But losses mount for the home furnishings e-retailer that went public in October.
Prompted by the success, the e-retailer is building a Facebook store.
Motorcycle-Superstore.com today has more than 107,000 Facebook fans, about twice the number it had in June. A series of Facebook sweepstakes specifically designed to acquire new fans and have those fans spread the word to their friends produced the gains, says Chris Johnson, the e-retailer’s social marketing coordinator.
The e-retailer began working in June with Extole Inc., a vendor that helps firms drive word-of-mouth referrals using giveaways on web sites and social media. Motorcycle-Superstore.com, No. 197 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, wanted to be the first e-retailer of motorcycle and biking gear to reach 100,000 Facebook fans. “Our goal was to increase Likes, not to directly benefit sales right away,” Johnson says. “We figured once we had a good fan base, we’d be able to implement our own sales tactics toward them.”
Motorcycle-Superstore.com launched its first, and to date largest, giveaway on Facebook last summer. It ran for one month. Because Motorcycle-Superstore.com sells to a niche audience and its main intent with the first giveaway was to increase fan volume, the e-retailer decided to use more generic prizes, such as iPads and gift cards, to generate interest, rather than use its own inventory.
Although the giveaway did not require a Facebook users to Like Motorcycle-Superstore.com’s Facebook page to enter, it still generated 13,000 to 14,000 new Facebook fans for the e-retailer. At the end of the entry process, a prompt encouraged entrants to spread the word about the contest to their Facebook friends—and gave them a good incentive to do so.
“It was structured on a ‘you win and I win’ format,” says Blake Hayward, Extole’s vice president of products. That meant that if a Facebook user recommended the giveaway to a friend who entered and won a prize, that user would also receive a prize. Hayward says the format’s intent was to make the contest spread through word of mouth. More than 30% of entrants shared their entry with friends, which Hayward says made the contest go viral.
Motorcycle-Superstore.com has run two more giveaways with Extole, but those were targeted more to the e-retailer’s audience, which is why the retailer gave away motorcycle gear. Johnson says that since the e-retailer boosted its Facebook fan base, it’s seen daily posts on its Facebook wall increase 25% to 30%. It’s also seen referral traffic from Facebook to its e-commerce site go up, although he did not say how much. Sales have also increased about 20%, although Johnson can’t directly attribute them to the Facebook initiative.
Johnson says Motorcycle-Superstore.com fans now routinely engage with the e-retailer through Facebook. For example, a recent one-day contest—not administered through Extole—asked Facebook visitors to submit captions for an amusing photo of a biker. The contest attracted more 340 entrants.
Its growing presence on Facebook has led Motorcycle-Superstore to work on a Facebook store, which remains under development. “Because we grew our base, when we unveil this new format we will have a solid base of people that may participate in it when we launch,” he says.