March 18, 2013, 9:45 AM

How ThinkGeek attracts shoppers from social networks

An IRCE speaker will discuss the kind of content that engages consumers.

Lead Photo

Carrie Gouldin

Web-only electronics and gadget retailer ThinkGeek Inc. attracts 8.3% of its site traffic from social networks, according to Internet Retailer’s Social Media 300. That’s good enough for No. 22 in the guide, which ranks retailers by the percentage of traffic to their web sites from social networks—a measure of the effectiveness of their social media strategies.

That success is the result of a robust effort to cultivate fans on several different social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram, says Carrie Gouldin, the retailer’s web community manager. Building a devoted following starts with the way the brand engages with fans, she says. “We talk to our customers about their [interests] rather than just items we’re sell,” Gouldin says. “The interactions, not sales pitches, are what our fans are looking for.”  

Gouldin will discuss how ThinkGeek, whose parent company is GeekNet Inc., No. 175 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, develops content that drives traffic, and ultimately sales, at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2013 in a session entitled “Social media 101 for small retailers" on June 5 at 5 p.m. She’ll also discuss how ThinkGeek gauges the return on investment for its social efforts.

“We want to get the most out of our program and the only way we can know if we’re doing that is by measuring what we’re doing,” she says.

What works on one social network won’t necessarily work on another, she says. For instance, most shoppers interact with ThinkGeek on Twitter for customer service issues, while Facebook is more conversational. That’s why ThinkGeek might post a photo of a computer with an upside-down mouse and the caption “How to impress grandma: Fix her computer when 'everything moves backwards'" on Facebook. On Twitter, the e-retailer is more likely to spend time responding to a customer asking whether she can receive a discount for purchasing a large quantity of a particular item.

Internet Retailer editors asked Gouldin to speak because of her experience overseeing ThinkGeek’s social strategy. Prior to her work on the retailer’s social strategy, she was part of the retailer’s user experience team and was web director for the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.

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