Time to read: 7 minutes. Today, Abercrombie & Fitch announced flat Web and declining store sales. But they have well over 1,000,000 “followers and friends.” How can this be? And Moosejaw… they’re missing out on the ‘digital native social commerce’ action too. Here’s how to improve your social media marketing’s output. Read on and discover how to create tangible results with social media marketing.
I noticed that Moosejaw is inadvertently overstating the effectiveness of a Facebook and Twitter campaign and under-utilizing social media’s true prowess. Essentially, they asked customers to blast and re-blast gratuitous promotional messages about the brand. But what if Moosejaw created meaning for customers with social media? What if they prompted customers to do things that, in the end, gave them a more meaningful experience with their products?
A real life reason to take action — buy, encourage others to buy, download an outdoor-life related application that helped customers do what they already want to do in a faster, easier, more fun way? Or use Moosejaw products in creative, new ways?
With improving your social ROI in mind, I’ll critique Moosejaw’s limited approach and lay out an easy-to-implement path to improve results of social media marketing — using Moosejaw as an example.
Tip: Tie marketing goals to qualitative business outcomes
A quick read of MarketingSherpa’s case study on Moosejaw reveals a set of goals and tactics that create limited success for the brand and its customers — although MarketingSherpa unknowingly celebrates it. Sherpa’s write-up promises:
“See how a retailer created a product giveaway campaign that required social media users to engage on Facebook or re-tweet messages on Twitter to qualify for drawings. Not only did they significantly grow their social media followers, but for some products, sales increased 15%.”
Briefly, Moosejaw is a purveyor of outdoor gear and apparel aimed at the 20-30 something crowd — the “digital natives.” All the more reason for them to get moving on social media marketing. But therein lies a trap which I’m afraid Gary Wohlfeill and his team have fallen into.
Moosejaw’s expectation of this campaign is part of the problem. Goals include increasing quantities of things like Facebook Friends, Twitter Followers, “buzz and engagement.” This is a problem. Their marketing team was not held responsible for tangible business outcomes — qualitative results.
Tip: Measure correctly
Moosejaw claims sales increased as a direct result of the social campaigns. But the company did not measure incremental sales by accounting for buying activity that would have occurred anyway. In other words, they didn’t “subtract out” those naturally occurring sales from customers that would have purchased without the promotion. They did not invest in a “control group” that would have allowed them to measure the incremental effect.
A true 15% rise in sales as a result of holiday-season give-aways using social media is highly suspect given the holiday season is Moosejaw’s biggest. People were already primed to buy!
Tip: Create meaningful customer value, not discounts on stuff
But here’s where the story gets interesting. Moosejaw could have gone much further toward creating a profitable campaign had they focused on creating qualitative value.
The customer value Moosejaw created using Facebook and Twitter was not relevant nor meaningful to customers’ everyday lives. There was no payoff for customers/participants other than the chance to win stuff. This created limited results for Moosejaw.
Specifically, customers were asked to behave in ways that simply “blast” promotions across the Web (“virally”). They were asked to “friend” more on Facebook, comment more on blogs, share more, tweet more on Twitter. There was no emphasis or requirement on quality of what was being said.
In fact all Moosejaw asked people to do was spread the news of its promotion with “free stuff” as bait.
Moosejaw provided no qualitative outcome for customers/participants. They did not design the campaign to be relevant to customers’ everyday lives in a meaningful way.
Further, Moosejaw facilitated a negative brand experience. Participants began to mis-behave and “spam” friends with large quantities of commercial messages (about the promotion). Hardly a positive brand experience.
Tip: Create utility
But what if Moosejaw had planned to create meaning for customers using social media? What if they prompted customers to do things that, in the end, gave them a more meaningful experience with their products? A reason to take action — buy, encourage others to buy products or use Moosejaw products in new ways?
Rather than a give-away contest Moosejaw could have offered customers the opportunity to download an iPhone application or Mac/PC desktop widget custom-designed to improve the experience of using Moosejaw products.
As an example, a skiing/snowboarding tool that lets customers check slope conditions that they regularly romp. Or a desktop news reader that comes pre-programmed with customers’ preferences for news and entertainment. Think Bloglines, iGoogle, MyYahoo, MyMSN only for outdoor enthusiasts and customized to hiking, biking, snowboarding, camping or rock climbing.
Think along the lines of Adagio’s Tea Timer. Tools that both serve a pre-existing customer need and marketer’s need to understand customers’ preferences and momentary “state of need.”
Moosejaw marketing 2.0: A translator of customer needs
By becoming a trusted news source to customers Moosejaw could understand current customers’ preferences and gather highly qualified leads on new customers. They could do this from moment one and over time — study consumption patterns of media content among customers.
As an example they may notice that rock climbers actually spend most of their time reading about fly fishing — yielding actionable insights on those customers’ preferences and “need state” in terms of what customers actually NEED at the moment.
Moosejaw’s marketing team now become translators of evolving customer need — not just broadcasters of what customers should want or give-away deals.
Expect more: ‘conversation’ and ‘buzz’ isn’t enough
It’s a common belief that more mentions, more “conversation” about a company, the more valuable it is for them. But this goal is backward. This goal is relevant in a mass communication world that no longer serves our needs.
Today, there is less value in buzz, positive sentiment and conversation versus creating sales and leads.
“The engagement/conversation/relationship crowd are confused about cause and effect. You don’t sell someone something by engagement, conversation and relationship. You create engagement, conversation and relationships by selling them something.”
In the end, Wohlfeill and his team ran a sweepstakes promotion that gave away products during December. It was designed to use “social media channels to encourage the audience to connect with the brand there and share the information with friends.”
But notice: It wasn’t designed to sell or capture “need states” of potential customers. Selling seemed to just happen — although the rise in sales seems highly suspect given the holiday season. The tactics employed by Moosjaw’s marketing team were quantitative and mass-communications focused (ie. hoping for actions to be taken rather than prompting them).
And there was no control group. Measuring the impact of social media programs without use of control groups fails to consider “who would have purchased/acted anyway” (without the promotion). Results are skewed significantly — toward the promotion being effective.
I hope exploration of this social media marketing example helps you use digital media in ways that power your company. Because in the end we’re not in this to build Twitter and Facebook a business model!