- Macy's this month is expanding its Macy's Style Crew, a brand ambassador program and social selling initiative open only to employees of the department store. After limited testing, all store and corporate staff across the country are now invited to apply, per Adweek.
- According to Glossy, the Style Crew launched in 2017 and has grown from 20 to more than 300 employee ambassadors, each showcasing their individual sense of style and flair. The chosen staffers routinely share Macy's-sponsored posts to their social media feeds, including shoppable videos created by online creator network Tongal.
- Style Crew members will be financially rewarded if their social content leads to sales for the brand. Employees who are accepted into the program will have access to a training series that provides tips for growing their audience and get behind-the-scenes looks at Macy's latest merchandise.
Macy's expansion of its brand ambassador program comes as retailers are realizing the power of transforming their employees into social media influencers for building stronger customer connections. While department stores have had personal shopper services for years, the social influencer program also brings that level of individualized attention into the mobile age.
According to a Sprout Social survey, employee advocacy — urging employees to post brand recommendations on their own social channels — has a greater impact on purchase decisions than typical influencer marketing campaigns. Unlike the more expensive alternative for social media influencers, highlighting employee suggestions is not only more cost-effective but also offers greater authenticity. The survey reported that 61% of people said they were more likely to research a product or service that a friend recommends on social media, compared with 36% for influencers or celebrities.
Macy's has been ramping up its Instagram strategy this year and this latest news suggests employee advocates could be an important part of the push. Earlier this year, Macy's tapped Instagram's Live Share for its spring campaign and later revamped its Instagram page and added a dedicated men's page.
Fashion and cosmetics are popular products on social platforms like Instagram and YouTube, where influencers offer product demonstrations, answer questions from followers, provide advice and endorse brands. Department stores like Macy's have an opportunity to parlay strengths in product distribution and immediacy to sell products, especially big-ticket items. While more than half of consumers (55%) said they've made purchases through social media channels like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, most consumers (63%) prefer to purchase more expensive items in a store, per a study from digital marketing firm Avionos. With its growing brand ambassador program, Macy's is banking on greater digital reach that can help customers discover new products online and, if needed, lure customers into stores to close the sale.