Get Social

Archive for the ‘grow your business’ Category

As I worked with a potential client today on social strategies for high-end designer clothing and accessories, I starting listing the merits of Instagram. I love it for personal shots around town, and it’s even inspired me to make a purchase from a brand I follow. I described the site as a photo-sharing tool to engage a community between brands and their customers, and threw out names of a few brands I follow. (Also noteworthy are accounts from giants in their own rights, Starbucks, NPR, and the Boston Celtics.) Anyway, here’s a quick case study of three fashion brands using Instagram to build and grow a mobile community, and why each rocks in its own way.

Kate Spade

new literature-inspired clutches, seen first on the Instagram feed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been a customer of Kate Spade over 10 years; my first “adult” wallet was a little nylon number that cost a whopping $110 but lasted me 6 years. I’ve followed the brand on twitter for the past 8 months or so and have eaten up the links to product shots and playful banter between customers and the brand avatar. They’re on their game with bi-weekly emails as well, highlighting a “color of the month,” sample sales (!), and free shipping offers. But how do they use Instagram? Their savvy social media maven started sharing product shots (including brand new pieces, which I could view before they even hit the website), behind-the-scenes grabs from window sets, and cutesy finds from around town. Branded as the hip, happy-go-lucky girl in the big city (think, what Carrie Bradshaw would share if she were snapping photos with her iPhone), there’s been an interesting shift in the past 6 weeks or so from these distanced posts to more personal content. Fans see where this mystery gal is grabbing a gelato on the Upper West Side, what music festival she went to last weekend, and who she’s meeting with at industry parties. But we’ve never seen her. She’s the anonymous fun girl everyone wants to be. She’s also keeping her Instagram feed relatively separate from Facebook and Twitter marketing(the service easily posts to these networks from inside the app)– so here’s a more isolated, VIP look inside the brand.

Current Follow Count: 28,285.

so this is what it looks like inside a fashion house, huh?

Oscar de La Renta

She’s gorgeous (from what we can see of her), she’s powerful, and she wears designer dresses like it’s her job– ’cause it is. Meet oscarprgirl, “reporting from inside one of the world’s most prestigious fashion houses.” Holy product beauty shots, batman! We meet the designer’s collections firsthand through shots of this lovely lady rocking the duds, as well as ambient shots of the sweet locations work sends her to, behind-the-scenes shots at fashion shoots, and other shots from her worldly adventures. Always with a cute and descriptive caption, I love feeling in the know about these impossibly unaffordable garments– like reading Vogue at the hair dresser, but better.

Current followers: 4,231.

Free People

I love following Free People on Twitter because they’re constantly sharing fun office culture tidbits (like who brought their dog in today) and linking to new products. You can also comment on and rate products on their website using a nice interface that actually looks useful, which I learned about thanks to Twitter.

Since Instagram allows you to mark your location alongside a photo, many of this brand’s shots come from the Home Office. They’re mostly photos of various team members (this company has a lotof accessory buyers, let me tell you!), all decked out in Free People gear. Oh, and they hit up the Pitchfork Music Fest last weekend, so fans got a glimpse of some performing acts via this feed as well. I love Free People’s bright and breezy style, and am I influenced on a daily basis to shop their collections by seeing funky people outfitted in them? You betcha.

Current Follow Count: 3,947.

adorable dress, as per usual on Free People's feed

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The adoption by the Boston Red Sox to twitter contests to score new followers has gotten me thinking about real time, location-based instaoffers. (Yup, just made up a term and a word).The latest by the Boston sports franchise is #tweetmyseat, offering the first tweeter to share his/her location along with a photo of the batter a gift basket. Cool concept, and I’m all over this when I hit Fenway on Sunday (ssh, don’t tell Mom)..but I’m curious if these schemes will offer long-term follower loyalty.

In a similar vein, @BostonTweet offers “find it” contests, sharing a picture of a gift certificate at a location and offering it up to his 20,000+ followers. They’re infrequent and random. Local Social‘s followed suit and used the planted gift card concept to drive followers of UBurger, G’vanni’s, and others to their locations to hunt down freebies.

Are these brands seeing loyalty as a result of these giveaways? Or is this more a viable strategy to drum up new interest rapidly?

We’re seeing a closer-knit brand network as a result of these promotions, and a quick surge in (inter)activity on their online feeds. But to really drive awareness and spread the word about our brands, we’re going to need to leverage some kind of cross-network promotional strategy. We’re working on it. Stay tuned.

Especially working for myself, I can get extremely bummed when I lose a client. Even when it’s for an “it’s not you, it’s me” reason, I tend to take the severance a bit personally at first. In my head, I draft a witty retort to being cut loose, making sure it’s clear that business (and life) will definitely not go on for this person without my greatness. Then, I send a note that’s a little more constructive. A quote from HBO’s Tell Me You Love Me (2007) comes to mind; a therapist shares with a client the insight that she believes it is important to take as much care ending a relationship as was spent beginning one. I spent time back and forth on email, 45 minutes on an introductory call to learn my client’s objectives, time setting up her campaign and walking her though it, driving times to meetings, etc. I might as well spend a few minutes wrapping things up with some care.

Here are points it’s key to hit when you close the door on a working relationship:

What you did (routinely)

Tactfully explain what you were doing on a daily and weekly basis, both to the client directly and behind the scenes. I wasn’t sure my client knew I monitored her Twitter follows, @ mentions, and DMs in real time and answered every inquiry between about 9 am and 12 am within the half hour. Pointing this out highlighted a nice value add that not every consultant may be committed to including.

What you accomplished (already)

Real facts and numbers here. “I was pleased with our progress, adding 20 new Facebook followers and building a Twitter following of 530 in three weeks. The 35 submissions to our contests showcased the interest customers have in your brand.” Focus on you’re accomplishments and what they mean. Show you are meeting your milestones, and that you’re thinking about them to draw conclusions.

What you were going to do

It’s worth reiterating what you had discussed for future action plans, especially highlighting any commitments you had. If you’d come up with something new since your last meeting, mention it here. If you had a contact you were going to intro for some networking opportunities, drop the name now. Maybe even be disgustingly nice and share the name anyway. No hard feelings, right?

What you could do to salvage the relationship

If this breakup hasn’t brought to light a new aspect of your client that’s less than ideal (i.e. she asked you to invoice her two days ago, and then backs out without warning and you question her to stick to an agreement) and you’d like to continue working together, grovel a bit to salvage the partnership. Were you dropped because your rate was too high? Lower it(if that makes sense and it’s what you want). Did your client opt for a competitor whose rate or scope of services you could match? Communicate that.

What you’ve learned

My last client dumped me by saying the corporate office brought on an account executive who would be contributing sales help and had the background to help with social media marketing, rendering my role obsolete. I told her that our company’s not equipped to offer sales support, but it was food for thought. Every business needs sales to succeed, so maybe we could integrate some of that work into our marketing packages.
If you’re open to working together again…

Thank your client for your time together, and close with a mention on how you’d like to reconnect in the future if that makes sense for both parties. Check in periodically if this relationship could benefit you later, and you’re not too pissed. : )

And, just for fun- enjoy Queen singing about these woes.

Well, not really. Local Social isn’t at the point where wrong decisions mean life or death (yet), but we have experimented with Trunk.ly. This Australian company’s motto is “never forget a link,” and it’s certainly genius.

If you’re in the habit of RTing useful links, or posting them to a friend, sign up for Trunk.ly and visit your page when you’re scratching your head/pulling out your hair because the link is lost in the depths of Gmail. Think of this service as a backup for your brain– and cleaner than favorite-ing every link you just can’t be without. You can also export your posted links as yet another form of backup.

You can enjoy the plethora of useful content I keep track of on my personal feed while our team is hard at work building our website for a tentative launch on– gasp– Monday. Stay tuned!

As a business consultant constantly considering scaling and always re-evaluating roles, it’s been on my mind lately if our Local Social salespeople should stick to just sales. In my own experience, I look back to my first job out of college, in B2B market intelligence, where I was constantly frustrated that I had so many other talents and interests but was forced to stick to my 150+ cold calls per day. Then, I think about how happy I’ve been with start ups like CoupMe, where my focus shifted constantly and I was responsible for sales, but had other tasks on my plate too– and a good chunk of “sales” meant account management and client services, really. In the case of the former, I see how I benefited the company, but I left after 8 months from burning out and constantly exceeding my previous milestones in terms of sheer volume and engagement to challenge myself. So, net unsuccessful. In the latter, I see how I benefited the company by sharing a variety of skills, but at a time when the need was for sales, sales, sales, and the team wasn’t delivering, my full attention to selling could have made a significant difference. So, net unsuccessful again.

There’s a pretty clear dichotomy here; on the one hand, we have the argument that sales people should stick to a singular task. Sales is mentally taxing, and demands that an individual be focused on your business’ value adds, relevance in the industry, and economic need to keep selling itself to stay profitable (and keep a team employed). I’d say 95% of the sales people I’ve worked alongside are good at talking to people, gauging emotions and timing, and have the schedule flexibility to put their time in where it’s needed. Maybe they take that 20 minute bitch break at 3:30 pm, but they’re also picking up the phone at 8 to place that call back that a gatekeeper demanded. Those 95% are also not people I felt were better suited to complete other tasks. I wasn’t thinking, Bob’s such a witty writer; it’s too bad he can’t contribute copy or, I wish Susan managed vendor payments since she has a strong administrative background. Now, I’m a 20-something Bostonian who has shied away from super corporate environments, and I’m not going to say I can speak for everyone. But, in my experience, I’ve met very few sales people who I feel are wasting a different talent.

On the other, we have someone like myself. In the case of Local Social, we are two young professionals starting a brand without a budget and without the desire to expand so quickly that we haven’t developed a demand for our services before we build a team. Personally, I’ve backed off sales, because it’s not my strength(and I’m so concerned with hitting financial milestones that I’m not negotiating contracts well), and it is my bias that sales should be a completely separate responsibility. I’m happy to sell our brand in a different way; while I’m not picking up the phone and convincing local business owners to give us a try, I’m locking down clients through network referrals, and selling our services through the client work we do and the (hopefully) useful content posted to our blog.

So, sorry for another “all about me” post. We’re striving to be an industry resource, however, and points on how to delegate workload for an itsy-bitsy new venture are quite relevant. If I’ve given you any insight to take away and consider, then I’m meeting my milestones here. [Source]

Here at Local Social, we like words. A lot. We use them when we’re posting content for our clients on Facebook and Twitter, when we’re speaking to vendors on their behalf, and when we’re blogging. One word that’s been on my mind since reading Rework[find it on Amazon here] is “asap.” The authors have coined the catchphrase “asap is poison,” and their argument holds up: basically, don’t tell someone you’ll do something “as soon as possible.” If an action item is a priority, obviously you’ll get to it as soon as you can. What does that even mean?

If you’re going to prioritize something (or not), just say, “I’ll do it” PERIOD. Or, “I’ll do it within ____ [tangible amount of time, i.e. the hour. And you mean it.] Or even,  “I’ll get to that after I grab a sandwich, floss my teeth, get an oil change, pick up my kid from school, shoot off that project proposal, and check Facebook for five minutes.”

Either give someone no room to guess when something could be done, or explain clearly what your timetable is. “ASAP” hinges on a lot of factors. What if it’s never possible to get to the task?

I find myself at my desk job jotting memos to the team about how I’m “getting Verizon in to look at the phone line issue ‘asap'” and find myself hitting the delete key and giving a precise answer. Otherwise, all I’m saying is I’m getting the job done “at some point, when it could happen, depending on a variety of factors, over some of which I have no control.”

It’s just one of those four letter words that’s NSFW.

37 Signals founders Friedman and Hansson give the middle finger to conventional business practices in Rework

Lately, I’ve been championing twitter to my clients as the way to have your voice heard. Funny, when I read recently that a whopping 8% of internet users have a twitter handle. To support my instinct that twitter is still a relevant tool to reach the masses, I can site Techland’s September 2010 study, which concludes that twitter users average 18-24 years old, with an annual income either below $30,000 or between $50,000- nearly $75,000 and typically reside in cities. Cool. Boston-area businesses, let’s use twitter to market to them!

What I’m interested in sharing are some categories of tweets that yield strong returns. This post isn’t so much about tweets with ROI, but with return on no investment. Sure, we can get all meta about this and consider the device on which you tweet an investment, the person you’ve hired to tweet for you an investment, even the physical exertion of typing the words or copying a link cost energy. But we can all agree that twitter is a free service to use and the words you say don’t cost you cash to think up and push off into cyberspace.

So, for no cost to you, consider these options:

  • RT Contests. Duhh. “RT to win 2 tickets to tonight’s sold out show @RandomConcertVenue”. Your post gets pushed to every follower of the re-tweeter. If you’re giving away something cool or have interesting things to say, expect to pick up some followers from the effort.

Just for fun, a twitter search for “RT to win” around 9:15 on a Tuesday night yields this random sampling of fun giveways:

*New Jersey area: “Follow and RT @AnthonysCake for chance to win a Homemade Baileys Chocolate Irish Cream Cheesecake for St Pattys Day. Good Luck!!” [thanks, @won2x]

*New York:”Add @MidnightBox & RT for a chance to WIN a Portable GPS Navigation Unit! Once we reach 2,000 followers, we will randomly select a winner!” [via @sethandshannon1 ]

*for pet lovers: “Win $1k of pet supplies. For you and favorite shelter. RT to enter #contest to #win free prize. ClassWish.org #dog classwish.org/fido” [from @Ardy22 ]

 

  • Link to current content. Got photos of a new product or something relevant to the community? Somerville-based Trina’s Starlite Lounge [@trinastarlite ] is awesome about posting their Dog of the Day and Blue Plate Specials. Down the street in Cambridge, Inman’s East Coast Grill [@EastCoastGrill] posted funny pictures of the staff shoveling during Snowmageddon 2010. Build a sense of community and approachability with your followers by sharing relevant content– often. On days when I don’t see at least one post from these spots on my feed, I wonder what’s up.

And, PS, we’re talking built-in metrics now; twitpics and youtube pages, for example, publicly count number of views.

  • Engage in Dialogue with customers. Follow the customers who follow you, and see what they’re up to. Check your @ mentions at least once daily, since some may be questions of conversation starters. When I asked frequent  updates Alice + Olivia a sizing question and didn’t hear back, I was pretty put off! (Granted, they have 14,000 followers, but still!) Conversely, I mentioned ordering yoga gear from be present, and their social maven was quick to tweet me back, asking what I’d ordered. Their speed to connect with me parallels speedy service and prompt email resolution to questions. Companies on top of their social on the most basic employee-to-customer level put customer service first, and there’s really no other appropriate way to do business.

Anything we missed? What other tweets score serious impressions, contribute to additional site/content views, or connect with customers?