SMWNYC: Driving Your Social Strategy for Online Retail and Brand Communities

On The Panel

  • Veronika Sonsev, CEO & Founder, inSparq Inc.
  • Mark Curtis, CEO & Founder, Branderati
  • Zoe Neuschatz, Director of Brand Strategy & Partnerships, Olapic
  • Mauricio Rubio, Director of Business Development,
  • Andrea Daney, Director of Digital Marketing, Lolly Wolly Doodle

This panel of judges put a spin on the way we think of social media in the retail and brand space. Rather than taking content from your site, putting it up on social sites and engaging with your audience there, they put an emphasis on integrating the social aspect into a company’s site and allowing conversations to live in that space. While this is not something new to the industry, by any means, it was a refreshing viewpoint on the priority of a brand’s social strategy. Below are some really great takeaways and ideas for using social as a platform to create lift in revenue and sales:

Reaching Out to Early Adopters

Something that’s inspired me throughout my attendance of Social Media Week, is the unique and inspired ways that these agencies and companies have used to reach their customer base. “Know your audience” is part of commonly used lingo in marketing, but taking the understanding and utilizing it to create results, can often be the hardest step.

Razor USA

From a previous panel, “Creating an Adaptive Brand Strategy,” Razor USA capitalized on the enthusiasm of early adopters and played off the viral video of Ken Block driving a Gymkhana 2. Dubbed “Ken Box: Crazy Cart Gymkhana!,” Razor’s video had minimal brand placement and featured the crazy cart covered by a cardboard frame of the Gymkhana car driving around a warehouse. Fun and low budget, Razor used drifter and car enthusiasts as a springboard for the campaign. They reached out to active forum members and asked them to share the video. The video went viral and to date has more than 1.8 million views. This attracted the attention of mainstream media and the video did the rounds – it was featured on some major talk shows and print magazines.

Pre-releasing content through social

Branderati also spoke on strategy regarding early adopters. They encouraged using brand and product enthusiasts with high social influence to track ROI. By creating a shop and share product page not accessible through the navigation, specific to each brand enthusiast, or “taste makers” (as Mark Curtis, Branderati CEO, called them), they were able to track conversions on the products and where they came from—which brand enthusiasts were more effective in getting the message out there. They gave them 48 hours advanced access prior to releasing the product to the general public and gamified the process by offering rewards to taste makers who brought in the most revenue.  The result was a purely social driven ROI in the first 48 hours. Encouraging social shares through advocates by offering coupons through shares. Items coming up in feeds (through shares) have 2 times the number of conversions.

Get the Customer to Create

Lay’s “Do Us A Flavor™” campaign is a perfect example of how a company can engage with its customers and have them create their own flavor. Having customers create content and become an advocate of their own work while preaching the brand at the same time is a great way to create buzz and chatter around a brand.

Mine Your Customer Base

Don’t forget there are always customers who haven’t interacted with you through social, some of which may be your biggest customers. Whether they’re not active on social or they just don’t follow your brand’s page or twitter handle.

Incorporate Social into Your Emails

A lot of brands are having trouble justifying social media spend when they’re seeing less conversions from that channel than search or paid. Social has been touted as more of a venue through which to make your brand live and those investing money in social, put more of an emphasis on branding than pushing conversions. Although social may not be resulting in high conversion rates, one of the panelists talked about how, by including a weekly “popular in social” email in their digital marketing plan, they were able to utilize social in a way that converted. Emails containing popular social pics from Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest lead to high conversion rates and the transactions from these emails were counted as social conversions rather than direct marketing conversions.

Social Integration on Your Brand Site

According to Zoe Neuschatz, director of brand strategy at Olapic, their clients saw a 7% lift in conversions when social was integrated into the site, as well as an increase in average order sales. While they encourage their clients to integrate social into every aspect of their site, they did find that the most crucial place to integrate social into the site, is at the point of purchase. They found that by including customer photos on the product details page, customers were 2-3 times more likely to buy the product.



Coach has adopted a Pinterest-like front page format, which features photos of products fitting together like puzzle pieces. Both aesthetically pleasing to the eye and familiar to social media users, it’s an easy way for customers to quickly scan new styles and click straight to a shoe style.

Coach Home Page Layout

The box linking surrounded by the Spring 2014 collection photos, leads to #coachfromabove which includes a gallery and map that pulls customer pics from Twitter, Instagram or the site itself with location data.

Coach From Above - Social Integration

Coach also has a spotlight section that includes who’s talking about coach & who’s wearing it— it features stars wearing coach and news outlets featuring coach products. Throughout the site, they make it as easy and seemless as possible for customers to share their products on social media sites. There are “Pin It” buttons on every photo and Like and Tweet icons on every product page.

West Elm

The West Elm website has its own section tagged #mywestelm where you can view and upload photos from the community.


ShoeMint probably has my favorite integration of social media. Not only is each product equipped with a “Pin It” button, but each product page pulls customer examples from Instagram, along with customer reviews on style and fit. I’m not going to lie—this one has pulled me in (more than once) and it doesn’t hurt that their users are extremely involved and active on their site. Seeing how other people are wearing the shoe style is influential in customer’s purchasing decision.

ShoeMint Product Details PageShoeMint Social Integration

Overall, I think the real takeaway from the session is that you’re really trying to move the discussion from social sites, to your own brand’s page. Integrating is just the first step. Once you’re able to engage customers, you can actually begin to spot trends and use customer engagement to up sale or cross sale based on pics posted by clients and previous purchases.

Find out what we can do for your bottom line.

Our flexible solutions will help you meet (and exceed) your business goals.

Let's Talk