For many online companies, the jury is still out on whether to add social media marketing to their traditional marketing strategies.

And, for some, social media engagement still means replying to customer queries on Facebook.

But, for many companies who do choose to use the likes of Facebook, Twitter, G+ and Pinterest, not only have they seen an increase in e-commerce sales but also are enjoying a strengthened online presence and social media footprint across the web. Research shows that social media campaigns, blogs and social networking can make a big impact for a brand.

Social media for e-commerce sites

Online businesses are using social media to build their brand, to assist in customer service and to give a behind the scenes look into a company’s culture and for these reasons, many are seeing great success. Facebook gives a reach of just over 30 million unique users in the UK alone, 25-34-year-olds are the largest age group on both Facebook and Twitter and what is even more significant from a marketing point of view, 43% of users claim to be earning £30,000 – £49,999 a year so why aren’t more companies using social media to brag about their brand? Worth a massive £50 billion, the e-commerce industry is one of the fastest growing.

This week came the results for this year’s finalists in the eCommerce Awards for Excellence. In the Best Social Media Engagement category, ASOS, EditorsKeys.com, Jessops, RS Components, Virgin Media and Vodafone UK reign but what are they doing so right? With an ever-growing online community, an eBay-style Marketplace and a social media friendly site, ASOS and its social media presence is all-encompassing. The world of fashion is based on more than just a product. The way we engage with fashion is a visible expression of our personalities and a conscious statement about who we are.

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Influence and association

People like to be associated with a brand and now, there are more ways than ever to be in contact with them, be it through social media, blogs or celebrity endorsement. Traditionally, consumers would follow a brand but as we move into a more socially active age, it is the fashion brand who must follow and interact with the consumer, and that is what ASOS does best. Along with Topshop, ASOS is the best retailer when it comes to social media marketing, according to this Stickyeyes report. Based on both levels of engagement and social volume, ASOS was the best womenswear retailer, achieving 87% on Stickeyes’ social media scorecard index, followed by Topshop with 77%.

The scorecard ties together social volume and social engagement and analyses a number of marketing tactics, looking for their effectiveness in driving customer engagement. Refraining from rewarding brands merely for their following, Stickyeyes took in a range of factors such as the number of times individuals are talking about a brand, positive sentiment and much more. ASOS top other fashion brands with a score of 97.26% for social volume vs. engagement. The report also showed that ASOS scored well regarding retweets, suggesting they produce quality content which is both engaging and propagated.

The success of ASOS

In the last year, ASOS has gained more Twitter followers than any other retail brand in the UK. ASOS stomps through the rankings for its engaging online presence and does so by maintaining intrigue among its followers whilst holding friendly and down-to-earth conversations with its fans. The beauty of ASOS’ social media campaign, and the reason for its success lies in the fact that it uses the consumer as the promotional tool. Without the vital input of the consumer, ASOS’ social media content would be nothing.

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A clever ratio of social to promotional information makes ASOS.com’s Facebook and Twitter profiles a firm favourite amongst fans. It is sociable and interactive with its fans and followers, asking them for their opinions to provoke engagement and above all, offers style tips and promotional offers. People have the power with ASOS. Currently, the brand is running an ‘It’s Down to You!’ event – consumers ‘like’ their favourite t-shirt and the three most popular will get 60% off in the sale on Sunday. In the past, competitions like the Future Stylist have handed the public their dreams on a plate, offering prizes of a lifetime as well as the usual product giveaways.

The bottom line is simple: brands must discover social networking channels and more specifically, those that their customers are using and spending time on and include them in their marketing strategies.  Without leveraging social media, brands are missing out on building relationships and community with consumers and increasing new customer acquisition through word of mouth.  ASOS’ success speaks wonders for the benefits of building social media into online marketing campaigns.

Unsure how to approach your own social campaigns? Take a look at our Social Media Approach.