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Deb Shops uses variegated social media strategies to acquire new shoppers

Specialty retail chain Deb Shops experiments with new social platforms on an ongoing basis and urged marketers at eTail East 2014 to create compelling and engaging content that differs per platform.

During the Assessing the effectiveness of social platforms” segment focused on engagement,  Deb used their recently redesigned web site to exemplify how extensive and frequently updated social media content is a way to engage shoppers beyond just selling. An important component of the new design is the Social Hub, a social media feed at the bottom of the home page and all product pages. Those feeds feature actual customers wearing Deb Shops fashion with content being updated hourly.

“In making our digital presence more like a magazine we went from 30,000 fans to now over 2.6 million at this time, said Jennifer Fitzpatrick, social media and brand manager, Deb Shops.

“We are on over 15 different platforms and all of our sites have specific messages per site, so it is never the same on each platform, each platform is different experience.”

Deb Shops is No. 129 in Internet Retailer’s Social Media 500 and gets an estimated 5.1 percent of its site traffic from social networks.

Integrating social content on the web site is a way to turn user-generated social content into shoppable content, Ms. Fitzpatrick, said. “There is no way to click and buy on Instagram, so we decided to integrate it into the web site.”

The social content consists of feeds from eight social sites that Deb Shops considers the most effective: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Wanelo, YouTube, The Perfect Fit and Deb Shops’ own blog.

To encourage fans to converse with the brand, Deb often asks questions to promote discussions. This allows the customers’ voice to be heard and the retailer asserted that these types of posts always receive the most comments. The content does not always have to be related to the brand, and a magazine-esque environment encourages fans to revisit social sites on a more frequent basis.

Unique content creation
Deb Shops targets young female shoppers who are fashion conscious and socially active online.

The social media integration is an extension of social content that Deb Shops was providing already. That content includes daily style inspirational photos and content, Style Chats in which a style expert answers questions in a chat format and encourages other participants to provide input and answers, and a Deb Shops blog that features girls who have a particular style and can serve as role models to others in the Deb Shops demographic group looking for fashion advice and ideas.

Bloggers can post pictures of themselves in Deb Shops fashions and those pictures will rotate with the pictures displaying the fashion on professional models.

Ms. Fitzpatrick noted that marketers should consider the platform they are on and post accordingly, as things that work for Facebook may not work on Tumblr. Researching where a target demographic is hanging out and creating a presence is a good strategy to test emerging sites to determine whether they are a good fit.

Deb experimented successfully with weheartit, Wanelo, and Snapchat and brought in additional Website traffic and product insights that the brand might not have known otherwise. And by collaborating with store during Prom 2014, a successful social media contest that utilized a paper cutout of the perfect prom date, “Rob,” experienced 1,000 entries, with over 10,000 fans acquired during the period.

“You want to always consider what platform your own and make sure that’s going to be something your audience on that platform enjoys,” Ms. Fitzpatrick.

“Something works for Facebook may not work on Tumblr.”

“That’s something that we have really tried to work on to make sure that users always have a separate experience and that if you’re on Facebook it seems like something that’s appropriate for Facebook,” she said.

Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York