This is the official class blog of Journalism 4270/5330.001, the strategic social media class of the Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas. All content is student (or instructor) generated, and opinions are our own. Comments are welcome and encouraged.
Bow and Drape is a small online company that sells cheeky customizable clothing, accessories, home accents, and pet accessories. The brand is all about having fun, self expression and making a statement. They are a very social media savvy brand and have used it to promote and grow their business from the start. Customers are encouraged to share their purchases and have fun with each other and the brand through use of the brands hashtag.
(Bow and Drape Instagram page)
The brand announced that they will be starting two new social initiatives on Instagram to foster even more engagement and growth. The first is the Founder Series which will be featured on Instagram Live. The brand founder, Aubrie Pagano, talking about certain topics related to the brand as well as a question and answer component. Brands generally receive the most engagement when they request feedback and opinions from their customers. Utilizing Instagram Live offers even more of an opportunity for engagement by making viewers feel like they are a part of the brand.
The other initiative will be the conducting of sample sales through Instagram stories. The brand will post images to the story of items that are for sale this week and will be sold on a first come first serve basis. Customers will have the opportunity to engage with the brand, see behind the scenes footage, and allow customers access to exclusive discounted product.
(Screen shot of Instagram Story by Bow and Drape)
Bow and Drape relies heavily on user generated content and engagement to fuel their brand and build excitement around their products. By offering the Founder Series and the virtual sample sales they will be able to offer a more differentiated experience to their customer, as well as grow brand awareness and impact sales.
Social media has transformed the beauty industry as we know it. Platforms like Instagram and YouTube have turned makeup artists into internet sensations and inspire new cosmetic users to hone their skills.
People like viewing makeup tutorials and reviews on social media because it feels a lot like getting trusted advice from a friend. Hair and makeup enthusiasts can generate huge followings on social media, like 15-year-old, Alex DelloStritto. Alex recently posted a video, which went viral on Twitter, of herself in a panic after accidentally charging $733 to her mom’s credit card on Sephora.com. Although I was unable to find evidence of Sephora responding to the teen on Twitter, the retailer does have a reputation for high engagement and response on social media platforms.
According to Shareablee’s most recent Social Scorecard, Sephora ranks at the top of the list for engagement for big box retailers and department stores. This ranking is based on reactions, comments, shares, and retweets across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
That isn’t all Sephora is doing to advance its presence as a digital retailer. The cosmetic brand also partnered with CashStar, enabling them to send gift cards directly to customers via social media platforms. This streamlines the process of resolving customer complaints, because they no longer need to send gift cards through private channels like email.
Sephora has also enhanced the customer experience by implementing chatbots which can help customers schedule appointments and make purchase decisions. The messaging service has features like color matching that allow customers to take a photo and receive personalized skin tone and color recommendations. This feature is intended to help customers, both online and in store, through the use of mobile devices, creating an omni-channel experience. Sephora’s aggressive digital strategy is providing personalized service and winning over customers. (As if I needed an excuse to buy more lipstick.) Thanks Sephora!
Black Friday is traditionally the busiest selling day of the year. It’s the day that sets off the holiday shopping season, which is a vital time for retail stores. Though it may not seem like it for retail employees like myself, who wage war from the front lines every year on Black Friday, sales are down.
Photo: Associated Press File Photo
The period between Black Friday and Christmas is important for the economy because it accounts for 30 percent of annual retail sales. Since 2012, however, sales on Black Friday have steadily decreased. Though some attribute this shift in behavior to a relatively weak economy, it turns out people aren’t spending less, they just aren’t participating in the Black Friday in-store rushes like they used to.
The internet and mobile technology are quickly changing the way we shop. What was Cyber Monday has now become Black Friday Deals Week for retailers like Amazon and Best Buy, and any retailer savvy to the changing business trends are extending their sales through the entire weekend. So while people might not be coming into the stores as much early Friday morning, they are still spending quite a bit over the course of the week online shopping.
Mobile has perhaps contributed most to this shift to extended online shopping. This year saw a massive 33 percent increase in mobile Black Friday sales over 2015, with shoppers spending over $1 billion. As this trend continues, Black Friday deals will continue to expand throughout Thanksgiving week, allowing people to stay home after their Thanksgiving feasts and order their goodies online via smartphones.
Days away from one of the biggest consumer shopping days in America, retailers across the country announce their sales, promotions, and specials for Black Friday but one particular retailer caught my eye this year, Patagonia. This retailer announced that it would be donating 100 percent of their global Black Friday Sales online and in-stores to grassroots organizations that work in local communities to protect the air, water, and soil for the future of our planet.
Patagonia has been consistently demonstrating that caring for the planet is not in conflict for running a successful business (Patagonia, 2106). To this date, Patagonia has donated over $74 million to grassroots environmental organizations by giving away 1 percent of their sales daily. This year it seems as they took notes from REI’s “opt outside” successful campaign where they closed all stores and urged customers to spend their Black Friday outside enjoying what our beautiful planet has to offer. REI’s #optoutside campaign became a model for the future of Marketing because on the holiest day of retail it closed its doors and paid its employees to #optoutside. This move signaled a massive shift in the way companies do business and marketing. When brands operate with empathy and use it to fuel every decision, action, message, product, service, and experience, they are both more agile and more successful (Adage.com, 2015).
Patagonia’s announcement was not a surprise to many since in the past the brand has even urged its customers to buy fewer jackets to combat the fashion industry’s wasteful culture (Huffington Post, 2016). According to Patagonia’s Vice President of Environmental activism at Patagonia the company came up with the idea after the tumultuous election, she mentioned how it is a “difficult and divisive time for the country and believes the environments is something everyone can come together”.
Patagonia is expected to make over $2 million on Black Friday, and I hope that more brands take fashion or other types of retailers take notes from their playbooks at least once a year to make a difference in the environment.
Whether it’s pinning thigh slimming workouts and salted caramel cheesecake recipes simultaneously, or unapologetically saving wedding pins, despite the fact that I’m years away from getting engaged, Pinterest remains one of my favorite internet pastimes.
Since Pinterest was introduced six years ago, it has become more than a just place to find DIY dog Halloween costumes. It has developed into an effective tool for retailers and marketers. Brands can use Pinterest to retarget customers in a number of ways. This includes curating target audiences based on their Pinterest boards, building campaigns around user interaction with pins, and showing specific promotional pins based on item categories the user recently shopped for on the retail site.
The impact of this is immense when you consider the recent growth Pinterest has been experiencing. The site currently has 150 million monthly active users, up 50% from last year. This growth rate puts it in the running to compete with social media giants like Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest has also increased its global reach, reporting 75% of new users registering from outside of the United States. Although women still make up the majority of active Pinterest users, men are steadily migrating to the site and account for 40% of new registrations worldwide.
Pinterest is unique from other social media sites in that it is discovery based and used for planning rather than sharing life’s moments in real time. Research reported that 93% of Pinterest users use the site to plan future purchases. The site made it even easier for users to purchase items when it launched “buyable pins” in January of 2015. Pinterest is becoming very intuitive in connecting users to what they are looking for. In November of 2015 the site introduced its visual search tool enabling users to upload an image and find hundreds of similar items. Due to recent growth, some retailers are allocating more of their budgets to marketing on Pinterest. Considering that each month there are 2 Billion Pinterest searches from people looking to do or buy things, advertising on the site seems like a wise choice.
….And for anyone that is still thinking about the salted caramel cheesecake mentioned earlier in this post, click here for the recipe!
Beauty brands are marketed through various channels to grasp consumers. Social media is an online network that has taken the promotion of these brands by storm. Both major and smaller brands benefit from the ability to develop an online presence without a costly marketing budget. Platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat frequently introduce consumers to an array of beauty products.
The cosmetic industry’s target market is coincidently the largest demographic of social media users. This has enabled brands to be in continuous contact with their projected audience. Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, are the frontrunners for utilizing the latest methods in digital retailing. Neustar surveyed 1,020 purchasers to determine different shopping preferences between Millennials and Baby Boomers. The study also shows that 54% of Millennials consider their mobile device the most important shopping research tool, followed by 31% for desktop, 8% for television and 7% for print.
Often times consumers seek out reviews of beauty products before deciding whether to purchase them, this is where implementing the world’s second largest search engine and social media platform, YouTube, is essential. YouTube is known as the go-to for beauty tips, tricks and tutorials; it is has made learning about makeup more inclusive. Brands are able to gain exposure by offering beauty gurus and influencers incentives in exchange for product reviews. According to a 2015 report conducted by Pixability, there are 45.3 billion total beauty video views on YouTube. Fifty-five percent of those views come from mobile devices, which closely correlates to the percentage of Millennials that mainly use their mobile device as a retail research tool.
Social media has influenced and encouraged diversity by giving women with darker complexions an outlet to showcase and promote their beauty. These women have been notoriously ignored by the cosmetic industry. Major companies have been criticized for featuring one to only a few deep shades, while offering a range of fair-toned shades. It’s not like the demand for deep toned makeup products is nonexistent, with African American spending $7.5 billion on cosmetic products annually.
Some companies have noted the complaints and made strides to incorporate product diversity, which has earned them rave reviews. Examples of this are L’Oréal Paris’ latest campaign and Colourpop Cosmetics, which grew in popularity because it uploads makeup swatches on different skin tones. Online networking gives women of color a platform to voice frustrations, as well as share beauty tips that would otherwise be inaccessible due to a lack of mainstream diversity.