Report: How Social Marketing Works for Retail Brands [Report]

In late June, I wrote about ComScore’s second report called “The Power of Like2 – How Social Marketing Works” and how it’s not just about getting likes, but rather about creating engagement and interacting with fans. Now, I would like to follow up on that post as ComScore has recently released their third report: “The Power of Like Europe – How Social Marketing Works for Retail Brands”. Like the second report, the third one is also based on collaboration between ComScore and Facebook.

Focus of recent study
As the title of the new report reveals, the focus of this third study is on social marketing for retail brands and how popular consumer brands are making use of Facebook to deliver media impressions at scale and not least drive desired behaviour among key customer segments.

The study presented in the report analyses the social marketing efforts of retail fashion brands across the three largest advertising markets in Europe (UK: ASOS and Topshop. France: La Redoute and Zara. Germany: H&M and Zara.) Furthermore, it states that retail was selected primarily because 86 of the Top 100 e-Retailers ranked by ComScore in Europe have a Facebook presence.

My last blog post also focused on how Facebook pages have become the go-to destination for consumers and fans as well as how good community management thereby can be part of increasing a brand’s sales. In this report, it’s therefore interesting to be presented with even more concrete examples on what investment in social media can actually bring along.

Key findings
The report states that the time spent on social networking in Europe is continuously growing, meaning that we are connecting with people around us and sharing content online as never before. In UK, France and Germany, nearly a third of the time spent on Facebook is viewing the News Feed. This is where the importance of brands creating engaging content comes back into the picture. Obtaining this, fans can contribute to cause a chain reaction of communication appearing in a great number of their friends’ News Feeds when ‘liking’ or commenting on a specific piece of brand content. In the report, this is presented with the following example:

As seen above, friends of fans thereby become a great part of a brand’s potential online audience. Illustrated with Asos in the UK, this brand has the ability to reach around 44 friends of fans for every 1 Asos fan in the UK. Friends of fans for La Redoute in France and H&M in Germany also constitute a large audience, which is 20x to 30x greater than their fan base alone.

This taken into consideration, Facebook can have a significant impact on a brand’s exposure, provided that it understands how to manage a community and create engagement. Additionally, the great potential for reaching friends of fans and converting these into fans, continuously building a larger fan base, obviously increases the level of engagement in the community.

From the above figure, it also becomes evident that impressions on Facebook reach both fans and their wider network. As stated in the report, another thing is in this regard to understand whether the wider network is similar to the preferred target group or if it consists of a broader cross-section of the Internet population. There is value in understanding if Facebook can help brands reach not only their most loyal users but also their lighter buyers who need convincing in order to place a purchase.

Using La Redoute as an example, the study states how the demographics of their audience differ from 1) the overall user base online, 2) users visiting the brand’s website and 3) their Facebook page. This is illustrated in the below figure:

Being aware of this difference in a brand’s demographic user profiles can help the brand adapt its online strategy to affect the behaviour of specific segments as the final aim is of course to increase sales.

This also leads one’s thoughts to the ever recurring question: “What is the actual return on my Facebook investment?”

In the study, ComScore evaluated how much more likely fans and friends of fans were to visit their brands’ websites compared to the average Internet user. The result is that fans and friends of fans in each case are more likely to visit the retailer’s online store compared to the average Internet user. This can also be connected to the last blog post on ComScore’s second report, where Starbucks had experienced greater in-store purchasing from fans compared to non-fans. For the retail brands in this report, the numbers look as follows:

To see further details about the examples presented here and in general gain more insights into the report by ComScore and Facebook, please click here.

Clickbait: Information overload! How can brands cut-through all the noise?

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 10.11.34You won’t believe the hidden message in this blog post! Or rather – there isn’t one, I just wanted you to click through and read this. But bear with me – I’m about to suggest something incredibly controversial – a never-heard-before admission by a social agency!*

As much as clickbait is the emotional catnip of our online experience and can drive consistent traffic for publishers like The Daily Mail and Huff Post who churn out multiple stories each day, it’s still hugely annoying to discover you’ve been duped by an over-excited headline promising to give you all the feels. For brands, adopting the same practice can negatively affect perception and ultimately – sales. So how can brands cut through all the sensational copy and deliver successful results without falling prey to creating clickbait themselves? How do they beat them rather than join them?

 

Platform crackdown

In the early days of social, Facebook optimised content based on engagement, meaning that if users clicked on a piece of content, it received a higher ranking in newsfeeds. In 2014 Facebook took steps to try and crack down on those gaming this ranking using clickbait, and in February this year it introduced an update based not just on what users engaged with in their feed, but what they wanted to see. Facebook’s advice is that Pages should avoid encouraging people to take action (such as encouraging lots of clicks), because this will likely only cause temporary spikes in metrics that might then be rebalanced by feed’s ranking over time – meaning the latest ranking favours content that users naturally engage with rather than content that users click on through coercion.

 

Last month Instagram followed suit and announced it would alter user’s feeds to optimise the content users “care about the most”, and Twitter has also adopted a similar change (although users can opt-out and revert back to the chronological feed). The changes will hopefully make it harder for clickbaiters to game feeds with meaningless content, but the real aim for the platforms hosting is to surface more engaging content more frequently so users return often and stay longer.

 

The same goes for brands on social. If the content they produce is consistently engaging, then users will interact more frequently, leading others to discover it through preferred ranking. Ultimately, these new newsfeed algorithms exist to generate more meaningful engagement, driving not just clicks, but conversations via comments, and shares.

 

Learn and adapt

Meaningful engagement begins with relevant content that creates value for the user and the brand. While an insight-driven content strategy is key to delivering this, brands should also adapt stories and messages based on the emotional needs and behavior of their audience. This is more than just a case of ‘test and learn’ or refining what has already been done. Brands must also evolve their approach in line with new behaviors, platforms, competitors and rankings or risk being left behind by those who do.

 

A good example of a brand that does this well is Buzzfeed, who’s CEO recently shared their new strategic thinking, revealing how their objective has changed from getting users to click through to their main site to view stories, to allowing content to be consumed directly on other platforms. The new direction was prompted by analysing which content generated clicks and discovering that users prefer to consume some types of content within the platform they are already on. The company also found a discernable difference between user interactions with the same content on different platforms, demonstrating how content demand and consumption vary across sites. What spreads like wildfire on Facebook might fail miserably elsewhere.

 

Relevance is key

For brands looking to use social content to drive click-through to their site, it’s important to balance the goal of the company (clicks to eyeballs, or conversions to sales, for example) with the desire and behavior of users on different sites, and monitor response over time. Relevance is key to interaction, and brands that think like publishers will know that relevance is an ever-changing chameleon. While users are bombarded with meaningless clickbait, there is ample opportunity for brands to channel the social zeitgeist by delivering valuable content that meets audience needs in the format, time and platform that suits them. If they get this right, they won’t need clickbait.

 

At Mindjumpers we help companies and brands to think as publishers and provide end-to-end social media management across multiple markets, encompassing full social strategy, planned and reactive content creation, analysis and reporting.

 

If you’d like to find out more please get in touch.

 

*Don’t be naughty and scroll to the last paragraph – I’ve hidden the controversial part somewhere to optimize your dwell time in finding it!