The Monthly Retail Social Juice Index Spotlight: Ice.com, Shari's Berries, J&P Cycles
Media Logic's Retail Social Juice Index (RSJI) has been measuring social engagement for hundreds of national retailers since November 2011. Data for this post was compiled with engagement scores throughout August 2012, and the brands featured spent more than half the month among the top 10 most engaging brands on the index.
Ice.com posts to its Facebook page according to an extremely predictable schedule: twice a day on weekdays and once a day on weekends. It also posts very consistent content: almost always a photo with a link to the product, a mention of a discount and a "Like this if" call to action (e.g., "Like this if you'd love to see this pendant around your neck"). Despite repeating this same approach, Ice.com's score on Media Logic's RSJI is reliably high — triple-digit high. The brand seems to have found a sweet spot.
A closer look at Ice.com's Facebook posts, however, shows room for fine-tuning. Of its 10 most engaging posts in August, half included a saying or affirmation that evoked interaction, such as "Life is short. Buy the ring!" or "A man who treats his woman like a princess is proof that he was born and raised in the arms of queen." Even though these posts accounted for 50 percent of the brand's top posts for the month, these types of posts represented less than one-third of the brand's overall posts. In other words, they outperformed the strictly product-centric posts. In addition, none of Ice.com's most engaging product-centric posts flew solo. Each was either accompanied by a tie-in to Pinterest (e.g., "our most pinned piece this week") or paired with a discount, revealing that the addition of a hook added considerable appeal.
At first glance, Shari's Berries’ Facebook posts appear to resemble those from Ice.com: photos that showcase products and/or feature sayings. However, Shari's Berries varies its status considerably post to post, and the brand doesn't link to product pages. It also posts far less frequently than Ice.com, and the nature of the phrases used by the two brands is distinctly different.
Where Ice.com goes for emotion ("This is my happy place") or cheerleading ("When in doubt … wear diamonds"), Shari's Berries goes for self-deprecating humor. Its most engaging post of the month, for example, was this: "All you need in life is a friend … who has chocolate." More than 11,000 fans liked the post, 558 commented and it was shared 4,121 times. Another successful post in August from Shari's Berries was an image with the saying, "I'd stop eating chocolate, but I'm no quitter" and the following call to action: "Like this if you aren't a quitter!" Sweets are a serious weakness for Shari's Berries fans, but not so serious that they can't have fun at their own expense.
Like Ice.com, Shari's Berries is a brand that can get away with product-centric posts. In fact, one of these posts — a photo of strawberries covered with chocolate and decorated with icing to look like footballs — was the brand's second most engaging post of August. Ahead of the start of football season, the accompanying status read simply, "Our kind of fantasy football."
Biker brand J&P Cycles has something in common with both Ice.com and Shari's Berries: eye candy. It also successfully uses photos to rev up engagement with its fan base. However, as you can imagine, it's less about "pretty" and "sweet" and more about "pretty sweet" rides. Very clearly, and absolutely on point for the brand,J&P Cycles’ Facebook page celebrates all things bike … and biker. In early August, it had the perfect real-life venue: the 72nd Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Day after day, the brand brought the event to its Facebook fans, sharing photos and albums of the sights and sounds with those who liked and shared by the hundreds and thousands.
It's not J&P Cycles’ most engaging posts that hold the most interesting insights, however. Instead, we learn more from the brand's low-performing posts. For example, we know its Facebook fans aren't relating to the company's blog, since each time it shared a link to a blog post it struggled to earn even a couple hundred likes. Also failing to break 200 likes was a coupon for a bike-mounted camera.
It was one of the brand's only product-centric posts, and its delivery — strict ad copy like "for a limited time" and "the lowest price" — stuck out like a sore thumb among the rest of its just-us-guys-talking-about-our-rides posts. Another product-centric post was a picture of a Harley-Davidson with the status: "Harley-Davidson released its 2013 lineup today. See anything you like?" This one earned over 2,000 likes, an indication these "bad boy" fans may prefer the softer sell.
Takeaways from this month's RSJI spotlight include the following:
- We've warned before about relying on the same schtick, but what if formulaic posts are working? Look around at your competition. In the case of jewelry brands, for example, most others are using the same formula (i.e., product pics with links) with similar success. What distinguishes your brand? And can you break away from the pack by doing something different?
- We all know that photos boost engagement, but how you use them depends on the nature of your fans. What rallies them? Is it identifying with a community? Is it adding a diamond to a wish list? Is it having fun with quirks and imperfections? Is it showcasing attitude? It's not enough to post photos anymore; they must be interesting, and they must tap into fan energy that's specific to your brand.
- Don't be afraid to look at low-performing posts and dig into why they failed. Not this: "Fans don't like links to our blog, so let's not post anymore of those," but this: "What is it about blog content — or how we're pitching it — that isn't resonating?" Though revealed through Facebook, these kinds of insights are far more valuable than a simple analysis of what fans "like" on the social network. They can impact a brand's broader content marketing strategy.