Archive for the ‘Mark Jennings’ Category.

Why have a Facebook shop?

Online fashion retailer ASOS recently announced that it would be opening a Facebook store at the end of January, allowing users to buy items directly from within the social network rather than having to click through to the ASOS homepage.

This is becoming a trend for major retailers and we will see more of it in 2011, but is it a fad or is there real reason to take this form of social commerce seriously?

A report from Experian shows that ASOS gets a lot of its traffic from social media sites. In December their Social Networks and Forums category was the third biggest source of traffic to the retailer’s website, accounting for 14.62% of all traffic to ASOS.com. Social networks also seem to endear more brand loyalty for ASOS than other sources of traffic: 65.5% of the visitors coming via the channel were returning to ASOS rather than visiting the site for the first time. By way of comparison, 56.9% of customers that came via search engines were returning visitors.

Facebook is clearly a very big part of the social networking visits delivering traffic to ASOS, and alone is responsible for 12% of all visits to the website. As the second single biggest driver of traffic to ASOS after Google UK, Facebook has become an integral part ASOS’s online strategy; allowing consumers to buy products directly from Facebook is the next logical step for ASOS.

Keeping consumers in one place for any period of time online is challenging, especially given the millions of other websites available for people to visit. The same report highlights that the average session time for a visit to ASOS is just over 12 minutes and interestingly their Search Sequence tool shows that the number one search term that UK Internet users type into search engines, both before and after ‘asos’, is ‘facebook’.

When people online are navigating away from ASOS, the first thing they want to check is Facebook. So if people can shop through Facebook, then they have no need to navigate away from their familiar surroundings. As the average session time for a visit to Facebook is 27 minutes, it could be argued that consumers are more likely to hang around to shop through Facebook than they are on the ASOS site.

The Facebook store is due to go live by the end of January and, although this may lead to a drop in traffic coming from Facebook to the ASOS store, overall the company will expect to offset this decline by making additional online sales that it would not previously have captured. With nearly 400,000 followers on Facebook, ASOS has a huge captive audience to target.

FreshNetworks will be monitoring what happens to see how successful the campaign has been, and what lessons should be learnt.

Facebook for fashion brands - it’s about more than the product

WaveMetrix have published their review of Q4 2010 social media trends and it highlights some interesting moves for fashion brands using social media, especially Facebook.

Burberry and Lacoste joined Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton and Gucci with a greater focus on brand-related content, such as music and sport which positively affected engagement, brand sentiment and purchase consideration.

Burberry, by running their Burberry Acoustic music campaign alongside content on the Burberry clothes collections, have succeeded in engaging consumers with the wider culture of the brand and this significantly increased consumer discussion. You can see from the pie chart below which areas the audience were engaged around.

Lacoste use a mix of fashion and non fashion content, such as their ATP Tour sponsorship to engage consumers and positively affect sentiment, as this pie chart shows.

That trend is not universal however. The report also highlighted that for other brands engaging consumers closely on product range can drive purchase consideration, with Xbox and BMW notable winners here.  Zara on the other hand, with its focus on product discussion, failed to drive notable purchase consideration – which shows the importance of the right strategy.

As an aside, a new report I saw recently, which will feature in another post, showed that a high percentage of consumers ‘Like’ competing brands on Facebook showing that on social networks genuine brand loyalty is hard to come by.

Preparing for significant regulation changes in social media

My first session on the IAB Social Media Council had us debating the upcoming regulation changes which will see the ASA’s remit extended to cover marketing on websites from 1st March 2011.

So what? Well the Advertising Standards Authority is “the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media” but until now this did not include websites (and for websites also read social networks, blogs etc). This new regulation means that marketing communications on companies’ own websites and in other third party space under their control, such as Facebook and Twitter, will have to adhere to the “non-broadcast advertising rules” as set out in the CAP Code.

The aim is to drive companies to ensure marketing messages on their websites are legal, decent, honest and truthful. This should go without saying but think of how celebs are used in social media marketing – when they are speaking about a product are they doing so because they are paid? What about the blog you read extolling a product – was that review paid for? Currently this is unclear but the ASA aims to remove that uncertainty.

How? Well, the ASA does not set rules, just guidance so it is currently unclear exactly what will fall foul of the regulations.

On the Council we are looking to lead the way with self regulation and I am interested in your views of how this should be done?

  • Should sponsored tweets feature a hashtag such as #ad or #spon
  • What if a paid brand advocate happens to tweet about the brand, is this ‘paid’
  • What constitutes being paid? Is a blogger who is given product to review ‘paid’?

At FreshNetworks we have always advocated responsible social media practice and support the ASA’s work to clear up this grey area.

I will be updating you as new information comes out and would love your thoughts on this as they will help drive the self regulation response.

Lack of community management is “a huge missed opportunity for brands”

photo-online_communityBrands are learning and applying a more focused and disciplined approaches to their social assets, the November 2010 ComBlu report finds.

The “State of online branded communities” report evaluated 241 communities from 78 enterprise level companies in the US and shows that the percentage of brands exhibiting a ‘cohesive strategy’ increased from 20% to 33%.

Top scoring brands such as American Express, EA, Discovery Channel, HP, Sears, Verizon, Activision, Kimberly-Clark, AT&T and Sony delivered online communities with three primary purposes: Feedback, Advocacy and Support and were measured against their member engagement.

The report highlighted that the “design of community marketing programs must deliberately follow a best practices road map and generate business intelligence that provides a diagnostic for maximizing impact and return on investment (ROI)”.  Community Management was highlighted as core to this yet nearly half of the communities still have no active online community manager visible as the “face of the brand.

An Online Community Manager is key to stimulating and growing the community’s audience (as FreshNetworks have seen in the success of the RS Components DesignSpark community, and Jimmy Choo Facebook page). Community Managers also actively engage brand advocates, which the report highlights are being ignored, with only 20% of the scored communities have a visible advocate or expert group: a huge missed opportunity for their brands.”

That said, brands are doing a much better job delivering diverse experiences by providing members with multiple ways to participate. The report found that the use of aligned engagement tools nearly tripled, growing from 28% to 76% and activity levels in online communities are also significantly higher. This hub-and-spoke model of social media engagement is a something we feel strongly about – that people operate in different modes in different social spaces.

Brands that focus their communities on support tend to be among the highest scoring; these communities are the most mature and have evolved consistently over time. The lowest scoring communities provide no real path to engagement. They tend to allow some interaction with content, but provide few ways to connect with peers, build on the thoughts or ideas of others, or provide any feedback.

Best practice was defined as a clear Welcome message, Connection to offline engagement, Advocate programs, and Community managers. The five most improved brands—Verizon, Hewlett-Packard, JPMorgan Chase, American Express and Microsoft — have all adopted practices that allow for a customized experience, facilitate interaction with both the brand and community peers, and provide recognition for contributions and efforts.

One of the more relevant findings was that there is now a much greater integration between a brand’s sponsored community site and its other social assets such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, with 61% of brands offering content sharing functionality.

Some specific market highlights:

Banking and financial

JPMorgan Chase went from an unpopulated community with little to no member activity to very active (more than 2 million fans) by using a tight focus, such as using the community to determine where to “invest” its charitable donations. The communities that do well tend to focus on a very specific segment, such as small businesses or support CSR initiatives.

Retail

Activity levels dropped across the sector, with 78% of the communities exhibiting low engagement levels. The decrease in both content aggregation and content tagging along with low level of social bookmarking functionality was suggested as the reason for this – impeding the seamless social shopping experience.

One of the emerging best practices for this industry is the aggregation of product reviews, research info and peer-to-peer conversations at the point of sale to help customers make purchase decisions.