For American Apparel — which has a core audience of Millennials and tweens — engaging, communicating and sharing information via social media is paramount to building relationships and fostering long-term loyalty.
Helping to create a direct link between the American Apparel brand and its loyalists, social media “is an essential platform to articulate brand awareness,” according to Patrick Riley, VP of IT at American Apparel. “New styles, company values, community relationships, events and collaborations are all supported by the social media structure.”
Over time, American Apparel has built a healthy presence across all social networks, acquiring 1.6 million likes on Facebook, 1.2 million Instagram followers and 517,000 followers on Twitter. The brand and retailer also has developed a significant fan base on Tumblr, with 342,000 followers, and Pinterest, which acquires 240,000 monthly viewers. Using these channels, the retailer focuses on building general awareness and desirability, and leverages social media sales and promotions to drive online sales.
To further blur the lines between social media and commerce, American Apparel is implementing Like2Buy from Curalate, which allows users to link through to products through Instagram. But the retailer is no stranger to social experimentation: Twitter spotlighted American Apparel for winning $50,000 in sales after promoting a flash sale on the network.
“Ultimately, the various ways and means of pushing sales through these platforms will only increase,” Riley said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Offering this type of instant gratification can create a certain expectation among users. However, offering these types of promotions to brand loyalists through social media ensures that the best offers reach those who are highly engaged with the brand.”
Putting A Local Spin On Social Engagement
Although incenting consumers with timely offers and deals is important, it also is imperative that social content remains relevant and tailored to specific audiences. American Apparel puts a local spin on social posts and campaigns to drive in-store traffic, Riley explained. For example, “on regionally specific and international accounts, we showcase the in-store experience through pictures of employees, regional points of interest, local customers and regional events.”
The retailer also has established an advocacy marketing strategy, which allows the retailer to onboard loyal fans to engage with customers.
“Social media is an ideal way to find brand advocates,” Riley said. “Through use of the hash tag #AAselfie we can turn any engaged user into a valuable brand advocate.”
Once advocates are identified, American Apparel onboards them to become brand representatives who are available to answer questions from online shoppers. Using the Needle platform, advocates are identified and certified, and then are able to communicate with customers quickly and easily to help boost e-Commerce conversions.
“Needle has had an enormous impact in driving revenue to our e-Commerce business,” Riley said. “Through the partnership, we have been able to engage in specific strategies with their data sources to optimize different goals we have set forth.”
As the social media space continues to grow and change, Riley anticipates that brands will strive to foster a relationship with consumers with genuine engagement. “Retailers will continue to seek new and convenient outlets for consumers while maintaining brand authenticity and voice.”