The State of Retailing Online 2015 report finds search and email leading the pack with e-retailers.
The Top 500 retailer’s “More the Merrier” board features items from each of HSN’s brands. The board has more than 7,900 followers, making it one of the most popular boards HSN has ever posted.
Prior to this holiday season, HSN Inc. rarely sought to inform shoppers that the same company behind HSN also owns brands such as Ballard Designs, Frontgate and TravelSmith. Instead, it focused on each brand building its own followings.
But this year the retailer decided to abandon that approach, figuring that the more exposure its brands get, the better. It tied together its eight brands on Pinterest, the social network where shoppers can “pin” images and photos of products they like from around the web. HSN, No. 24 in the 2013 Top 500 Guide, in October launched the “More the Merrier” board, where it showcases gift ideas from Ballard Designs, Frontgate, Grandin Road, Chasing Fireflies, Garnet Hill, Improvements, HSN and TravelSmith. Within days, the board was among the most popular boards, in terms of followers, that the retailer had ever posted. As of Dec. 24, the board has more than 7,900 followers, making it the retailer’s third-most popular board ever.
Because consumers are used to Pinterest boards—organizational tools used to group pins together around a particular theme—featuring images from various merchants, the social network was a natural place for HSN to bring together its brands, says Maggie Hatfield, the retailer’s vice president of emerging media marketing. “By strategically working across brands, we’ve been able to tell weekly theme stories,” she says. Items featured on the board have been repinned two to three times more often than other products it has pinned.
The campaign was just the latest way the retailer has sought to leverage social media to build its brands as the retailer has increasingly come to view social media as a way of building deeper relationships with its customers, says Hatfield.
For instance, HSN in March launched the weekly TV program “Beauty Report” that focuses around a particular topic, like “hair” or “nails.” And the retailer worked with social media platform development company Mass Relevance to help it attract shoppers to the TV show and HSN.com.
The retailer focused the campaign on Twitter because that’s the social network shoppers generally use as a” second screen” when watching TV, and it offered a potential new customer base, Hatfield says. “We knew that a lot of our customers weren’t on Twitter,” she says. “But there are plenty of people on Twitter interested in beauty products. We thought we could get those people to consider us in a new way.”
The campaign started slowly to help consumers get used to Twitter tie-in. At first, the retailer subtlety featured the #beautyreport hashtag on the TV show, and its social team tweeted using the hashtag on Twitter and when posting about the show on Facebook. Any word that starts with a pound sign (#) is a hashtag, which becomes a clickable link to all other mentions of that word.
It then built a section of HSN.com focused on the show that included what the retailer calls “conversation starters” with fill-in-the-blank polls that, with the consumers’ permission, the retailer could post to Twitter and read on the air. It also began featuring 10-second calls to action that asked shoppers to “join the conversation” on Twitter using the hashtag #beautyreport.
To gauge the HSN campaign’s success, Mass Relevance tracks how many consumers have seen its #beautyreport hashtag. It also monitors the number of tweets per minute during the TV show, which demonstrates whether the calls to action on the TV show are working.
When the host asks viewers to “join the conversation,” the retailer sees the number of tweets per minute double or triple. And twice the #beautyreport hashtag has trended on Twitter for more than an hour and a half, which means it is one of the most popular topics on the social network.
Moreover, the number of posts about HSN is more than 320 times greater than they were in March, when “Beauty Report” first aired. The success has led HSN to expand the hour program to two hours, says Hatfield.