June 19, 2009, 12:00 AM

Social media users are 83% more likely to be loyal customers, retailer says

Lion Brand Yarn has found its best customers love social media, vice president Ilana Rabinowitz said at IRCE 2009. She advised other retailers to get involved in the social process, make social customers online stars and learn quickly from mistakes.

For a new marketing medium, social media isn`t doing too bad at Lion Brand Yarn Co.: 20% of shoppers coming to the e-commerce site from one of the retailer`s social presences, including those on Ravelry and Flickr as well as its own blog, buy merchandise. What`s more, Lion Brand Yarn finds social media users are 83% more likely to be very loyal to the brand compared with those shoppers who don`t use social media.

"We didn`t go in with a big P&L-blogs;, podcasts and social networks do not involve big out-of-pocket costs, and they just made sense for us because we`re used to communicating with our customers," said Rabinowitz, who spoke at IRCE in a session titled "Social Media: If Not Now, When?" "Through social media we can talk with people online directly, we can convey we are a small, family-owned business, and we can help them understand who we are as individuals within a company, which is important because people like buying from people, not corporations. With social venues you can personalize your company."

Lion Brand Yarn, No. 480 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, offers the following tips for retailers entering the realm of social networks and social media:

  • Bring senior leadership into the process.
  • Prepare to spend significant time on social media, even though the dollar cost is low.
  • Bring customers forward and make them stars.
  • Learn from mistakes quickly to make changes as soon as possible.
  • Integrate social media with all other marketing and communication efforts.
  • Listen carefully to what customers have to say-two-way communication can inform a retailer`s social media efforts and business strategy.

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