The Monthly Retail Social Spotlight: Michaels Stores, Chico’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods
Michaels Stores uses Facebook — it has 1.2 million fans and typically posts three times a day — to showcase do-it-yourself projects and craft tips as well as to publish product information, discounts, class announcements and store sales flyers. Michaels also cross-promotes content from its other social platforms, like Pinterest, where it has a variety of boards, including Polka Dots and Treats & Sweets, aimed at inspiring creativity.
Currently, Michaels has two regular features on Twitter: #DIYFriday and the "Tuesday Tip." #DIYFriday, which also "happens" on Instagram, breaks craft projects into four simple steps, each with a photo and brief instruction. Over 900 fans liked #DIYFriday on May 10, a quick corsage, and 240 shared it. For its "Tuesday Tip," Michaels presents ideas that make challenging tasks easier. It typesets the copy in white on a red background, creating a shareable image. A tip on May 7 for customizing ribbons using a computer printer received 963 likes and 381 shares.
Since Michaels Stores’ customers have such diverse interests — scrapbooking, cake decorating, beading, knitting, painting, etc. — it can be difficult for the brand to find content that resonates with everyone. However, a recent "Pin It to Win It" sweepstakes offering the chance at one of five $100 gift cards succeeds by focusing on a common theme: crafter/artist obsession with and dedication to what they love.
Michaels hosted the Pinterest-based promotion "You Know You're Creative When" via a Facebook app that walked fans through the steps of pinning from the promotion's gallery and entering the sweepstakes. There were humorous sayings and colorful images to choose from for a number of creative outlets, like "You know you're a painter when you have more palettes than plates" and "You know you're into beading when you find more beads than coins in your couch cushions." Each was pinned hundreds of times.
Chico's, which posts one to three times a day on Facebook, also focused on a promotion about its fans. However, Chico's promotion wasn't about fan interests, it was about actual fans as the brand's base approached and passed the 500K mark.
On April 29, Chico's announced its goal and hinted at an incentive: "Help us reach half a million fans … and there's a special surprise for you when we do! Simply ‘Share’ this message and invite your Facebook friends to ‘LIKE’ our page for something fan-tabulous!" The post received 6,173 shares, 7,560 likes and 295 comments, and helping the brand reach its 500K goal. Chico's rewarded fans by releasing a Facebook offer — "Celebrating 500K Fans! 30% OFF" — and launching a sweepstakes for a $2,500 shopping spree.
A second promotion, "Send a Smile," was a fundraiser for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Using a Facebook app, Chico's fans created cards online and sent them to children at participating hospitals. For each card sent, Chico's donated $1 (up to $50,000).
Outside of promotions, the primary source of content for Chico's is its products. Most posts contain product pictures, links to online shopping, gift guides and shout-outs to product-driven Pinterest boards, like For the Drama Queen and Chico's version of Sweet Treats. Chico's also posts about the brand's editorial coverage, such as a recent write-up in O, The Oprah Magazine, and the brand's "Passport Program," which is its frequent shopper club.
Dick's Sporting Goods (DSG) has 2 million Facebook fans, and its Timeline, where the brand typically posts three times a day, is all action all the time. DSG covers a number of sports, from Olympic wrestling to college softball to professional hockey, at all levels, from youth sports to the big leagues, and it's very successful at rallying fans. For example, DSG's posts about saving wrestling in the Olympics are extremely popular. A cover photo dedicated to the issue earned 247 comments, 2,010 shares and 10,444 likes, and a Facebook app containing a petition to keep wrestling in the Olympics has gathered over 71K signatures.
Even posts about its products are packed with action … verbs, that is. An April 28 post about Saucony sneakers reads, "Dig deeper. Push farther." A May 2 post about Nike's football cleats says, "Burn the defender off the line, haul in the pass and explode into the end zone." In addition, DSG frames these product posts to be about performance and motivation, qualities of importance to even the most casual athlete. DSG's popular and inspiring #RunFor series picks up on those themes as well, with featured runners and "regular" fans/followers sharing their reasons for running.
Similarly, the brand's posts about more serious athletes focus on the drive all athletes have in common. Consider both its posts on achievement ("Hofstra pitcher Olivia Galati picked up her record fifth perfect game in the conference semifinals yesterday," May 10) and healthy competition ("LeSean McCoy challenged the ‘old’ Michael Vick this week to a race in the 40-yard dash … and lost by five yards. Which two athletes would you most like to see go head-to-head in a foot race?" May 4).
Takeaways from this month's Retail Social Spotlight include the following:
- Write copy that works hard for your brand. It's not only photos that need to be captivating in social media. Fans/followers need to feel momentum behind your copy as well. Write status updates and captions that showcase your brand personality. Action verbs in DSG's posts are great examples — "Dig," "Push," "Burn," "Haul," "Explode." Michaels Stores’ status updates, in contrast, do little to represent the spirit of the brand (e.g., May 2: "Mother's Day is less than 2 weeks away. Visit our Mother's Day Pinterest board for inspiration and product ideas"). The copy in Michaels’ "You Know You're Creative When" sweepstakes comes much closer. Think energetic and descriptive in a way that's particular to your brand
- Have a plan for interacting with fans/followers. Of the three brands, Michaels Stores engages in the most conversation with its fans. As you can imagine, interaction and sharing is big for this brand (as a creative-based community). Chico's responds to fans mostly when there's a specific issue to address or a question to answer. DSG pipes up maybe once per thread with a variation on this: "Thanks for the comments, everyone." (Note: DSG's copy in its replies isn't nearly as engaging as the text in its posts.) Whatever your brand's strategy, be consistent and be prepared.
- I've written before about examining low-performing posts for insights about why they failed, but you should also take a look at posts with high engagement to understand the reasons behind their success. One of Michaels Stores most popular posts (2,544 shares and 3,117 likes) was its "May the Fourth" post. On what is known as "Star Wars Day," the brand published photos of crocheted Star Wars characters and offered the patterns. It would be a mistake to attribute the engagement only to the buzz related to May 4. In addition, the project was suited to the audience, therefore unique fans were unlikely to see anything like it elsewhere. Other factors to consider: What day/time was it published? What did the brand do to promote it? How much other content did the brand publish that day?
- Don't make it (too much) about you. There are a number of recommendations about how often brands should post about themselves, and they all have one thing in common: post less about the brand than you do about other things. In other words, give more than you take. There are other ways to look at that balance as well, and even if it was serendipity, Chico's accomplished a kind of equilibrium this month. Its Liker promotion (which typically feels very me-focused) and its support of the Children's Miracle Network (which is an act of generosity) helped the brand keep its content in proportion.