eCommerce and social media – what do customers really care about?

We had a really interesting conversation with one of our clients about ‘social commerce’ recently. (Social commerce or sCommerce is the use of social media in the context of e-commerce, for example user ratings and reviews, recommendations and referrals, forums and communities and advertising across social networks).

We were discussing a number of brands seemingly doing it well and although we had great examples of activity and experimentation, mostly in the fashion sector, it’s still a challenge to single out brands where social media is making a consistent and measurable difference to the bottom line.

Last month, Ted Baker’s Take on Ted online marketing campaign tapped into all of the latest trends in eCommerce and sCommerce.

The campaign combined Facebook activity, an advocacy programme, Twitter and the Ted Baker website to deliver a campaign live to an international audience.  The campaign involved seven US based bloggers, who tweeted @ted_baker instructing stylists how to dress models based in the London headquarters.

The bloggers, including Brit abroad, Karen Blanchard, were briefed on looks they were to create and given 15 minute slots live online to deliver the looks.  The team at Tedbaker HQ, then styled the models while the video of the looks being put together was streamed live on Ted Baker site.  Images of the final looks were then uploaded to the Ted Facebook page – which at the most recent count, has more than 22,000 fans – for their comment and feedback.

So far, so creative…it’s a heady mix of super cool US blogging, live action and social media; BUT…what did it achieve?

As a PR stunt, it was great, providing followers with genuine entertainment and with an aggressive US store opening strategy in the pipe line (New York and Chicago stores both opened in the last 4 weeks), it’s tapped into the fashionista US blogosphere at an important time.

In terms of fan engagement, although there were some tweets and comments around Take on Ted, the most popular look received about 60 comments or votes on Facebook – a small drop in the ocean, you could argue.

But in terms of sales, was Ted Baker missing a trick?  We loved the Ted Baker campaign, the brand took risks and experimented, but we think having a couple of digital marketers in the room at brief stage could have made this campaign work harder for them.

The campaign was crying out for a way to enable fans to buy parts of the outfit direct through Facebook.  There’s a lovely swizzle VT piece on the Take on Ted page, but we’d have recommended using this great content to gain wider coverage, build links from relevant websites and perhaps most importantly, worked with the footage to ‘hotspot’ it to encourage sales.

Our view is supported by Google. Their retail blog had a interesting post earlier this month, which is real food for sCommerce thought.  Google claims that shoppers have been conditioned to primarily engage with a brand through social media for the purposes of receiving offers, coupons and discounts (certainly Google’s recent  interest in Groupon supports their point of view and in terms of the sheer volume and popularity of voucher sites tells a positive story for eCommerce). Therefore, as creative as the Take on Ted campaign was, it perhaps failed in understanding the audience and their primary goal in engaging with the brand; the opportunity to purchase the products on show (and ideally at a discount).

So how do we link up the two disciplines?  How do you develop a relationship with an audience to foster and encourage demand and repeat purchase when all they seem to want is discounts?

Making sure your digital marketers are in the room when you’re briefing out the creative is key – make your fabulous and exciting PR and online engagement stunt work harder in terms of sales and search.  Think holistically and not only will your audience love your brand, but you’ll also love the sales you’re making as a result!

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