Why social media is important for customer engagement at Fat Face



UK lifestyle clothing brand Fat Face announced its year end results earlier this week for the 52 weeks to 31 May 2014 and revealed that much of its growth was thanks to its high levels of customer engagement – of which social media played a huge part.

“In addition to our traditional web presence and email communication with customers, we are increasingly interacting with customers through social media,” said Fat Face CEO Anthony Thompson. “During the year we launched a competition to win a Land Rover which ran for nine weeks and attracted 250,000 entrants,” he said.

The company revealed increasing ecommerce sales – up by 26% — and now representing 15% of the company’s overall sales – the latter up by 3% on last year. After relaunching its website in October the retailer plans further website enhancements, such as order in-store and click-and-collect, and increasing the number of customer database records, particularly email addresses, in order to drive customer engagement and maximise the benefit of promotions.

Customer engagement is vital for any retailer in today’s age but for retailers that truly embrace the opportunity that social media offers them – not only as a customer service channel but also as a customer communication and engagement channel – there is the opportunity to see the same sorts of results as Fat Face.

The company has nearly 19,000 followers on Twitter whilst its Facebook page has more than 100,000 likes.


5 steps to better customer interactions on social media

It’s rare for someone to start a presentation with the words ‘I’m not going to tell you anything new’, but that’s what Ben Blakesley, global social media, Reebok, did at #SMWF North America last month. But there was a logical reason to his claim: “The reason I’m not going to do that is because social media is a newish tool but it’s still communication. It’s still the same thing we’ve always been doing and all the same old rules apply,” he said.

After a decade in social media he should know. At the show he explained how to make the best of social media as a customer service channel and the five steps to better customer interactions on social media.

Blakesley said brands and businesses had three choices when dealing with customer service online. “You can do nothing, you can respond to people or you can make it what your brand on social media is all about. It will be a customer service channel for your company whether you like it or not so you have to prepare for it,” he said. (more…)

7 top tips from Upworthy to drive viral content

If anyone should know about how to drive viral content it’s Upworthy, the viral content site that launched in March 2012. Today it has commanded a large, loyal audience of socially conscious and socially connected people. In a keynote address at #SMWF North America last month the company’s director of revenue Josh Luger revealed his top tips for getting heard in the battle for attention.


1) Purpose is an incredibly powerful motivator

Luger said the topics that Upworthy focussed on, that include the environment and racial equality, could be the most powerful of all. “Content that connects with people deeply can go viral. There is a misconception that content like that can’t go viral and isn’t sharable but it can be the most sharable content on the internet. It’s not just about creating stuff that’s humorous and entertaining. Something of social significance can be as sharable as something funny,” he said.

2) Quality is more important than ever

It’s no surprise that quality matters – when customers are literally drowning in content then quality wins over quantity since it engages people for longer and at a deeper level, said Luger. He said quality had to be top of mind. “You need to be really smart about the type of content you put out to your audience. When you look at the top social publishers they are putting out 7,000 pieces of content every month. We put out less than 300 stories every month so the average media company is putting out more every day than we do in a month,” he said. He also pointed out that the belief that content creation was the only way to go was misconstrued and spoke of the emotional attachment that can cloud judgement over content created. “One of the values of curation is you don’t have to be emotionally invested in the content so you can spend your time just looking for really great pieces of content,” he said. (more…)

What was the most important lesson you learnt at #SMWF N. America?

Well we hope you have all had a chance to absorb everything you heard at our recent #SMWF North America and wondered what was the most important lesson you learnt at #SMWF North America?

For us the show was a big success and we would like to say thank you to everyone – from attendees, sponsors and exhibitors – for taking part.

With nearly 70 speakers covering everything from digital marketing and PR to data and analytics as well as many other hot topics of debate in social media and marketing there was something for everything to learn and the heads of social, marketing managers and C-level executives who attended the show certainly seemed enthusiastic if our own social media feeds were anything to go by. (more…)

#SMWF N. America 2014 in photos

We hope you’ve enjoyed the interactive debate and discussion at #SMWF N. America as much as we have! Thank you to everyone who attended and made the event so productive and engaging. Here are our photo highlights from last week’s show….



Five #SMWF North America highlights you missed today and five you can’t afford to miss tomorrow




Our #SMWF North America show opened this morning to an excited crowd eager to hear from our experts, so if you weren’t there what were the five #SMWF North America highlights you missed today and five you can’t afford to miss tomorrow?

Today you missed:

1)      A keynote panel on attracting, engaging and converting fans to become brand advocates – hearing from the likes of Scott Lux, Vice President, Ecommerce and Multi Channel, Diesel, @ScottyDLux, Nick Ayres, Director, Social Marketing, InterContinental Hotels Group, @nickjayres Juliana Stock, VP, Corporate Brand Strategy, A+E Networks, @jmkstock, Sean Gardner, Forbes #1 Social Media Power Influencer, 2morrowknight, @2morrowknight and Jordan Kretchmer, Founder and CEO, Livefyre, @jkretch


2)      The importance of social in the customer journey of Wendy’s – hearing from Brandon Rhoten, VP, Digital & Social Media, Wendy’s, @brhoten about how Wendy’s is updating everything from its physical restaurants to digital presence to be relevant to a generation with more quick service restaurant choices than ever.


MasterCard’s Priceless Surprises has been one its most successful social campaigns as JR Badian explains

Justin Timberlake provides a Priceless Surprise for a MasterCard cardholder





17 years ago MasterCard launched its Priceless campaign – yet with the help of social media its latest reiteration of the story- Priceless Surprises – has been one of its most engaging marketing campaigns ever. JR Badian, vice president and senior business leader for US digital marketing and social media for MasterCard will explain more later this week at #SWMF North America. Ahead of the show we caught up with him to find out more.

What is Priceless Surprises?

“Priceless Surprises is the third generation of our Priceless campaign which allows us the ability to give MasterCard cardholders something of value in the form of a surprise,” says Badian. The campaign, which began in January, will run for a year with programs running worldwide. It delivers surprises to consumers from either using their card or having engaged via social media. The recent Justin Timberlake campaign can be seen by clicking this link

How successful has it been?

“It’s probably our most successful social media campaign to date because we are seeing the more consumers engage with us, the more they are excited about the brand. We are providing reasons to engage and participate, and that’s energizing the brand,” he says.

Ten ways that social influencer outreach needs to change if it is to stay successful

Richard Jones, CEO of EngageSciences, will be chairing a panel at #SMWF North America next week that will look at ways social influencer outreach needs to change if it is to stay successful. So why does it need to change and what do brands need to do?

1) Stop targeting the same people

The more traditional approach for influencer outreach has been to use social listening technologies to understand who are the major influencers in a category and then connecting with them, with incentive or sponsorship driven influencer outreach programs, but Jones says that needs to change. “Those influencers are typically the people that everyone else is chasing, so you have a lot of brands targeting the same individuals. Those people are easily discovered so everyone is going after them so you may spend a lot of money and get little for it,” he says.

2) Look at your wider public influencers

Jones advises brands look closer to home for their influencers. “In the age of social media isn’t everyone an influencer of some sort?” he asks. “We are seeing some brands trying to look at social influencers at scale looking at the joe public who are influential in a smaller way but with so many more of them can deliver far greater reach and at a cheaper price point,” he says.

3) Avoid closed influencer programmes

Although some brands have been looking to do exactly the above with advocate programmes these are often closed programmes where they have to register and brands give them some sort of reward based on their sharing. “Those have been rolled out by a number of companies in the last year or so,” says Jones. But he argues as to whether they actually work “Is that actually fake advocacy? Are you really just paying for people to spray content,” he asks.

4) Move instead to open influencer programmes

Jones says it’s time for change. “What we need is a bit of a mindshift. Brands need to look at any consumer connected with them as a potential advocate. Your social influencer programmes are really about connecting with all your advocates,” he says.

5) Structure your management of such influencers

Jones argues that simply by funnelling such customers through a more structured programme they can move rapidly from simply joining in the conversation to sharing content to championing your brand. “That funnel is much more of a genuine organic influencer programme,” he says.

6) Look again at your budgets

Jones says that budgets are starting to shift with brands such as Nokia moving to such tactic,s enabling fan communities to move through to become true brand ambassadors and realising that lesser, but more targeted spend can lead to a better return on investment.

7) Track your influencers through audience analytics

In managing the process audience analytics is key, according to Jones. “You need to have visibility of who is connecting with you and how they are influencing their friends over time,” he says. “Once you are tracking the right things you can track what kinds of interactions you have that drive people through that funnel.”

8) Incentivise them but in a more subtle way

Of course influencers will still want some sort of reward for their time but Jones says this can still be done easily and cheaply. “Provide more of a structured programme where everyone can sign up to be friend of the brand, where they can get content first, have input on new products and get a chance to win ambassador competitions. We see a significant uplift in repeat engagement when you have a structured programme around social influencer outreach,” says Jones.

9) Keep it real and balance the value exchange

Jones warns brands to treat it more like a loyalty framework for their customers by keeping it valuable so people believe in what is being said. “It’s always a balancing act between the hard reality that for anyone to give up some of their time on social media for you rather than their friends there has to be some value – whether that’s fun, interactive experiences, closer access to the brand or surprise and delight rewards for advocates, you have to balance that value exchange,” he says.

10) Treat it like a long-term relationship, not a short-term fling

Most importantly such tactics move brands away from advocates that are just of the moment and therefore more limited fads to genuine, lifelong brand ambassadors – a much more powerful tactic. “You need to track the lifetime of interactions with you and understand the lifetime value of advocates,” he says.

Richard Jones @oldstriker will be chairing a panel discussing successful social influencer outreach as part of the Digital Marketing and PR breakout track at #SMWF North America next week

How the Marine Corps are using social media to connect, engage and recruit new Marines




With hundreds of Marine locations across the US and millions of prospective recruits we look at how the Marine Corps are using social media to connect, engage and recruit new marines. Raphael Hernandez, Chief Marketing Officer of United States Marine Corps Recruiting Command and Marshall Lauck, Chief Operating Officer of marketing communications agency JWT will be doing a joint presentation at #SMWF North America next week but we caught up with them ahead of the show to find out more.

How important is social media to the Marines?

LtCol Hernandez:
“Given that our audience for recruits is 17- to 29-year-olds, it is huge. Our social media footprint provides an unrivaled channel for engaging both our prospect and influencer audience. Facebook is a big force-multiplier for our recruiting efforts. Where else can we post a recruiting message certain that it will not only reach nearly 3.5 million people, but likely spark engagement with more than 20,000 of them? We also know that nearly half of our Facebook fans are in our prospect age group. That’s valuable. But equally valuable are all the veterans who follow our page, eager to help recruit the next generation of Marines. Across all our platforms we get a huge bump in engagement from Marines, both currently serving and those no longer in uniform. They are an invaluable tool for educating America’s youth about the value of serving their country.
Think about the fact that fewer and fewer prospects have a parent, relative or influencer who served in the military, let alone the Marines. So being able to harness our supporters and connect them with prospects is vital to our success.”

The Marines are the biggest Government brand on Facebook – how have you built that presence?

Marshall Lauck:
“Since 2006, when we stepped into MySpace (remember them), we have approached all of our marketing platforms with the same deliberate mindset; The Marine Corps conducts itself with the upmost of discipline, no matter what the environment. When it comes to the undisciplined world of social media there were challenges. But we have always made clear that our pages and accounts must rise to the same high standards, and people engaging with us must commit to that. You’d think that wouldn’t go over well, but surprisingly we’ve had very few problems. I think that’s the prestige of the brand shining through.”

How do you sustain that lead and interest?

Marshall Lauck:
“It helps when you have the quality and quantity of content that the Marine Corps has to offer. In terms of what we decide to share, we draw on what is called the Longer Marine Corps Story, the promise to Americans that the institution will make Marines, win our nation’s battles and develop quality citizens. In practical terms it means we have a wealth of compelling content that feeds the appetite of both our most eager prospects, but also the service-ethos of the millennial generation.
Each piece of content we share on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram is aligned with one of those chapters and intended for a very specific portion of our audience. We are intensely data-driven so we know when to post, what to expect and, more importantly, when it is time to adapt our programs.”

How do you scale your national efforts to the local level and what lessons can we learn from how you do that?

LtCol Hernandez:
“We have more than 3,700 recruiters out in the field talking with prospect-age young men and women. So we know firsthand how important social media has become in this group’s day-to-day environment. Our recruiters have to be well-versed on all the relevant tools. JWT has helped us keep on top of this with the establishment of local-level Facebook pages that can leverage national content. We’ve had JWT’s team conduct regular social media training with our recruiters and we’ve opened the door for our recruiters to share best practices back up the chain through a national-level social media work group.

If there are any key lessons it has to be this, social media, and mobile technology are constantly changing the landscape of how youth interact not only with each other, but also institutions. Staying on top of this requires that the organization recognize that critical insights can and will come from every level.”

How have you enabled a unified brand on social media and what are the biggest challenges you face in doing so?

LtCol Hernandez:
“This may be where the Marine Corps has a couple big advantages over most brands. First is the Longer Marine Corps Story that Marshall mentioned. The Marine Corps message is firmly rooted in our 238-year history and not variable based on market conditions or current trends. It also helps that every Marine is trained the same way. We all have been steeped in the history and heritage that comes with the title Marine. That’s a really big deal to us. So even though we have something like 50 local pages and countless local twitter handles, every Marine knows what’s expected of them and how much responsibility we put in their hands. That’s not to say we don’t make mistakes, but there too our training is critical. Adapt, improvise and overcome is much more than just a mantra for the battlefield.”

By using social in your recruitment campaign you have had great success but how have you done that – what were the key factors?

Marshall Lauck:
“The single biggest factor has to be a tight integration of our messaging strategy
. It doesn’t matter if you are looking at a TV commercial, a post on Instagram or a brochure at the recruiting sub-station, there is an unmistakable consistency in tone and message. That isn’t by chance. We have one team that works across platforms, off the same brief, leveraging the same pool of content. This is not an easy brand to jump into, so we also spend a lot of time training our team about what it means to work on the Marine Corps’ recruiting program. The people managing our communities know at a very visceral level the types of conversations that sustain the brand and those that have no place on our pages.
By the same token, our experience team spends a lot of time digging deep into every platform out there, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses, the audiences and the nature of the conversations. We want to know not only what to post, but what to expect, how it will advance a prospect from awareness to consideration and on to raising their hand to meet with a recruiter. We also realize that what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow, so our strategies have to be strong enough to adapt to changes in the marketplace. Speed is important, but that cannot come at the cost of strategic alignment.”

Raphael Hernandez, Chief Marketing Officer of United States Marine Corps Recruiting Command and Marshall Lauck, Chief Operating Officer of marketing communications agency JWT will be doing a joint presentation at #SMWF North America. There’s still time to book! We’ll see you there!

How much time do you spend online and on social media?

This is a great infographic from business intelligence platform Domo which makes the team here at #SMWF tired just looking at it! The amount of content being created, time being spent, and value of social media platforms and the internet truly is mind-blowing. What do you think of the below? How much time do you spend online and what on earth did we do before all this?