Magazine article Marketing

The Social Monitor: Brands Look for Love in Tough Times

Magazine article Marketing

The Social Monitor: Brands Look for Love in Tough Times

Article excerpt

Social media makes it easier for brands to capitalise on one-off events like Valentine's Day.

The latest Social Monitor examines which brands are in the mood for love and which could be left on the shelf this year.

Valentine's Day may occur only once a year, but it has been estimated by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) to be worth more than pounds 1.3bn at retail.

The battering that the high street has received of late means this is not an opportunity that retailers can afford to miss. However, with such a tight window, it is hard to focus communications on what is essentially a niche event, albeit a lucrative one.

Social media has allowed brands to create the sort of one-to-one relationship with customers that marketers have always hankered after With the tools at their disposal, implanting tactical activity is a cost-effective possibility.

The average Valentine's purchaser spends pounds 95.80, according to the BRC, with men spending slightly more than women. The most popular items are jewellery, flowers, clothes, lingerie, novelty items and cards.

While Valentine's Day can provide a useful boost to post-Christmas trading for some companies, for others, it is a key business period. To find out whether brands are making best use of social media, social specialist Yomego analysed the activities of a carefully selected group of brands associated with Valentine's Day.

Ann Summers came top of the brands in the Social Media Reputation (SMR) index, with an overall score of 62.51. It is an active user of social media and has timed its seasonal activity to perfection. In November, the brand ran its first TV ad, 'Sexy uncovered', as part of a campaign to find a 'real woman' to be the new face of the brand.

Understandably, this generated a lot of interest both onand offline, which fed through to the announcement of the winner, Lucy Moore. She has subsequently featured in brand communications in the run-up to the big day itself.

Becki Rowe, general manager, marketing, at Ann Summers, said: 'We used social media alongside our launch platform, Sexyuncovered.com, to engage with our audience for the initial campaign when looking for aspiring models to front our Valentine's campaign. With more than 240,000 fans on Facebook, we saw huge levels of engagement and an increase in traffic.'

However, engagement is not without its potential problems. As well as generating a lot of Twitter traffic, which equates to 68% of the social share of voice, the Facebook site attracted negative comment about the campaign.

'While social media is a huge asset to our brand, it is also high-risk,' admitted Rowe. 'We like to respond to our customers. We don't sit back and watch conversation unfurl.'

Another brand that is using social media to make a splash with its first TV commercial is Not on the High Street (NOTHS). The gifts website offers personalised products by 1600 craft suppliers.

It launched its TV campaign with the tagline 'Say it your own way' in early January, and has been flagging it up in relation to Valentine's Day.

Sarah Wilson, the company's head of brand, said Valentine's Day is a great opportunity to promote. 'Gifts that are personal mean so much more. Our products allow customers to capture something special about their relationship - from the place they first met to whose side of the bed is whose.'

NOTHS uses social media to engage with customers, and highlights some of the 35,000 products it has available. It also uses social to continue the dialogue with customers, helping them find what they want and soliciting feedback and opinions. The seller community is a big user of forums.

'They share advice and feedback but they also engage with our customer communities, meaning they get to hear what customers really want and can answer questions directly,' said Wilson.

Although its social reach is relatively low, satisfaction is high, which helped to pull up the brand's overall social ranking to 38. …

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