Social media and the retail industry: the importance of strategy and passion


Matt Rhodes - FreshNetworks - Social Media and Retail

Matt Rhodes at the FreshNetworks Breakfast Briefing

Another successful FreshNetworks breakfast briefing has just come to a close. This time the topic was ‘social media and retail’. The two speakers were Naomi Paget (Head of Direct Marketing at TM Lewin) and our own Matt Rhodes.

The breakfast briefing was split into three main parts. First, Naomi talked about how TM Lewin has been using social media as part of their e-commerce site and then Matt presented the results of a recent campaign we ran with Jimmy Choo. He also discussed how to take the first steps towards looking at social media from a business perspective.

First up was Naomi. She is one of our clients here at FreshNetworks and has been working with us since spring 2009.

TM Lewin: the Off the Cuff online community

TM Lewin have a very clear strategy of what they want to achieve from social media (some of these aims include things like “educate and excite customers about the brand and product, Get customer insight into our product, marketing and services and be seen as an authority on business dress”) and they now have a presence on various social media platforms including a Facebook page, YouTube channel, Twitter account and their own community ‘Off the Cuff’. The strategy is performing well against their objectives (see #FreshNetworks tweets for some of the highlights) but one thing was clear from Naomi. Internal passion is the key to success.

TM Lewin has made the most of their community because the employees utilising it have a passion to proactively engage with community members. Because of this enthusiasm, community members have direct contact with the senior management team at TM Lewin, making them feel more valued and increasing loyalty. TM Lewin is using this engagement to help spread positive messages through its current (and prospective) customer bases, gaining valuable insight and feedback on their activities.

TM Lewin has also noticed that people who enter the ecommerce site via the community are more likely to convert on their first site visit and so the community is directly attributing to sales (we can’t share the exact numbers but they are not insignificant!). It was great to hear Naomi’s talk because it highlighted the fact that social media isn’t always about the £ sign - sometimes this comes second to the other benefits that engaging with social media can offer a business.

Jimmy Choo: CatchAChoo

Next up was Matt Rhodes talking about Jimmy Choo , the CatchAChoo campaign and the importance of having a solid strategy for the foundations or all your engagement.
We have just finished running a campaign for Jimmy Choo where we organised a treasure hunt around London using Foursquare to help promote the launch of their new trainer range. There were a number of clear objectives behind this campaign (full case study coming soon) but the main reason we used this approach was because learnt from working with Jimmy Choo on a previous project that the actual purchasing of the shoes is part of the appeal, therefore using Foursquare seemed like a perfect opportunity to bridge the gap between online and offline engagement.

Four steps to building a social media strategy

CatchAChoo, followed a process that was the basis of the second part of Matt Rhodes presentation - a four step guide to building social media strategy:

  1. Understand what people are saying – Before you start any social media strategy you need to know who is talking, where they are talking and what they are talking about. This is an important step as it allows you to identify the needs of the people you are engaging with and how you should go about approaching them.
  2. Know what you are trying to achieve – Matt used an appropriate analogy to sum up this point:“if you were going to the moon you would have a solid reason for doing so! You would just invest all your time and resources doing it for no reason”. Social media it is not as grand as flying to the moon but it does follow similar logic. If you’re going to be invest time and resources, have a clear strategy of what you want to achieve and how you will measure this.
  3. Experiment – Social media tools are changing all the time so using your initial insight from step 1, keep your aims in mind but try different things out. There are no right or wrong ways to use different tools; it all depends on your audience and your business so try different things out until you are meeting your aims.
  4. Ruthlessly measure the impact you are having – This is the most important stage. All your interactions however they are being undertaken should meet the aims of your initial strategy. Regular reporting will allow you to have a diverse strategy and understand what is working well (and what isn’t) so you can change your tactics to make them more beneficial to the business.

It was a great event with some really good questions and thoughts coming from the people that attended. Thanks to everyone that came and we hope that you all took something away with you (besides a load of chocolate muffins) and if you have any thoughts on what was discussed it would be great to hear your comments!

Social media + online shopping = social shopping



Ever since sites like Kaboodle and Zebo spearheaded “social shopping” (a mix of e-commerce and traditional shopping where consumers shop in a social networking environment) consumers now have the ability to swap ideas, share product reviews and discuss latest fashion trends with like-minded people before, during and after their decision making and purchasing journey.

Social shopping has certainly helped to personalise the sometimes faceless online shopping experience.  And with 67% of shoppers spending more money online after recommendations from an online community of friends or like-minded people (according to Internet Retailer) a key element of social shopping seems to be the ability to recommend and share additional items that shoppers are likely to want to purchase.

A recent social shopping survey by e- tailer PowerReviews has also shown that a retailer’s own e-commerce sites play an important role in the purchasing process.  Survey respondents rated customer reviews as being the most persuasive factor in making a purchase and nearly half of all respondents said they would leave a retailer’s site if user-generated reviews were lacking.

Online shoe and clothing shop Zappos has certainly taken this knowledge to heart.  Largely known for their successful use of Twitter, thanks to the CEO lending his personality to the company brand, Zappos was also one of the early adopters of social shopping. Their site has a comprehensive ratings and reviews section to advise people on what products they might like based on their purchase selection, aiding the shopping process and helping with the conversion rate. They also have a “notify me of new styles” button, as well as plenty of  “favourite” ratings options so that customers can formulate a shopping list based on selections made by customers who have viewed the same or similar products.

More recently, apparel company Levi Strauss and Co has turned their hand to  social shopping . Their new Levi’s friends store uses the recently-launched  Facebook “like” plugin  to allow shoppers to see the number of Facebookers who ‘like’ an  item. It also allows the shopper to cast a vote about a product, encouraging joint participation in what was previously an individual shopping experience.

Social shopping can benefit retailers in several ways, especially if it is integrated with a wider online sales strategy.  With this in mind, we’re running a free breakfast seminar for retailers on how to use social shopping to increase online profits.

The event runs from 8.30am-10.30am on Wednesday 19th May and will include useful tips and advice on social shopping from the likes of  Geoff Quinn, CEO of TM Lewin, as well as real-life case studies from high-end brands like Jimmy Choo.

While the event is free to attend we ask that you register for the event below or call us on 0207 692 4376 to attend.

Please note: As places are limited the event is reserved for retailers only.

  • Location: FreshNetworks, 229 High Holborn, WC1V 7DA,  London (map)
  • Date and time: Wednesday 19th May 2010, 08:30-10:30

Breakfast Briefing: Social media for not-for-profits and member organisations



Both not-for-profit and membership organisations rely on their members.  There’s just no getting away from that fact. And in order to increase their membership base both nfp and membership organisations need to interact with the public to gain support.

Several charities have already turned to social media as a way of engaging people. A  recent article from Third Sector reported that charities are using blogs, forums and other social media tools to highlight their key aims and encourage word-of-mouth . Large charities like Cancer Research, Amnesty International and ActionAid are all using social media, in particular, blogging, to increase their online presence. But are they using social media to actively strengthen their membership base or is it just another communication tool?

And what about membership organisations? Membership organisations are traditionally viewed as a source of specialist information and advice. They also provide an arena for networking with people who have a similar interest, profession or background.  Today, however,  many of these services are offered elsewhere for free. Search engines give people the ability to look up detailed information on the web.  Social networking tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, allow people to reach out and communicate with people “like them”, giving them the opportunity to seek advice and to interact with each other without the need of a third party.

So as more and more people use social media tools to interact and connect with like-minded people, membership organisations need to develop a social media strategy to harness and utilise these connections.  Membership organisations need to join the online conversation. They need to use social media to engage with the people who would be interested in joining their group - and often these people are already talking to eachother, so this should be easy to do.

With this in mind, we’re running a free breakfast seminar for nfp and membership organisations on how to strengthen membership strategy with social media.  The event starts at 8.30am on Thursday 18th February and will include useful tips, advice and case studies from the likes of  Bertie Bosredon, Assistant Director of Services at Breast Cancer Care, and Steve Bridger, Social Media Consultant for nfp and membership organisations.

If you’re an nfp or membership organisation and you want to find out how you can strengthen your membership strategy with social media you can register below for the event.

Strengthen your membership strategy with social media

  • Location: FreshNetworks, 229 High Holborn, WC1V 7DA,  London (map)
  • Date and time: Thursday February 18, 2010, 08:30-10:30