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What do Retailers Know About Social Media?

Posted by on August 30, 2008

Retailers such as JC Penney and Victoria’s Secret are turning to social media interaction to boost back to school sales.  According to an article by Information Week:

Social networking sites, virtual worlds, social shopping sites, visual search engines, interactive video, and widgets have emerged as key marketing platforms for the 2008 back-to-school shopping season.”

It should come as no surprise that reaching out to consumers via cost effective social media channels can be a great way to increase not only sales, but overall brand awareness and visibility.  JC Penney has actually created an online game called “DorkDodge” whose premise is to avoid undesirable dates while trying to find “dreamy” dates.  During the game interaction JC Penney shows girls how to achieve a certain desirable look with various JC Penney outfits and clothing options.

Sears launched a similar campaign with actress Vanessa Hudgens from “High School Musical.”  Vanessa dresses up in various character outfits to show that Sears has a large collection of clothes that are perfect for virtually every girl.

There is still some speculation as to whether or not using social media will actually increase these back to school sales or increase overall brand awareness.  Either way we are looking at a positive result.  I think social media is actually one of the best ways to increase brand awareness AND sales.

how would you use social media to increase sales? have you seen any examples/case studies of companies actually increasing sales with social media?

  • Ari Herzog

    It's great that retailers are getting into the fold, but is it truly the retail management and franchise store owners, or a web design or PR firm looking to snazz up the site?

    • jacobmorgan

      hi ari,

      good point, since most of the companies appear to be large retailers such as victorias secret, macy's etc. i imagine that a bunch of senior level management folk site around a table and talk about what they can do to drive sales, they read about social media and decide to give it a shot. the trouble is they don't appear to be focusing on creating anything clever. they are just working on capturing attention in the hopes that the attention will convert into a sale, there are no special social media promotions, referral prizes, give aways, etc.

      i don;t know who the store owner would be at macy's or one of the large retail companies but either way they are deciding to dip their toe into the social media pool :)

  • Dennis McDonald

    Jacob, thanks for the post. My first question is, what about the little guys? Do you have to be a big retailer to use these tools? What if you are a single-store-owner in a place like Old Town Alexandria Virginia? Would it make sense for a local retailer to use such tools on his or her own? Or would it be necessary to bring in a PR or marketing firm to help? Seems to me that the division of labor you see at a large retailer would be just as much of a challenge for a small retailer.

    • jacobmorgan

      hi dennis,

      depends on what the goals are. i actually think the smaller business at better off with social media then the big guys. if i had a small town somewhere the first thing i would do is make sure that i could sell online. there are all sorts of things you can do if you are a small retailer, after all, in the online world it doesn't matter how big your actual store is. online, your store is as big as you want it to be.

      a small online retailer can create a fashion blog, a flickr account with locals wearing the store clothes, can write guest posts on other fashion blogs, etc. there is a lot of potential for any company anywhere to get involved in social media. mashable, one of the largest social networking blogs, was started in a small town in scotland!

      there isn't as much labor involved as one might think

  • Phashion

    There is still some speculation as to whether or not using social media will actually increase these back to school sales or increase overall brand awareness

    • jacobmorgan

      well hopefully it will do both!

      thanks for the comment

  • Stylist

    Social Media has really helped our business

  • Stylist

    Social Media has really helped our business