The Retail Social Spotlight: American Greetings, Ikea, Ray-Ban
By Carolee Sherwood
Note: To view all the examples that I share in this article, check out the slideshow at the bottom of the page. Thanks!
If there's any brand that arrives at the social media table with visuals and content at the ready, it's a card company like American Greetings. The brand's products already do the work of getting consumer attention with visuals and evoking emotion — amusement, love, sympathy — with concise copy.
It's no surprise, therefore, that American Greetings’ Facebook posts primarily come from its cards. The brand has 377,000 likers and it typically posts once per day. In addition, it has its own blog and profiles on Pinterest, Twitter and Google+. Though visitors are using "#americangreetings" on Instragram, the brand has no official profile there.
Some of American Greetings most successful Facebook posts are those that are inherently shareable due to the pairing of sentiment and imagery, the core strengths of the brand. One of its most shared Facebook updates recently (June 20: "Don't you wish we all could stay forever young?") was posted with an image of a child blowing bubbles and an in-image quote from Gaston Bachelard: "Childhood lasts all through life."
Since there are American Greetings cards and e-greetings for numerous occasions throughout the year, relevant content is consistently available. For example, its July 4 Facebook status update is accompanied by an image from its e-card gallery: a closely cropped photo of a boy with rolled-up jeans on a tricycle with an American flag attached and the words "God Bless America."
Like American Greetings, Ikea has no shortage of visuals for its social platforms. The brand is active on Facebook (2.3 million likers), Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest, as well as a blog. On Facebook, Ikea typically posts twice per day. The content of those posts are a mix of design inspiration (e.g., a playroom on July 6), discounts, special offers, product and service highlights, sweepstakes/contests, and how-tos (via the recurring "How-To Tuesdays").
Other sources of Facebook content for Ikea are news items and seasonal messages. On June 26, it posted about its recognition as a Best Global Green Brand, noting that it moved up six places in the rankings. On July 10, with a photo of bulldozers and workers in hardhats, Ikea reported "progress on [its] Kansas City-area store." And throughout July, the brand posted frequently about both summer cooking and "back-to-college."
One of Ikea's most popular posts came on June 26 about a product: solar/wind-powered outdoor lights. The post was a success, both in likes and shares, not only due to the appealing visual, but also due to the unique nature of the lights, which Ikea describes in its status as "simple, sustainable and stylish." Another popular post linked to a YouTube video showing the care and craftsmanship that goes into building a sofa: "Go behind the scenes. Watch a Stockholm sofa from the new 2013 collection come to life!". Both posts very clearly illustrate traits — uniqueness and quality — associated with the brand.
Another retailer that does a great job of branding its Facebook posts is Ray-Ban. Ray-Ban has 6.9 million fans on Facebook, where it posts roughly three times per day. It also has presences on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube (a music channel and a channel for Ray-Ban films). Ray-Ban's focus in its social streams (and its website) is clear: its products featured along with music and video/film. Creative outlets that, not coincidently, are very social.
Most of its product posts are pretty simple: a photo plus a brief description and link to the Ray-Ban website. On June 25, it introduced "six new summer flavors," sunglasses inspired by ice pops. In the following days, it highlighted each "flavor." On July 1, for example, it posted this update: "Strawberry #IcePops with gradient lenses and clear acetate // A new taste of Summer // @ www.ray-ban.com," along with a photo of the frames. For a few of its product posts, however, Ray-Ban had a little more fun. On International Joke Day, it posted a photo of someone about to step on a banana peel captured through a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses.
The strongest promotion in this spotlight comes from Ray-Ban, in large part due to its branding. Ray-Ban is hosting "Envision the Possibilities," encouraging consumers around the world to contribute their visions to the #EnvisionSeries gallery. Ray-Ban has two Facebook apps working for the promotion. The first app is for "Never Hide Films," which right now is featuring "insanely talented people who are changing the way we view creativity in social media." The second, called "Social Visionaries," scans public Facebook data to create personalized videos: "The Social Brilliance of [Facebook Username]."
Containing the word "vision," the promotion name is ideal for a sunglasses brand. And by making it "envision" expands brand awareness from eyewear to lifestyle.
Takeaways from this month's Retail Social Spotlight include the following:
- Get your social house in order! Include links from your website to your sociaI streams. Ikea doesn't do this, although its product pages have social sharing buttons. Ray-Ban's website features links to its social streams (except its Instagram account, for some reason), but its link to Pinterest reveals a blank profile (no boards yet). Don't link until you're ready for visitors! American Greetings provides links from its website to all its social networks and gives users access to them via apps on Facebook. However, instead of capitalizing on the strengths of each network — and creating individual value for each — content is simply replicated across all its streams, even its blog.
- Use different platforms to focus on different products, campaigns and audiences. Without Instagram, American Greetings is missing an opportunity to share its Taylor Swift and One Direction lines with a younger, visually oriented demographic. And the aspirational, vision-board feel of Pinterest would make it a natural fit for Ray-Ban's #EnvisionSeries.
- Lead with your strengths. Lucky for American Greetings, quotes/memes continue to be some of the most shared content on social media sites. The brand's content is a great fit for this, such as its July 4 quote from Robert Frost ("Freedom lies in being bold") and one on July 12 from the Dalai Lama ("Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible."). Remember, however, to make your images the proper dimensions to avoid unflattering crops, and typeset the shareable copy within the image itself (vs. in your status update which doesn't get passed along when likers share the image).
- Be social outside social media platforms. Brands don't have to limit their social engagement to existing platforms. Branded microsites and mobile apps can be very social as well. Take a look at Ikea's Share Space (which the brand calls its "social fan site"), where the brand's customers are creating impressive galleries. Unhide, one of the mobile apps from Ray-Ban, helps users find their Facebook friends in a crowd.
- Social promotions must help build your brand. Very simply, Ray-Ban's #EnvisionSeries adds depth to its brand and creates connections with customers. American Greetings’ Yodeling Contest? Well, not so much. Yes, it illustrates the offbeat absurdity it's after in some of its e-cards, but what does it accomplish by way of keeping the brand relevant?