Showpo gives insight into its social marketing success story

Online clothing retailer Showpo boasts an impressive social media reach, using different platforms to promote its brand to its audience of over two million. The Register spoke to chief marketing officer of Showpo, Mark Baartse, about the best way to market on social media and if he thinks influencers have longevity in a world ruled by ‘likes’.

With 1.1 million followers on Instagram, 880,000 followers on Facebook and 48,700 Youtube subscribers, it’s not a wonder as to why this pureplay retailer places a lot of importance on marketing through social media platforms.

“Having multiple channels really helps spread engagement,” says Baartse. “Social media marketing is about focusing on being where your customers are. It may be slightly different demographics on each platform, for example, Facebook is a bit older, and LinkedIn is mainly used for employment and b-to-b posts.”

Baartse says social media marketing will always be an important part of an online retailer’s overall strategy, but admits the amount it can be monitored, and monetised, can be difficult.

“There is really no magic tool to monitor how well posts perform; you have to do it yourself. Even we’re not using any particularity special tools. Just the most important part is that you are monitoring engagement.”

“One of the challenges with social media, particularly with organic social media, is that it is very hard to directly measure the impact of it. We may get lots of likes and lots of engagement, but how well that converts to sales we couldn’t put a hard number on.”

Some of the largest marketing budgets on social media are used for influencer marketing, a trend which Baartse says is fueled by consumers feeling like they can relate to the content.

“Consumers find their tribe, the people they aspire to be like. And those influencers are able to speak to them in a more authentic way because what you’re doing as a retailer is using that person’s voice and their own style.”

“It’s not like old school advertising where you have complete control, and you don’t want that complete control, you want that person to inject their personality into the content. And I think people relate to that”

Showpo uses a range of both micro and macro influencers, but says as a company its size, smaller influences often, “get lost in the noise.”

“When we pick them, we want someone who has the right style and matches our aesthetic. But then we consider their engagement and what sort of followers they have. Geographical locations come into it as well.”

“There are also various tools you can use to determine fake engagement. It is tricky, and it is certainly something that happens. But anyone using fake followers is just stupid, it actually hurts your engagement levels in the end.”

Yet despite the success of influencers and its apparent grip on advertising, Baartse expects the way they are used and employed to evolve with each social media platform.

“I think it does have longevity. I think it will look very different from how it looks now. I mean it’s inevitable that Instagram is going to change its algorithms, to almost certainly penalise influencers. So, at that point, it becomes more like a celebrity endorsement kind of thing where you’re paying for the celebrity but you’re also paying for the media as well. With that, certain media requirements come in, I think the way people will approach that will be very different.”

“It’ll be different, harder for small players but definitely different.”

Like most businesses and media online, Showpo saw a drop in engagement following Facebook’s algorithm changes, Baartse expects more changes as the platforms continue to evolve.

“We noticed a drop-in engagement when those algorithms came it, but so did everyone else. Now that Facebook is pretty much 100 percent paid media, and with Instagram expected to follow later this year, at that point organic social media may become a thing of the past. But in return for that money in media, the platforms will give you better data.”

Baarste says no matter the size of your company, similar caution must be taken when it comes to social media marketing and using influencers.

“Just be careful with influencer marketing, there is a lot of people out there that want to take a lot of money for not doing very much. Make sure you’re selective very carefully and looking at the quality. It is really important to have a strong brand alignment.”

Baartse says brand working on social media need to talk less about themselves and more about the customer, as your audience, “don’t care about you, they care about themselves.”

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