Facebook, Twitter et al are an invaluable way for brands to engage with their customers, says David Hathiramani
As a business owner, I look at IT in terms of what it delivers for the business. Social media is another way to drive traffic, get interested people on your website and hopefully convert them into shoppers.
Conversion rates on a website are an important indicator but, in many cases, pretty meaningless. When you break down conversion rates into different types of people browsing, you realise that the headline number doesn’t show a true picture.
For example, our style advisors are passionate about tailoring, and as such contribute to our blog. We have content there that covers almost all topics related to suiting. Let’s take the example of someone who searched for ‘Boardwalk Empire suits’ in Google, and came across an article that our team had written. That browser would be less likely to convert into a sale than someone who had read an article about A Suit That Fits, and came to our site wanting to purchase. In fact, driving this less converting traffic to our website lowers our conversion rate and makes our IT team look worse. But, obviously, we want this traffic. It gets more awareness for our brand, and will hopefully make all of our other marketing activity more effective.
So, that brings me on to social media. I have had numerous discussions with other retailers on this topic, and there are lots of different views on how effective it is and can be. The consensus among all of us is that it’s not a hugely effective sales driver.
One of the people at a roundtable discussion I attended the other day summed it up quite well, and said that it’s almost like approaching someone in a pub and trying to sell them something. In fact, the traffic we drive from social media that comes directly to our website does not convert into a sale at the same level of other forms of traffic. This doesn’t really help the conversion rate metric.
Yet, at A Suit That Fits, we feel that social media is incredibly valuable. Your website and marketing materials represent what you do and how you want to be perceived. All of your social media represents who you are when you scratch beneath the surface. At our company, I feel that we’re a pretty friendly bunch and we are making tailoring accessible. We believe when people really understand who we are, then, although they may not come and purchase right away, they will think fondly of us in the future. That’s why each of our style advisors have their own branded Twitter handle – so their customers can easily engage with them, and they can share lots of different hints and tips.
It used to be that the only public aspect of a brand’s personality came from the charismatic CEO’s television appearance or perhaps an expensive celebrity endorsement. Now there are lots of different ways for businesses of all sizes to show off their personality, and if social media is used well, then it can be a great channel to do just this in a cost-effective way.
Five top tips on social media from A Suit That Fits:
- Be yourself - Authenticity is essential when it comes to social media. Your company’s Facebook page or Twitter profile must accurately reflect what the brand is all about. For example, as mentioned, every style advisor at A Suit That Fits has their own Twitter handle, and the friendliness of the brand is brought through by the nature and level of engagement with its Facebook followers.
- Consistency and regularity - There is no point having a handle and not using it. Giving your subscribers regular updates will obviously keep you front of mind but also make them realise they are getting some kind of value from their social media commitment to you. It is always good to give something back.
- Know what works - A Suit That Fits has found that people engage well with the product shots it publishes on Facebook, with the most popular posts being photos of the different suits it offers. You don’t have to be too clever; you can just keep it quite simple in what you are giving to customers.
- Campaigns - To really drive engagement via social media, a well-intentioned campaign can often go a long way. A Suit That Fits has attracted a lot of welcome attention with its second Suit For Success scheme, urging people to donate unwanted suits to charitable organisations Amber, Centrepoint and Right Futures, for the sake of giving the country’s young homeless and unemployed greater work opportunities. Social media can work as a strong channel for customer involvement in such positive schemes.
- Don’t hold back - Taking the social media plunge is only worth it if it is relevant to your customer base. However, any commitment must be wholehearted. You either do it well or not at all.