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Social means so much more than a Facebook page or a Tweet these days. Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest — to name a few — are making their mark on the retail marketplace. But are they short-term trends or do they have the staying power to become long-term solutions? What are the best approaches for retailers? What does the future hold? These and other key questions are asked and answered in this section.

Building Long-Term Customer Relationships With Social Engagement

By following their favorite brands and retailers on social networks, consumers can gain access to an insider’s view of companies and products as well as a first look at new releases, offers, contests and giveaways. Today’s retail environment has entered a “new social norm,” with more people using social networks on a daily basis, according to Nielsen in a recent report. The Digital Consumerreport concluded that 64% of social media users tap into sites at least once a day on their computers. Approximately half (47%) of social media subscribers use their smartphones to access social networks.

OverstockArt.com Boosts Traffic From Pinterest By 1,000% With Mother’s Day Contest

Prominent consumer spending holidays such as Mother’s Day are prime selling periods for retailers. In fact, consumers spent nearly $21 billion on Mother’s Day in 2013, according to the Prosper Insights & Analytics Monthly Survey.OverstockArt.com, an online-only distributor of wall art, tapped the holiday to generate buzz and social shares via its Mother’s Day Favorite Pinterest contest. Over the campaign’s duration from April 15 to May 15, the eTailer gained more than 700 new Pinterest followers and saw traffic from the social network increase 1,000%.

Connecting Social Media And The Store

Retailers are investing more time and money in their social media strategies. As many as 66% of retailers said they have a social strategy in place in 2014, versus 60% in 2013, according to Retail TouchPoints research. When used effectively, social media can help retailers generate buzz and even boost both online and in-store traffic. But retail executives, analysts and experts continue to debate social media’s impact on bottom-line results.

Social Influences 8% Of Online Sales

For years, retail executives have debated the business impact of social media. Although Facebook, Twitter and other sites are valuable engagement channels, it has been relatively unclear whether social networks generate sales. But new research from Experian Marketing Services indicates that social media sites account for nearly 8% of all traffic to retail web sites. As a result, more merchants are promoting their presence across these sites, and encouraging consumers to follow and interact with their brands.

Design Within Reach Drives Nearly 1 Million Social Impressions With Curalate

Social networks have become thriving communities for like-minded individuals to share their thoughts and opinions. Using social syndication and curation solutions, retailers can recreate these highly interactive groups on their e-Commerce sites, generating more interest and engagement around the brand and its products. Design Within Reach (DWR) took a more unique approach to social media and user-generated content. Rather than having consumers simply snap photos of their purchases and share them on Instagram or Facebook, DWR encouraged fans to enter the “Champagne Chair Contest,” asking them to create and upload a photo of their own miniature chair, using only the foil, label, cage and cork from a maximum of two champagne bottles. Using the Fanreel solution from Curalate, DWR created a custom landing page on its web site, providing a seamless way for fans to submit photos for the contest via Instagram, desktop or mobile phone. The retailer was then able to moderate and display photos on a custom gallery on the landing page.

Why Fashion Month 2014 Marked A Shift In Luxury Marketing

The madness surrounding Fashion Month 2014 has calmed. But that doesn’t mean fashion pundits and marketing gurus have stopped chatting about the new wave of marketing sparked by this year’s festivities. New York Fashion Week (NYFW) especially generated buzz because the event showed a more personal and intimate side, thanks to the powers of social media and mobility. More designers, fashion editors and bloggers were turning to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to take “selfies,” photos and videos of live runway shows. As a result, everyday consumers had VIP access to what was once considered one of the most exclusive events of the year. Social media has changed the ways consumers relate to fashion and has made the luxury space more accessible than ever, according to Apu Gupta, CEO of Curalate. NYFW is testament to the fact that “you can still build a high fashion brand and still make it approachable. We want to know more about these brands other than the carefully manicured personas they put out there. There’s a desire to really see behind the scenes and see the brands' larger personalities. It’s almost the humanization of luxury brands.”

Sephora Unveils New Social Shopping Experience

Omnichannel beauty retailer Sephora has been commended for its focus on creating highly social and compelling experiences online. Building on the success of its Beauty Talk platform — which enables shoppers to ask each other questions about cosmetics and other beauty products — Sephora has unveiled a new social shopping…
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Optimove Integrates With Facebook To Create Custom Audience Campaigns

Optimove, a multichannel campaign solution provider, announced that it will integrate with Facebook Custom Audiences (FCAs) during the eTail West 2014 conference in San Antonio, Tex. The company’s platform already incorporates email, text messaging, push notifications, on-site banners and call centers. FCAs enable advertisers to target their Facebook ads and…
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Trend Watch: Will Twitter Commerce Be The ‘Next Big Thing’ In Retail?

There has been mass speculation regarding Twitter’s apparent foray into commerce spearheaded by images of a rumored Twitter Commerce service posted on curated consumer goods catalog Fancy.com. It is unknown whether the screenshots — initially discovered by Re/code — were a mockup, prototype or accurate preview of what the service will look like. The screenshots outlined how the alleged Twitter Commerce service would work by integrating with a user’s Twitter account. Tweets published on the user’s Home or Discover feed will include a “Twitter Commerce” label, a description of the product being marketed and its price. Once the tweet was clicked, consumers would see an image of the product and a checkout button. If users clicked the button, they would be directed to a screen where they could enter their credit card information and billing address for delivery.

The Gold Medal Winner Is: Negative Publicity

Malfunctioning technology, brown water, poisoned dogs and sub-par hotels got more attention during the 2014 Winter Olympics than figure skating, downhill skiing, ice hockey and snowboarding. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to most people. We love to dish on negative news, and social media has allowed us to spread the cheer instantaneously. Case in point: the parody Twitter account @SochiProblems — created to document the difficult living situations in the Sochi Olympic Village — had 70,000 more followers than the official @Sochi2014 Olympic Twitter account. Lesson learned? Businesses can turn rotten water into a golden river by tapping into the attraction of controversy and negativity. Many forward-thinking retailers already are ahead of the game when it comes to addressing bad reviews or complaints head-on, rather than head-in-the-sand. “It’s important for business owners to join the conversation with their customers by responding — diplomatically of course — to their reviews,” said Darnell Holloway, Senior Manager of Local Business Outreach at Yelp, in a Q&A with Retail TouchPoints.
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