By Michelle Pucci
Social media is like a dinner party, says Sedge Beswick, ASOS.com’s social media manager. You want to create an inclusive environment where everyone feels comfortable and welcome—because no one wants to sit next the obnoxious person that talks your ear off. The golden rule: don’t spam or scam people.
People don’t want to be spoken at anymore; they want to be part of the conversation, and that takes a conscious effort.
Events on social media targeted at businesses took place during the first half of Internet Week in Aarhus and people of all stripes attended events like “10 tips for social media for B2Bs”, and the “Fashion Go Social!” conference Wednesday evening.
Brands like Vero Moda are actively using Facebook to encourage shopping and push new styles. The company is one of Denmark’s fashion wunderkinds, operating in 30-something countries with over 2 million Facebook fans. The company uses Facebook as an omni-channel, which in normal speak is something like a social media crossroads. Businesses trying to promote their brand need to make sure customers have a smooth and continuous experience online. Vero Moda does this by linking its various platforms through Facebook, something like a launch pad.
The Jutland-based retailer is also live on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube—each with their own specific function. Their Instagram feed is filled with photos about inspiration for their designs, Pinterest allows photos of a new collection to stand beside inspiration shots, and Twitter is primarily used for promoting online shopping and providing customer service. “It’s all about being connected with the consumer where they are at the right point in time,” says Vero Moda’s Marketing Manager Thomas Bay.
ASOS, an online fashion seller, uses Twitter as the basis for its social media turnout. The lifespan of a post on Twitter is 15 minutes, says Beswick via Skype at the “Fashion Go Social!” conference, and the company uses that to their advantage by tweeting all the material they have posted across the 25 (yes, 25) social media platforms they’re active on. ASOS also launches interactive Twitter games, which are sort of the same as live chats or question and answer sessions on Twitter only ASOS customers are asked to participate in challenges by posting photos or requests. Their latest campaign/challenge was a digital version of pass the parcel or hot potato, which had many users tweeting about the brand for several hours.
According to these social media experts, creating personal and positive experiences comes with creating personal and human ones. “If someone comes in ranting and raving their dress didn’t turn up for their 21st birthday, it’s not about going in with ‘we’re really sorry, we’ll see what we can do about it,’” says Beswick “It’s about creating that meaningful reason for them to love your brand. Go in with ‘Happy birthday, hope you’re having a great day. We’re super happy you chose ASOS—now, let me help you with your query.’”
People waste hours scrolling through Facebook, and brands need to create a positive experience in order to have buyers waste time on their pages. Customers also know that they have the power to broadcast their opinions via social media. An unhappy customer in a store can damage the store’s reputation, but a social media gaffe can damage a brand’s reputation. “Everything you do, both pro-active and reactive, has become a lot more transparent, and that’s something brands have to be super mindful of,” says Beswick.
While it’s important to have at least one person on your team that knows the ins and outs of social media, being successful online is really a team effort. Bay, for example, says Vero Moda’s employees use platforms like Instagram to interact with customers and create a personal experience. “It’s very difficult to make your colleagues participate in creating content,” says Jesper Stubkær, communication coordinator at the Risskov-based IT company Bleau. “In many cases it’s a one-man operation, so one man has to speak for the entire company.”
But the most important thing is to produce thoughtful content. “I still think that content is king, and if you produce the right content, then people will like it,” says Bay. “If you focus on creating interesting things for consumers, then fans will like it, and if you put bad content you know it right away.”
Being active on social media can also benefit companies that aren’t part of the fashion industry, or even selling to everyday consumers. At “10 tips for social media for B2Bs”, Uffe Lyngaae, a PR consultant for Publico, believes companies that mainly exchange with other businesses can benefit the most from effective social media. This category of business includes companies like Troldtekt, a Danish supplier of acoustic panels for ceilings. The company doesn’t sell its products directly to the public, but supplies firms or large construction companies.
Lyngaae, who works as a PR consultant for the firm says the company has continued to expand it exports and stock market presence despite a crisis in the construction sector. Troldtekt is also successful at winning over architects, who recommend their products to stores and clients, because of a successful annual contest and campaign for hundreds of future architects around the world. “They actually have a pretty good reach for a small piece of content and they succeed in positioning themselves as a leader in acoustics,” he says.
Business to business (B2B) companies are dependent upon relations with customers, employees, stakeholders, politicians, journalists, shareholders that are stable over a long period of time. “It’s about relationships and building upon relationships and that is why B2B companies ought to engage in social media,” says Lyngaae. We are entering a new era for business models, in which dialogue is encouraged between employees and between suppliers and clients. Building strong relations is more important for B2B companies, because there is a lot more at stake: larger transactions, smaller clientele and larger costs.
“Maybe it’s not on Facebook or Instagram that B2B companies ought to be on,” says Lyngaae, listing platforms particularly interesting for a company’s internal affairs. LinkedIn is a top site for professionals seeking other professional contacts, but other collaboration and communication platforms like Podio, Yammer, or Trello helps businesses maximize input and insight from staff and partners. Lyngaae points to a report by the global management consultant group McKinsey & Company. They found that companies could gain 25 to 35 percent in productivity just by improving communication between employees. This holds particularly true for businesses with many knowledge-based positions; such as workers in marketing, research, and product development.
For companies based on expertise and knowledge, which are most likely to be based in North America or Europe, proper use of social media can also ensure that businesses reach an international audience without getting lost in the Internet. Cath Mesh works as a communication consultant in Aarhus for suppliers within Denmark’s food industry, like companies that produce preservatives for processed foods. “A lot of the companies I work with are very reluctant with social media,” she says. “I think they also have a hard time seeing how they’re going to use it.” The subsidiaries she works for use mainly LinkedIn to contact stakeholders, and have very small marketing teams. “A lot of companies haven’t gotten around to allocating enough resources to these activities,” Mesh says.
Social media may be yet to take off for specialist B2B firms. But for retailers, more interaction with customers means more chances to stand out in an era of online shopping or “research” (aka pre-shopping). “When you look at the way customers are doing their shopping today, the pre-shopping is becoming bigger online and social media is also a big part of that,” says Bay.
Ultimately, when it comes to retail, brands like Vero Moda suggest that Danish companies are staying ahead of the curve.
Jutland Station is an official media partner of Internet Week Denmark, and will be covering the event in English. Look out for pictures, interviews and features, every day of the week on Twitter @JutlandStation.
On Friday our coverage of Internet Week Denmark and SPOT Festival will combine – bringing you to key business lessons from the SPOT Interactive Conference.
Michelle Pucci is an undergraduate journalism student from Montreal, Canada, currently living and studying journalism abroad in Denmark.