Ecommerce Expertise / Ecommerce Marketing / How To Sell Online

How ModCloth, Converse and Nike Leverage Social to Cultivate Engaged and Loyal Customers

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Social media can be a tricky place to navigate for ecommerce brands. There is no secret formula for how often you should post links to guide customers down a conversion funnel or for how many re-grams you should do in a week to see any social lift from Instagram.

However, as Facebook changes up their feed algorithm and Twitter discusses their new “while you were gone” feature, creating opportunities for interaction and establishing a personality is more important than ever. So take notes, because there is a lot to learn.

ModCloth: How to Fight for a Cause Customers Can Back

Creating a brand personality is vital for companies in today’s competitive social atmosphere. Often, it seems as though a brand’s only options are to differentiate or die.

ModCloth, an online fashion brand aimed at selling indie, vintage and retro-inspired apparel, distanced themselves from the pack in a way that appeals to the masses. The company earned consumer love for taking a stand against body shape and size discrimination, an issue that has been plaguing the fashion industry for decades. ModCloth, like an array of other fashion and beauty brands including Aerie and Dove, began running ads and using models with body shapes and sizes outside of the modeling industry norm –– i.e. larger than a size 2.

The company’s focus was on keeping their product photos and ads stylish and real, and this strategy is present not only on their site, but in their social channels as well. On social, ModCloth uses their products to showcase the company’s personality and viewpoint –– or, as I like to call it, producality.

ModCloth’s Instagram, for instance, showcases their products in a way that encourages purchases. The company’s social team features some of the brand’s favorite fashionistas, influencers and customers by re-gramming follower photos. Their feed is colorful, bright and stylish, reinforcing the overall brand feel, experience and personality. Their Twitter feed follows a similar strategy, but with more of a focus on lifestyle, offering recipes, styling tips and interesting reads. On Facebook, the company focuses more on the sales side of things, offering coupons and links to new products as they come in.

Ecommerce-ModCloth

NYE brunch is a spectacular time to break out the metallics, right? Well done, @melissacripe!

So, what can your brand learn?

Focusing and defining who your brand is can make or break your company. Create a persona to go with your brand, one that truly encapsulates your mission. Post photos that showcase your personality, curate articles of interest and engage with customers. When your retail presence is solely ecommerce, you need to show how customers can interact with products. Give them a reason to buy despite them not being able to physically try your products out first.

Converse: How to Curate Your Way to Loyalty

Converse has deep American roots. What started as “the sneaker” for basketball in the 70s, pivoted into a rock-and-roll symbol a decade later. To this day, Converse still touts their rock-and-roll persona and through it they have turned into a patron to bands and musicians alike.

Ecommerce-Converse
Converse’s Twitter account is full of Youtube clips for bands the brand endorses, artsy short videos and skater-chic style. Their Instagram is part product, part mosh pit and part graffiti. In fact, the brand posts more photos of beat up sneakers than any of their newer, just produced products. Doing so helps to convey Converse’s stance, in which the brand sees itself as part of their customers’ lifestyle, rather than as an ecommerce company. Facebook is Converse’s content distribution machine, on which they post product videos, music clips and photos from concerts. Currently, the brand is on a world-wide music tour titled Rubber Tracks Live with some of Converse’s brand-endorsed artists. Indeed, Converse has established itself as a curator of a street cool lifestyle in much the same way as Red Bull has become the lifestyle curator for action sports.

So, what can your brand learn?

Find causes or artistic outlets that coincide with your customers’ lifestyles. Customers likely do not buy your product as a standalone piece. Your product(s) is used as part of an overall lifestyle approach, and your brand should speak to and support that lifestyle as often as possible.

When your product and content align, it creates incredible value for your brand. Creating quality content through multiple channels rather than your normal routine (i.e. just product pages) can create lasting impressions on the consumer. This can range anywhere from promoting local events to creating a line of products in conjunction with a charity. Find what your brand cares about and become a patron.

Nike: How to Divide and Conquer Niche Audiences

Nike is a universal brand that needs no introduction. Covering vast territories of the sportswear genre, the brand has become the king of content. Nike cranks out tips, exercise plans and helpful apps like no one’s business. The brand’s key to social success partly lies in their strategic “divide and conquer” method.

They have Nike-branded Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for every audience segment or persona you can think of including women, men, running, basketball, football, snowboarding, tennis, futbol, baseball and more. The company also has social accounts devoted solely to specific product lines including their Air Force 1 sneakers or Hypervenom Cleats –– each of which have more than 2 million followers, by the way.

Nike is utilizing each of these accounts as a distribution platform for their content. The brand can produce highly targeted content pieces and then ensure that those pieces get into the feeds of those niche audiences.

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So, what can your brand learn?

If you have multiple strong product categories, then it is definitely in your best interest to devote social time to each of them. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean creating specific pages for each one. On a smaller scale, it is beneficial to create hashtags to match the different areas of your site allowing customers to tag products bought or address more specific questions toward the correct department. Don’t be afraid to create unique content for different aspects of your company, either. Although you may not have 30 different Facebook pages to promote it on, you can still utilize differing targeting metrics and tags on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to reach the appropriate niche audience.

Moosejaw Mountaineering: How Humor and Honesty Drive Conversions

Social media is one of the most informal and yet effective marketing channels for brands today. At Moosejaw Mountaineering, the company has taken their social accounts to the extreme in the best way possible.

Moosejaw Mountaineering operates an ecommerce site for outdoor gear along with 10 brick and mortar stores throughout the U.S. The company is known for its witty banter and cult-like following, and the brand operates two differing twitter accounts: one for the business itself and the other for its office dog. Most of the time, Moosejaw Mountaineering’s tweets don’t have anything to do with outdoor gear. Instead, they have created an engaging brand persona around a company mascot.

Moosejaw’s Instagram account is essentially a collection of fan and employee photos, with customers lovingly showing off their Moosejaw merchandise, and employee’s posting office musings and behind-the-scenes fun.

But the real fun is happening over on the brand’s Facebook page. Every week, Moosejaw updates their cover photo to one submitted by fans. They refer to this as the “cute-sy pic of the week” and it seems to follow this logic: the more risqué, the better. To ensure engagement, the company will post both serious and silly questions, offering reward points to the customer answering with best idea.

BONUS: Moosejaw’s emails are some of the best in the industry. They are hilarious and engaging with undoubtedly high click thru rates.

Ecommerce-Moosejaw

So, what can your brand learn?

Switch things up once in a while. Respect your brand and customers, but have fun. People love to get behind-the-scenes glimpses at a company culture, and social media is a great way to allow your customers that insider’s worldview. Keeping things on the lighter side and gearing customers toward interaction and engagement also means your pages will have a better chance of surviving as Facebook cracks down on posts that sound too salesy.

Although it may seem like a lot of work, using social media for your online store is an important aspect of business. Learn from some of the best in the business on how to stay visible with engaging social strategies that cultivate engaged audiences and loyal customers.

Photo: Flickr, Jason Howie

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  • Stacey Ann Senter

    Flawless article.

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