The Monthly Retail Social Index Spotlight: Cheaper Than Dirt, DSW, Yankee CandleJune 19, 2012 By Carolee Sherwood
The Monthly Retail Social Index Spotlight is a ROI Report column that features a monthly update from Media Logic’s Retail Social Juice Index, a daily ranking of social engagement scores for hundreds of national retailers. Media Logic distills data from Facebook and Twitter daily and turns it into a score which represents the effectiveness of a brand’s interactions with its fans and followers. This monthly column highlights specific Retail Social Juice index scores for a given month, along with commentary about the findings.
Cheaper Than Dirt sells everything from pool toys to wool socks, but when it comes to a social media presence, the brand sticks to its guns. If you assume a Facebook page filled with posts about ammunition and firearms represents the wrong kind of engagement, you’d be mistaken. Fewer brands know their fans better than Cheaper Than Dirt, which has amazingly good sense about the kinds of posts — a mixture of humor, advocacy and education — that inspire conversation and participation.
In the most recent four-week data set from Media Logic’s Retail Social Juice Index (RSJI), Cheaper Than Dirt appeared in the top 10 for highest scoring brands all but two days. Its scores ranged from 171 to 319, averaging 227. To put that in perspective, the daily average score of all retailers listed on the RSJI remained in the 40s throughout the same period.
So what’s this online sporting goods retailer doing right? For one, it's created an oh-so-wrong sense of humor that thrills its Facebook fans. An image with this text: “I changed my car horn to gun shot sounds … People move out of the way much faster now” was liked by nearly 3,400 fans and shared by more than 1,750, for example.
There’s more to the brand than an irreverent sense of humor though. Its status updates also include a diverse mix of links and photos highlighting everything from trivia (e.g., “What’s It Wednesday,” a name-that-gun-part guessing game), legislative updates, safety reminders and survival tips. No matter the presentation, however, every bit of content demonstrates clear personality and a core philosophy that appeals to fans.
In addition to demonmstrating that it “gets” its customers, Cheaper Than Dirt gives them reasons to interact with the brand. The majority of its posts include questions or calls to action, such as “Tell him what you think,” “Click ‘like’ if you agree” and “Fill in the blank.” It's within this active community that even posts featuring products (something that’s difficult for any brand to float on Facebook and Twitter) earn respectable numbers of shares and comments.
Although they're very different brands, DSW and The Yankee Candle Company use a similar tactic to earn high social engagement: giving fans exactly what they want and expect from their Facebook pages. Both of these brands hit the RSJI’s top 10 regularly, and their average scores over the last month — DSW’s 251 and Yankee Candle’s 172 — dwarf the overall RSJI average.
Much like Cheaper Than Dirt, DSW has a singular focus on Facebook. For the shoe brand, it’s — what else? — shoes. But not just any shoes: free shoes. Fans can win shoes by providing the correct answer to a question on “Free Shoesday” (the brand’s rename of “Tuesday”). Fans can win shoes if they cheer on the winning product in a weekly “Style Race.” Fans can win shoes if they post pictures of themselves wearing shoes on the DSW timeline during a “Frenzy,” if they read a blog post and if more people “Like” the page. Giveaway after giveaway, DSW receives accolades from its adoring fans. It even has a tab dedicated to free shoes. Its “DSW Free Shoes-O-Meter,” which displays the number of free pairs of shoes fans and followers have won, was approaching 3,500 as of press time.
The singular focus for Yankee Candle is fragrance. Fans are extremely vocal about the scents they love and those they love to hate. The brand feeds this passion with lots of questions — e.g., “Do scents remind you of a favorite memory?" "What fragrance is your happy scent?” — and polls about product lines, like its new “Man Candles” offering. Everyone has opinions about these new candles, and they’re not all positive. However, the brand showed it has, um, a “scents” of humor about it, sharing with fans the recent Jimmy Fallon segment that mocked these “mandles.”
Takeaways from this month’s RSJI spotlight include the following:
- Facebook posts that feature products are tricky for brands. Since they resemble traditional advertising, it’s easy for them to spoil the fun. However, both Cheaper Than Dirt and Yankee Candle pull it off in a no-frills, out-in-the-open way, and both receive likes, shares and comments for their efforts. They’re likely successful because their fans are accustomed to being very chatty. Want to feature products in your social streams? Do it sparingly, and surround it with conversations that thrill fans.
- DSW always has a giveaway going. Cheaper Than Dirt? Never. Promotions aren’t right for everyone. Whether it’s due to industry regulations or dissonance with brand experience, a thumbs-down to contests doesn’t have to be a blow to social engagement. Cheaper Than Dirt tops the charts without them. If you use promotions, however, make sure they adhere to set guidelines. Many brands are out of compliance!
- Although Timeline places “posts by others” behind the brand page, don’t overlook fan posts as a way to boost community. DSW and Yankee Candle receive several fan posts an hour. DSW responds to each and every fan post, while Yankee Candle is silent (its fans use the space to interact with each other). Either way, keep a close eye on this to make sure it supports the kind of community you want to build.