True Religion exec: There are more questions than answers in social
March 5, 2014
True Religion's mobile site
SAN ANTONIO, TX — A True Religion Jeans executive at eTail West said that social and mobile are still in their early stages with more questions than answers, but brands nonetheless need to invest in the channels.
During the “Steps to Enterprise Social: Avoiding Social Ineptitude” session, the executive discussed how brands should approach social in order to best engage in conversation with consumers. With a plethora of social platforms available to consumers, it can be difficult for marketers to keep up.
“The reality is social is overwhelming all of us,” said Gary Penn, director of global ecommerce at True Religion Jeans, Vernon, CA. “There’s nobody in the room that thinks they have social down.
“The most important takeaway is to ask, listen and repeat,” he said. “Ask yourself whatever question comes up, maybe it’s what do my customers want, what are they listening to.
“Listen to what the answer is. And then repeat that process because learning never stops.”
When it comes to social, it is all about being prepared in the moment, especially with most consumers accessing social media 24/7 on their mobile devices.
Mr. Penn pointed to one example of a brand that successfully dealt with a real-time fail on social.
Back in 2011, The American Red Cross accidentally tweeted to the wrong account, Dogfish Beer. The company was smart, though, and quickly deleted the tweet and tweeted, “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober, and we’ve confiscated the keys.”
This was a clever way to poke fun at themselves while still engaging consumers, and it actually led to more donations and traffic.
Mr. Penn pointed to a True Religion example of a consumer posting a question on the brand’s Facebook channel in a foreign language. The question was about sales, and the brand responded to the question to make sure that this consumer felt like his question was heard, while at the same time having an indirect effect on conversions.
Another example Mr. Penn brought up was a random consumer tweeting “The only thing religious about me is my jeans… #denim @TrueReligion @ingodwetrust #chocolategod.” This kind of promotion was not paid for and could reach this consumer’s followers in a natural way that True Religion could not have accomplished on its own.
Another way that brands can engage with consumers on social media is by empowering its employees and store associates. Brands can let them tweet and post to their own followers to reach more consumers.
“Think about this, you have 100 stores, you have 20 employees at each store, you have 2000 people out there,” Mr. Penn said. “You pick five to build a brand ambassador program, an advocacy program.
“You pick the top two of those five to create video and content, because they’re that connected,” he said. “The engagement that these people have is through the roof and you need to use it.”
Where to be
One of the biggest questions with social media is where brands need to be. There is Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, YouTube, and the list goes on.
Mr. Penn advises that brands ask themselves where they really need to be and get a better grasp of the different channels.
Some brands are even creating their own platforms for communication. Petco, for instance, created its own pet forum using a lithium tool.
Mr. Penn also emphasized the importance of integrating Q&A and reviews into a brand’s own site.
“There’s a little bit of doubt in the market,” Mr. Penn said. “I am a skeptic when it comes to Q&A, I was positive, before we put Q&A on our Web site, that Q&A would be okay but not great.
“Your advocates love to talk about your stuff,” he said. “That doesn’t mean they want to use a like tool or share on their wall, but if someone is passionate about a product they want to provide a review about it. Social on domain is super valuable.
“You need to talk back to them. You can’t just listen to them and respond when there’s a problem. You need to be proactive. You’re engaging in a local community.”
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York
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