The more active a brand is on Facebook, the better chance consumers will "Like" it. This was the key finding from a recent study on retailers' growth on Facebook and Twitter conducted by marketing agency Media Logic. However, a follow-up study released this month shows that the majority of brands on Facebook saw their growth on the social media site lose steam as the holiday season came and went.
"People use Facebook as a way to organize their social life, and they're considering retail and purchasing to be a part of their social life," says Ronald Ladouceur, executive vice president and executive creative director of Media Logic. "Facebook has become a control panel people are using for their web experience as much as they've been using Google."
The holiday season brings with it a flurry of promotions, special deals and exclusive offers, most likely the main reason for the burst of growth seen last year during Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the following weeks. Offering less deals post-holiday could be a reason for declining growth.
For example, during the holidays Macy's Clothing Store promoted special events via its Facebook page; offered free shipping, coupons, gift guides and exclusive sneak-peeks for Black Friday; and partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to donate funds to the charity. This activity helped the company realize a 26 percent lift in "likers."
Macy's is one of the few retailers that saw continued growth post-holiday season. This could be due to the fact that Macy's is one of the biggest spenders on Facebook and is up-to-date with its promotions, such as "Macy's Million Dollar Makeover with Clinton Kelly." In other words, its promotions never went stagnant.
Wal-Mart is also an exception to the decline in growth of likers. With all the drama that Wal-Mart has been involved with lately (e.g., the gender bias lawsuit, labor and environmental issues), the retailer took to Facebook and Twitter to address customers’ concerns. This move has helped the company add over 1 million new Facebook likers and 15,000 Twitter followers since January. Gap saw similar social media success when its logo controversy cropped up in October of last year.
New York & Company, Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant are among several specialty apparel brands that have launched social media campaigns around the spring fashion season to great results. New York & Company saw its liker base nearly triple in two months post-holiday season, with help from a promotion that offered daily gift card prizes. It's current number of followers (as of press time) stands at 292,792, which represents a 207 percent increase. Ann Taylor saw an 81 percent increase and Lane Bryant a 31 percent increase over the two-month period.
Other retailers that bucked the trend and saw continued growth in their number of Facebook fans post-holiday were Bass Pro Shops (21 percent increase), Cabela's (20 percent), Pottery Barn (89 percent), Gymboree (7 percent), Williams-Sonoma (49 percent), Bebe (27 percent), Banana Republic (11 percent) and Bed Bath & Beyond (252 percent). On the flip side, Kohl’s, TJ Maxx, Lowe’s, Walgreens and J.Crew all saw their fan base top off following the holidays.
Having a larger Facebook fan base is a positive. It allows retailers to provide an optimal brand experience by merging physical and online worlds into a single entity. How Facebook likes are translating into sales has yet to be seen.