C. Wonder Exec Shares Tips For Social Success In Retail

Over the last few years, the social media space has evolved dramatically. Initially Facebook and Twitter were created to be outlets for friends and family to connect. Now they are top outlets for consumers to interact with their favorite brands, retailers and fellow shoppers.

With the emergence and continual rise of sites such as Instagram and Pinterest, retailers are refining their social strategies based on target customers and their unique wants and needs.

In the following Q&A, Michael Chao, Director of Social and Mobile Engagement for C. Wonder, shared his perspectives on current social media trends among retailers. Additionally, he discussed the development of the C. Wonder social strategy that has delivered optimized shopper engagement and increased sales.


Retail TouchPoints (RTP): How do you believe retailers currently are embracing and participating in social media?

Chao:  At a high level, we are seeing that retailers are embracing social in a more meaningful way.  Retailers are dedicating more time and resources to growing and engaging their social communities. And, among the retailers that have been in the social space for a longer period of time, we’re also seeing more experimenting. They’re testing new community engagement strategies, which is really exciting to see.

However, the one area I think retailers need to continue to evolve in is thinking of social in a broader sense. They can’t just have community managers creating posts. It has to be a two-way conversation.

RTP: How does social contribute to the C. Wonder business and cross-channel marketing strategies?

Chao: At C. Wonder, we think of social in the following ways, which enables us to really capture its full value:

  • Social media is a core component of our brand: We want our customers to connect with us in a deep and personal way.  Social channels are a powerful and efficient way for us to create that bond at scale.
  • We think of social media in very broad terms: For C. Wonder, social is not only a way for us to amplify brand awareness, but also a way to create delightful customer experiences, inform product design, and build excitement around new store launches.  The opportunities are limitless.
  • Social media is deeply embedded into the company culture: At C. Wonder, social media is not just a channel that operates in a silo, nor is it considered an afterthought. Social has a seat at the planning table and is embedded across all of the things we do, including our e-Commerce site.

RTP: What results have you seen since embedding social into the online shopping experience?

Chao: Our Live Feed on the e-Commerce site is a key part of our social strategy. We use this feature to spotlight the most socially shared and purchased products.

We see really strong engagement with this content. People spend a lot of time on it and actually clicking through to purchase. In fact, consumers who visit the feed are more than twice as likely to purchase than people who don’t visit the feed. This is a great example of how social integration can create fun and useful experiences for customers, as well as drive conversions and tangible results.

RTP: What is the top social media trend you think retailers should take note of?

Chao: Currently, the top trend we’re seeing is increased interaction between consumers and retailers on Instagram and Pinterest. We are finding that these platforms really enable retailers to tell a unique visual story, whether that be a unique perspective on a product or an insider’s perspective on the brand.

I can definitely see Instagram and Pinterest evolving from a functionality standpoint in the near future. While part of the beauty of those platforms is how focused and simple they are, there is opportunity to add functionality that enables people to do more on them.

RTP: How do Instagram and Pinterest play into C. Wonder’s strategies?

Chao: We’ve seen Pinterest drive some great organic sales for C. Wonder — it is actually our second highest social referral site.  Our products are really visually compelling and lend themselves quite well to the platform. While we aren’t able to track direct attribution to sales from Instagram, we find that posts that feature products do drive spikes in searches for that product on our e-Commerce site.

RTP: Are there any retailers you look to for social inspiration?

Chao: We actually look to other industries for inspiration. Many consumer packaged goods companies are doing some very progressive things in the social space. For example, Lay’s recent initiative “Do Us A Flavor” campaign, where they allowed consumers to vote to choose the next new chip flavor. The company’s social activation around the campaign was really fun and engaging. They wanted fans to be a part of the process, and wanted them to support specific flavor teams. The visual assets they created for the campaign also were very eye-catching and funny, which helped them cut through the clutter and stand out.  

RTP: Do you have any best practices or words of advice for retailers working to maximize their social efforts?

Chao: The key to having a strong social program is starting with the right strategic mindset. We consider the following to be key pillars of having an effective social strategy:

  • Focus, but stay flexible: We’ve identified which social platforms are most effective and focus most of our energy on them. However, we continue to test new and emerging platforms that fit our brand voice and enable us to reach our target customer. 

  • Create an interconnected social and digital ecosystem: While we develop a unique strategy for each of our social platforms, we strive to create a “connected” ecosystem where the social experience and our broader digital presence feel very integrated and consistent.

  • Make it personal: As our social communities grow, we still maintain a strong focus on engaging our followers on an ongoing basis. This helps us really strengthen our relationships. We want community members to feel a one-on-one connection with us, and we do that by responding individually to questions and comments.

  • Launch social programs throughout the year: We try to launch innovative social programs on an ongoing basis.  These programs, which are designed to create fun, valuable and inspiring experiences for customers, can help drive organic spikes in engagement and maximize brand exposure.  These programs can take many forms: from contests, to product and offer sneak previews.

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