com – where users could go and create virtual Coke bottles with the names of their friends and family on them to be shared on social media. The results? Millions of pictures posted on social media, thousands of virtual Coke cans shared online, nearly three times as many Coke bottles sold in the UK as compared to Pepsi during the campaign period!
3. Social first, retail next
Most businesses look at social media a cheap and must-have marketing tool. However, some enterprising businesses, use social media not just as a marketing platform but as the online home for their business. These businesses are set up, operated, promoted and serviced wholly through social media. Many of these businesses eventually step out of their social media ‘stores’ and set up e-commerce stores online or physical outlets offline.
Lolly Wolly Doodle
A clothing brand targeted at women and little girls, Lolly Wolly Doodle did away with complicated websites with laborious navigation to make their whole business model simple as pie. See a pattern you like? Comment on the post with the size you want, any personalization needs and your email ID. Voila, fastest fingers first and you bought the item! Lolly Wolly Doodle leverages the most fundamental aspect of social media – one on one connections with users. It offered its fans on Facebook a chance to design their own clothing and delivered the bespoke products to users’ doorsteps all through their Facebook brand page.
The popularity of this custom designed clothing brand soared to such heights that they went from a home based business to exactly $11 million in sales in 2013, and founder Brandi Temple was featured on the cover of Inc. magazine’s June 2014 edition. To top it all, AOL founder Steve Case invested $20 million into the company in 2013.
4. Location based marketing
SoLoMo has been the catchphrase for digital marketers for a while now. One of the forerunners of the SoLoMo craze has been Foursquare that combines each aspect of the social-local-mobile mantra beautifully. Brick and mortar retailers can tap into this fantastic piece of social media to drive footfalls to their retail stores by tracking user check-ins on Foursquare and offering location specific and time bound deals.
Starbucks and Foursquare
As early as 2010, Starbucks tried its hand at social commerce by making Foursquare users unlock ‘Mayor’ badges (this happens by sharing more and more on Foursquare and earning incrementally higher points) which would offer them a $1 discount on a Frappucino purchase made at Starbucks outlets.
While this was a one-off campaign, Starbucks offers users rewards for checking in at their local Starbucks outlets and adding tips about what makes these outlets a must-visit.
Wrapping it up
Selling on social media can take diverse forms. But that takes nothing away from the good ol’ likes, shares and retweets. So ditch those social sharing buttons from your sites yet. (In fact, here are some cool social plugins you might want to check out).
If events and ticketing site Ticketflycan sell 3.25 tickets for every share or tweet on social media, there’s definitely money to be made on this platform, no matter what the naysayers may say. It’s just a matter of using the right strategies to convert those relationships into sales dollars.
Guest Author: Pratik Dholakiya is the Co-Founder & VP of Marketing of E2M & OnlyDesign. He’s passionate about fitness, entrepreneurship, start-ups and all things digital marketing. You can find him on twitter @DholakiyaPratik to discuss on any of these topics.
Social media marketing is not always executed well. Watching how some brands communicate can make you cringe.
But the effective use of social media marketing can go a long way to increasing brand awareness and promote a business or campaign. Whether through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any of the other sites and apps, social media has the potential to reach a staggeringly large audience.
Social media has helped to bridge a communication gap between big brands and customers, allowing the two parties to interact. The viral nature of social media can both be a help and a hindrance and soon as you click ‘send’, the post is out there for good, often regardless if you subsequently delete it.
Here we look at the good, the bad and the ugly of social media accounts.
1. Paddy Power
Irish bookmaker, Paddy Power has become well-known for its online presence, with some of its social media posts causing quite a stir.
The company regularly taps into the biggest sporting events to gain public interest, however they sometimes stray into the controversial, tweeting campaigns related to the Oscar Pistorius murder trial and deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. The company’s tweet surrounding Oscar Pistorius, and whether or not the Paralympian will be found guilty of the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, resulted in widespread outrage. The campaign was deemed to have broken advertising rules and brought UK advertising into disrepute.
Though there is no denying the ill-taste of that particular tweet, there is no doubt that Paddy Power generates a lot of publicity and interaction through their social media sites.
The company that delivers snacks to your desk hasn’t just mastered how to make them healthy, yet tasty, but Graze has also mastered the art of social media. Founded by 7 friends, the company uses Facebook and Twitter to grow brand awareness and now has in excess of 56,000 followers. The Twitter account manages to be both helpful and humorous, interacting with followers and dealing with complaints and enquiries. Cleverly their Twitter handle is their web address @grazedotcom.
The well-known fast food chain is leading the way in how to build up a solid social media presence. The company uses its Twitter account to interact with customers, celebrities and general tweeters alike. Whilst, over on its Vine page, the Mexican food giant regularly uploads amusing videos to keep its 138,000 followers entertained. Taco Bell’s social media presence is light-hearted, with references to Mean Girls, a Snapchat account and a heavy sprinkling of humour, and taps into who their customers are (primarily young people) and successfully manages to raise brand awareness.
In August, UK based bakery Greggs came to the public’s attention when the logo on their Google profile was replaced with a spoof version, ‘providing shit to scum for over 70 years’, as opposed to their usual ‘Always Fresh. Always Tasty’. The bakers’ social media team, however, managed to turn the incident into an exercise in marketing genius, instead using the extra attention to its advantage. Greggs’ team proceeded to tweet Google about the incident and promote their products in the process. A smart move if ever there was one.
The manufacturers of toilet roll aren’t necessarily the kind of company you would associate with great social media, however Charmin know how to work a Twitter account. The social media team regularly tweet humorous posts and vines featuring their mascots, testament to their 48,000 followers. Some of the brands most prolific tweets have included tongue in cheek references to current events, such as a tweet posted to coincide with the release of the Thor movie which whipped the Twittersphere into a frenzy but was subsequently deleted.
The usually family friendly Twitter account for US Airways came under fire earlier this year when in an exchange with a customer, the airline tweeted a pornographic image. The image, allegedly sent in error, went viral and got the company trending. While the offending tweet was removed, it was done after an hour, plenty of time for retweets and screenshots. The tweet known as ‘planegina’ will go down as one of the biggest social media fails a company has ever had. The incident proved that immediate action should be taken in such situations for damage limitation.
MSN were accused of exploiting the death of Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb to increase Facebook engagement when they posted asking readers to ‘Click ‘like’ to pay your respects’. The insensitive post caught the attention of many for all the wrong reasons, showing that using a death as link bait is a big no-no.
In 2013, Luton Airport’s Facebook page came to the public’s attention when the company posted a joke about a plane crash, accompanied by an image. The image in question was of an incident at Chicago airport, which saw a plane slide off the runway and resulted in a child’s death. A spokesperson for the London airport subsequently deemed the post ‘wholly unacceptable and insensitive’.
Another company failing at social media is the Condé Nast-owned food site, Epicurious who in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing proceeded to post a string of food related tweets referencing Boston. The ill-judged tweets enraged followers who branded them insensitive and deemed them to be cashing in on the tragedy. The social media team later deleted the offending tweets and issued a blanket apology, however the damage was already done, witnessed by its 385,000 followers before being picked up by the media.
Showing all other airlines how it’s done, Delta’s social media accounts are a perfect blend of wit and humour, whilst remaining on brand. The brand’s Twitter account regularly references pop culture, which allows it to stay current without losing any of its integrity, a clever device which saw Delta’s Twitter following increase by almost 50% in 2013 and helped to increase engagement.
There are three things that I can always count on to bring me waves of pleasure, delight and deep satisfaction. A kiss from my sweetheart, a square of dark chocolate and Pinterest.
Oh, Pinterest. How I love you. I could spend hours prowling through your copious collections of perfectly-styled meals, curated outfits, far-flung destinations and inspirational quotes. (And sometimes… I do!)
For those of you who have yet to discover Pinterest, it’s a social media site that allows you to create beautiful “boards” by “pinning” images from other people’s boards… adding images from other websites on the Internet… or even uploading them, yourself.
It’s bizarrely addicting, and that intense pleasure can be put to good use because…it’s a powerful tool to generate tons of excitement about your business offerings — excitement that can lead to sales.
Think of it as a visual press release that you don’t need to send to the media.
Here’s how to use Pinterest marketing to get out of this world results… while promoting a product, a service, an experience, a book or just… yourself.
1. Pinterest + A Product
Benjamin Moore is a company that sells something most people don’t get particularly excited about: paint.
But with this stunning Pinterest board, the smart team at Benjamin Moore has curated a collection of unique and colorful doors from around the world… while including a subtle reference (and link) to the company’s line of exterior house paint to “make a stunning first impression with a beautiful front door.”
Staring at this board, all I can think is, “My door is incredibly boring. It needs some gorgeous new paint, ASAP!”
Benjamin Moore’s mission = accomplished. No big smarmy pitch. No begging for business. Who doesn’t want to walk through a beautiful door, sigh, and say, “I’m home.”
You try it:
Create a Pinterest board with curated images (tasty gluten-free recipes, summer nail polish trends, romantic wedding hairstyles, family game night inspiration) and then include a link to your (related) product in the Pinterest board description.
2. Pinterest + A Service
Simply Marketed is an agency that provides marketing and social media services to restaurants, non-profits and small businesses.
Peek at their Pinterest profile, and you’ll spot several boards packed with inspiring marketing tips and advice.
There’s a board called “Unique Marketing Ideas,” another one called “Logos We Love” and another called “Our Clients” featuring impressive portfolio samples.
Lots of terrific content for business owners who are hunting for fresh marketing ideas (zing! Those are the agency’s ideal customers.)… plus a clear description of what Simply Marketed can offer… and a link back to their website.
You try it:
If you’re a service provider, try thinking about each Pinterest board as a “blog post” and fill it with helpful tips and advice on a particular topic… that can help your ideal clients.
3. Pinterest + An Experience
Mirella Saraswati is a yogi on a mission… to inspire YOU to come to her yoga retreat in Ibiza.
She has created a stunning Pinterest board filled with “Ibiza Inspiration” — photos of the landscape, the food, the drinks, local shops, and of course, that exquisite aquamarine water.
Customers who are thinking about investing in this experience will swoon over the imagery… and be far more likely to say, “Yes yes yes!”
You try it:
Planning a retreat, workshop, webinar, seminar, class or conference? Curate images that inspire you — flowers you want to purchase for the entryway, candles for the dinner table, notebooks and pencils for each guest, photos of the venue, and anything else that evokes the spirit of the experience. Yes, it works for an online experience as much as an in-person one.
4. Pinterest + A Book
Leading up to the launch of her first book, 50 Ways To Say You’re Awesome, author Alexandra Franzen created a Pinterest board full of encouraging advice on how to tell someone, “Hey… I think you’re awesome!”
Here’s another great example: to promote her book Happier At Home, author Gretchen Rubin created a Pinterest board that featured a simple question: “What makes you happy at home?” Her board features calming, joyful images of things that make Gretchen happy… along with a few carefully chosen images of her book, including the cover design.
You try it:
Create a Pinterest board that features photos of your book, quotes plucked out of your book, behind-the-scenes book photos (like a snapshot of you at a book launch party)… along with other images that sum up the essence of the book.
5. Pinterest + YOU
Gala Darling is one of the world’s most-read fashion bloggers — and the co-founder of a program called The Blogcademy, where she trains amateurs bloggers who want to “go pro.”
Gala has built a remarkable “lifestyle brand” with legions of fans who adore her unique twist on style, home decor, travel, love and friendship.
Her Pinterest universe is full of images that evoke her unique aesthetic and worldview — including boards devoted to Style Influences (quirky and offbeat, as expected), New York City (her hometown), and Tattoo Love (she has numerous tattoos — part of her signature look).
You try it!
Build a collection of boards all about… you! Your home. Your work. Your life. Your style. Your favorite foods. Places you’d love to visit. Anything you like. When you’re building a “lifestyle brand,” anything goes.
Have you ever been told that you had an innate ability that you never pursued and regretted it?
I remember my school teacher telling me that I had a talent for writing and was able to craft a good story. But I ignored her gentle advice to follow it further. I either was too young and foolish or I didn’t believe her. Maybe both. For a long time that promise and purpose lay dormant.
It was a time of inkwells, quill pens and cursive writing. That era has long gone.
Often at the end of the school day the fingers were stained and the smell of ink was pervasive. Many times the shirt and uniform were marked by classroom pranks that involved thrown pens, tipped inkwells and flying objects. Mum must have wondered whether we were writing with the ink or swimming in it!
My mother was passionate about learning, spelling and the bright future that a good education promised. She made sure that I learned to write neatly and English homework was closely monitored and encouraged. As she was a stay at home mum we were always welcomed after walking home from school with a snack (often with freshly squeezed orange juice) and nudged to the desk to study.
It was nature with a lot of loving nurture.
It was 40 years later I rediscovered a love for writing that had lain dormant. It happened when I started this blog. That surprised me.
My first articles were stilted, stuttering but authentic. The words were wrangled and grammar was not perfect. Often the grammar police turned up, not to offer support but cast stones and laugh quietly. It’s not just the schoolyard that is cruel but the social web has it’s own quota of mockers and academic bullies.
I was told to hire a proofreader before hitting publish, but the web publishing world demands content and sometimes hitting publish is required. I learned that “done is better than perfect”
Many clapped from the sidelines. I was encouraged to continue.
From day one the writing was “conversational”. In a world that is escaping the formal from fashion to dining, the removal of the shackles of “proper” writing made it more fun. The academic purists didn’t have the monopoly on the art of writing anymore. I had discovered a new worldwide playpen.
I pressed on and after watching, reading and learning from distinguished and professional writers the craft became a little more polished. Books like Stephen King’s “On Writing ” provided insights. Other authors were observed including Stephen Pressfield and his book “The War of Art” and “Made to Stick” by Chip and Dan Heath.
I even learnt from car journalists of “Top Gear” fame. It is often 90% story and 10% car review that is narrated with mocking irreverence. Jeremy Clarkson is sometimes improper but you can’t accuse him of being boring.
These lessons included the application of some basic writing principles of rhythm, the rule of three and minimizing adverbs amongst others. Following these discoveries I stumbled upon structure, sub-titles and discovered “my voice“. This includes elements that display the unique you. Those “voice” building blocks start with showing your personality and humour and also exposing your imperfections and being willing to be vulnerable.
The next step
As the journey continued I was gaining in confidence and self published my first book “Blogging the Smart Way - How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” in 2012. This required more learning as I juggled maintaining the blog and other commitments.
It meant writing an outline, discipline and teaching myself to publish on Amazon. That wasn’t all!
It also included:
The big idea – Title to the book, which encapsulates the big idea.
The contents – In other words the chapter headings.
Design – This includes the cover, the internal design
Formatting – Taking the book contents from a Word format to Mobi for Amazon, ePub for Apple ibooks or PDF format for selling on your own blog.
Setting up the selling platform – This includes selling it on Amazon, Apple (or other online publishers) or on your own blog or website.
Marketing your ebook – Now this means that you need to learn about digital marketing. This includes building an email list, optimizing for search engines and social media marketing on Facebook and Twitter.
It was worth it. Even if it was just from the self satisfaction of completion.
Is the web killing the craft of writing?
I have often heard over the last few years as the social web has emerged that technology and the world wide web will be the death of the craft of writing. People will stop writing and just tweet selfies and load photos onto Instagram. That they will just record YouTube videos and the written word will shrivel and wither away.
Traditional media companies and publishers have watched the rise of Kindle and Buzzfeed and also predicted the demise of quality journalism. Yes, there is some dumbing down online but that has also been part of the printed media for generations.
But writing isn’t going away anytime soon, it’s just evolving.
Writing for the web requires better use of subtitles, bullet points and numbering. The time poor nature of modern life means that simple and short are often needed to be implemented. The access to a global market in real time and the democratization of publishing are also providing opportunities for people who want to publish.
No longer do you have to beg permission from a publisher. Just write and publish it to Amazon!
There is one other thing. New technology is providing new tools for writers that makes them more efficient from the writing, right through to the publishing and marketing.
The new tools for writers
The pencil and pen was the tool of choice when you had no other options but today we have the computer, the tablet and even the smart phone. The keyboard has replaced the pen for many.
There are other tools like Scrivener and on top of that there is online training to help you learn these tools faster.
What about you?
Have you discovered writing because of the social web? Did blogging open up your eyes and mind to the power of the published online world?
Look forward to hearing more about your discoveries and insights in the comments below.
Twitter recently announced that it has started to add content to users’ timelines, and it will continue. Facebook uses the Edgerank algorithm, which was developed by Facebook to govern what is displayed and how high the display is placed on the News Feed. YouTube continuously plays pre-roll videos before sports clips that you try and watch.
It seems that organic content continues to diminish as the social media titans try to expand their advertising revenue. The late Jim Henson was famously quoted as saying,
“If you can’t beat them. Join them.”
Should social media marketers adhere to the Kermit creator’s words of wisdom and shift focus to the paid advertising side? If your organic content is not being recognized, the answer might be an astounding yes.
The social media marketing facts
Below are 11 fascinating social media marketing facts and statistics, which will blow the mind of all social gurus. Even if you consider yourself the “Cookie Monster” of paid advertising on social, the astounding statistics provided below do not lie in regards to how businesses are flocking to promote their content on social media.
1 Million: The number of small or medium sized businesses advertising on Facebook
500,000: Total number of Facebook pages promoting posts
2.5 Million: Total number of Facebook promoted posts
59%: Percentage of Facebook’s revenue that comes from mobile
21.7%: Facebook’s share of worldwide mobile internet ad revenue in 2014
45%: Percentage of ads in the 2013 Super Bowl that included Twitter hashtags
81%: Percentage of Twitter’s advertising revenue that came from mobile
$200,000: Cost of a 24-Hour Promoted Trend on Twitter
$5.6 Billion: Gross revenue that YouTube was expected to generate in 2016
$850 Million: Amount of revenue from video advertisements on YouTube served in the United States
$100 Million: Estimated about that Samsung spends on Facebook advertising per year, making the creator of the Galaxy phone the largest advertiser on Facebook
Advertising on more established social networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube now provide yearly data, which demonstrates the relevancy of promoting content via social media. Whether you are one of the major players like Samsung advertising heavily on Facebook or a smaller company, like an apartment community in Charlotte, the results will speak for themselves.
Why is Instagram the fastest growing social network?
Newer platforms like Instagram have allowed selective companies to start advertising on its photo sharing application. According to Tech Crunch, the reason why Instagram is so popular is because of the limited distractions on the application (hence, no advertisements).
The real question is how social marketers will react if the organic reach via social continues to decrease. Creating compelling content is time consuming and the backbone of social. As the saying goes, “With hard work comes great reward.”
If there is no reward for the organic content that is being created, some of the most powerful social networks could start to lose users. Unless marketers accept that in order to be seen, you must pay a pretty penny. If this is the case, the statistics referenced above will just continue to grow.