October 5, 2011, 4:08 PM

Getting to know Facebook fans

BeachMint, a web-only apparel and jewelry retailer, learns how to craft powerful Facebook posts.

Lead Photo

Web-only specialty retailer BeachMint Inc. considers itself all about social commerce, which is why the e-commerce operator is digging deeper into how consumers interact with its brand and products on Facebook.

Beachmint sells apparel and jewelry associated with celebrity style, and operates two members-only sites: StyleMint.com, launched in July, and JewelMint.com, an approximately year-old endeavor that has more than 879,000 Facebook fans.  “We’re trying to create a community,” says John Volturo, Beachmint’s chief marketing officer.

Even with such a Facebook base, Beachmint did not understand why some of its posts on the social network sparked high levels of engagement while others went relatively ignored. But since Beachmint began working with social analytics vendor Kontagent two weeks ago, that’s starting to change, Volturo says.

The vendor’s kSuite analytics platform enables the retailer to analyze how its fans interact with its shopping application on Facebook. JewelMint’s Facebook page, for instance, features a shopping application built in-house that enables consumers to buy without leaving Facebook. To make a purchase consumers click on the JewelMint Shop tab on the page and then click the Connect to Shop button.

The kSuite tool helps Beachmint to map out the times of day when the most consumers are browsing and buying via the Facebook shopping application. That, in turn, enables the retailer to post product highlights at the most active times on the most active days. JewelMint posts often highlight a particular product, product URL and a message such as, “We suggest pairing the delicately romantic Bambina Cameo Ring (http://jmnt.co/naSMsu) with a cream lace mini, black tights, and ankle booties. What would you pair it with?”

When it comes to consumer interaction with those posts, different days can bring different peaks, though Volturo does not provide further details about those busy times for Facebook shopping. But he says the knowledge gained through the tool already has led to a double-digit percentage increase in Beachmint sales via the social network. “Knowing the peak usage on a specific day enables us to maximize our promotions based on that insight,” he says.

Beachmint marks the first retailer client for Kontagent, which launched in 2007 as a social gaming analytics vendor. Jeff Tseng, co-founder and CEO of Kontagent, says the basic proposition for most retailers and most social gaming companies is the same—understand the lifetime value of their customers and figure out how to improve their customers’ experiences.

“The differences are surprisingly minimal,” Tseng says. “What we present is a way to track customers at the acquisition stage—either virally, through e-mail or via ad campaigns. Then past that, we track engagement, how they are interacting with the site or service. We want to know what is drawing a customer back so that companies can figure out how best to monetize that repeat traffic.”  

Once a consumer clicks the Connect to Shop button, she gives the retailer and vendor permission to access her basic information on the social network. That enables the vendor to follow the shopper’s interactions on the social network. The vendor takes that approach, rather than using a cookie, to maintain a consumer’s privacy, says Tseng. “It’s a much more secure method,” he says.

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