Shopping with the Schrecklet (my 14-year-old daughter) can be torture sometimes. She has to try on 1,700 pairs of jeans from 350 different stores in 5 or 6 malls and still isn't sure if she likes anything. Of course if I say, “Oooh, I like the way those look on you” she will correct me, pointing out 17 things that I should have known such as “The stitching is not bold enough” or “The zipper shouldn't stick out 2 millimeters like this.” I have no credibility when it comes to teen clothing.
Now if I drop her off at a mall with four of her friends, she will come home with several bags filled with treasures as if she had been shopping for weeks. The difference? Social shopping with peer feedback. Social shopping will begin to take off this year with sites like Fashism (Ashton Kutcher is one of the main investors in this company) and GoTryItOn, both providing customers the opportunity to try on clothes, take a picture with their cell phones and upload it to these sites for immediate feedback. If you can't decide which outfit to wear for that special date or first interview, you can send a photo of yourself wearing each and ask the crowd!
Some of you may be wondering why anyone would want the opinion of total strangers online, but if you sit for 10 minutes outside a women's dressing room, you will see that it happens all the time. If people shop in groups (or packs as in the case of teenaged girls…scary packs) they will buy more and make decisions faster.
So what can you learn from this wild pack animal behavior? If you can create social environments where people talk about you and your brand, the pack will sell more for you than you and your slick brochures ever will. Here are 4 tips to get your social pack working for you:
- Build the community. Just like budding teen relationships, this takes a bit of time and nudging, but if you encourage your current customers to engage with you on your Facebook and Twitter accounts, many will join in. Don't forget to talk about these connection tools in your email signature lines, marketing materials, websites, billing inserts, receipts and newsletters.
- Identify your champions. Watch a pack of teens (there are probably mall safaris you can find in your city). There is usually one or two who will tell the others what looks good and what doesn't. The others are easily convinced. Every brand has those cheerleaders and champions who love to share their experiences online. Encourage them to post photos, videos or stories of themselves interacting with your brand.
- Use contests and promotions whether through Facebook Deals, Foursquare, Gowalla or something unique that you can offer. If one teen sees that there is a “Buy-One-Get-One” sale, watch how fast they will convince the pack to pool money and get matching tops! People will rally their troops when there is money to be saved or prizes to be won. Never underestimate the power of healthy competition! (Even I have been known to take out little grannies to win sample packs of eye-make up!)
- Appreciate participation. Always be listening to the social-vine… and not just for trouble. When someone gives your brand a shout out, be sure to thank them and let them know they ROCK! Remember, behavior that is recognized and rewarded gets repeated…and occasionally it works when the dishwasher gets unloaded!
How can you use SOCIAL SHARING and SOCIAL SHOPPING to build your business this year? Share your ideas with us… the pack is waiting for your opinions!
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