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6 Paid-Owned-Earned Ideas in Retail from eTail’s Social Day

Team AddThis was out at eTail’s Social Commerce & Engagement Summit yesterday in Boston, and the themes of how social and data impact Paid-Owned-Earned strategies were front and center.  While it’s often tough to come with completely new ideas for conferences, it’s great to have innovative, cool examples of the things we already know to be true.  Here are 6 insights that came out from the speakers loud and clear:

1.  2 social platforms still dominate, but everyone has a different #3
Everyone started their conversations talking about Facebook and Twitter strategies, but quickly the conversation turned to additional outlets – starting with YouTube, FourSquare, Instagram, and Google+.  Matthew Shadbolt from the Corcoran Group, a real estate firm in NYC, gave examples of building a war chest of local tips in FourSquare and using Google+ for hangouts.  After stories of how videos of gamers unboxing their Freek products became key content, Ashish Mistry from KontrolFreek shared that 30% of their traffic is coming from YouTube.  And I was a little surprised to hear from @virginia_suliman that Instagram is a key platform for HIlton Hotels, but not so much that it is for employees at ModCloth who use it to show off their favorite vintage-inspired gear.

2.  Different social networks call for different content
Growing up with social at its heart, ModCloth’s Hema Padhu noted that that their teams create unique content for the 17 different social networks they use because “your users will know if you don’t” (true that…)  Mostly through Pinterest, 65% of Modcloth’s traffic is unpaid driven by social sharing.  Their users share about 4X more on Pinterest than on Facebook, showing that for users sharing the right content to the right community is as important for brands.  Corcoran’s brokers are posting “Blair Witch” type videos to YouTube to show the insides of closets and all the little details that make an apartment but are pulling together neighborhood tips tor Google+.  Ashish from KontrolFreek informed us that hosting cat videos for gamers was a value-add branding gold mine, while Spreadshirt is working closely with YouTube celebrities on their own products.  @L_McCadney from CDW gave more specifics about how to get the right content to each area.  She walked through their process for building out a different editorial calendar for each platform each week based on the social scorecard from the week before.

3.  Social is the behavior not the platform
Although strategies by platform are easier to quantify, we also heard from The Echo System that only .1% – 4% of brands actually have fans engage with them on the social networks.  Capturing the value of local, @BJ_Emerson from @TastiDLite and David Sinatra from @Stussy talked about the power of getting on-the-ground, in-store teams who know their customers to create and share content.  KontrolFreek talked about addressing this situation by creating its own destination, Freek Nation, to be sure that its top advocates and affiliates can have a home-away from home for direct interaction when it makes sense.

4.  Mobile and social together are rewriting design, payments, and pretty much everything
I would never have thought that I would be blown away by web UX from a baking ingredient company, but King Arthur Flour’s presentation on mobile-first responsive design that optimized for shopping, prepping, and sticky fingers showed the power of focus and mapping to the user.  Reminding us that 45% of social is mobile, Buck’s goal of adding one-click payment options to social platforms hopefully means that the 1 minute we are willing to spend checking out on mobile (as opposed to the 5-7 minutes on desktop) will not be much of a barrier.  @Kleitch shared an amazing case study on 2X conversion rates on mobile payments once the purchase becomes one click (and reducing required fields the first time).

5.  Social can be the feel good part of digital strategies … let’s call it brand-tastic
We all know that social networks give us an emotional pick-me-up when our birthdays or vacation shots get likes and comments, but @Adamkmiec from Campbells and @damurillo from The Little Black Bag gave great examples of how sales come from being amazed and engaged.  Although he was laser-focused on using data and insights, Adam gave rousing examples on from how Campbells, Nike, Coke, and others have used social to create meaningful brand connections (and content) to drive offline sales.  From the purely digital world, The Little Black Bag has built discovery purchasing site by modeling a fun, social experience from Japan called “lucky bag sales” where shoppers get surprise purchases and then trade (and buy) their favorites.

6.  Social does drive sales, but all paths are different…
Merkle gave a great example from 1-800-Flowers of how connected data (in their case across internal systems) allowed offers and loyalty programs to maintain relationships and orders from current customers.   For Corcoran, developing web content from apartment videos to tips allows them to stay top of mind for the average of 2 years that home buyers are in market, driving sales when customers gravitate to them on aggregated listings pages.  ModCloth’s “Make the Cut” program, which invites customers to design products using employee mood boards generates 70% higher order values than other products on site.

The world of social is always getting wider and deeper – whether through sharing, social data, or customer insights – so great to get new examples of how commerce brands are putting it to good use.  Thanks to Meghan Unger from eTail Boston for organizing!