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Wet Seal exec: Gamification is crucial social media element

PALM DESERT, CA – A Wet Seal executive at eTail West 2016 claimed that gamification is a crucial aspect of its social media strategy, which is rife with interactive contests and visual imagery meant to ramp up sales among its millennial target audience.

During the panel discussion, “Integrating Social Into Your Site Experience To Drive Engagement,” executives from Wet Seal, Stella & Dot and Seventh Generation revealed the social media tactics they leverage to connect with younger consumers, including having shoppable Instagram feeds and teaming up with bloggers and influencers. Wet Seal, a contemporary apparel brand, tries to bring a strong gamification element to its contests and campaigns, offering millennials a chance to snag some social media notoriety.

“Our previous chief digital officer was a proponent of having fun in contests, as well as [having] an element of fame,” said Tracy Hermans, digital marketing manager at Wet Seal.

Ringing up sales
Wet Seal aims to offer a visually engaging experience for the hundreds of thousands of fans following its Instagram account. It recently ran a model search contest, giving followers the opportunity to submit entries to star in a clothing campaign.

The contest was gamified by enabling contestants to share and vote for their favorite entries. While there was not an immediate commerce angle, consumers were able to familiarize themselves more with Wet Seal’s products.

Meanwhile, Stella & Dot has also perfected the art of marketing on Instagram. The retailer has approximately 40,000 independent stylists who sell its products, and receive commission on sales.

It encourages these stylists to post their “outfits of the day,” a popular subject for Instagram photos, using the #OOTD hashtag.

“In terms of the evolution of social and ecommerce, what has been great for us was our collaboration with Olapic,” said Elaine Nagashima, director of product at Stella & Dot.

Olapic helped the brand integrate its Instagram feed into its site and make followers’ uploaded photos shoppable. Stella & Dot is able to moderate submitted posts and curate selected images to make a fun lookbook, which fans can peruse and shop.

The company is able to leverage its Olapic collaboration to track purchases all the way down the funnel. For example, if someone purchases a product after viewing it on Instagram, the brand is able to retain that information.

Social media has been a great alternative for showcasing its products in a way that feels organic to consumers. Since many of its items can be styled differently, Stella & Dot cannot shoot stock photos displaying each combination. Instead, it relies on the user-generated content to do that.

The Stella & Dot executive admitted that its more visual channels, such as Instagram, are primarily for product and brand awareness, while YouTube and Periscope are best-suited to customer retention.

Tapping social influencers
Wet Seal is very involved in testing marketing strategies across different platforms. It maintains a Like2Buy account for its Instagram feed, which lets fans immediately purchase products featured in uploaded posts.

“We’re still showcasing the product to our customers, but showcasing it in a way that is more aspirational,” Wet Seal’s Ms. Hermans said.

The apparel marketer is also working closely with influencers and bloggers, and considers that paid social media. There is occasionally a struggle in paying for those services, since the brand may not have a set ROI role associated with each individual, especially if there are no affiliate purchasing links.

However, vlogger collaborations have been a commerce-friendly haven for the brand. Wet Seal teams up with vloggers and offers them free apparel pieces to discuss on their channels. The influencers are asked to highlight what they love about the piece, and how other people could benefit from owning it.

“Where we benefit from is YouTube,” Ms. Hermans said.