Department Stores Make Sales Pitches on Facebook

19 04 2010
By Sara Inés Calderón

Department stores have set up shop on Facebook, launching major brand marketing campaigns in order to encourage their customers to become brand ‘fans’ and deepen their fans’ relationship with the brand.

We recently reported that women in the U.S. constituted over 56% of the overall Facebook population. This demographic split underlines a longtime trend that is especially strong among women between 26 and 44.  Interestingly, this is the exact audience who are most likely to have disposable income to spend and are likely to spend it on themselves. With so many women in this age group engaging actively on Facebook, department store brands are taking notice and responding by driving Page and application initiatives.

We looked at a total of seven department stores that seemed to be focusing most, if not all, their efforts on women: Bloomingdale’s had about 21,000 fans and Macy’s had 256,000 or so (they’re owned by the same company), Dillard’s with under 19,000 fans, JC Penney with almost 784,000 fans, Kohl’s had over 952,000 fans, Nordstrom with almost 55,000 and Sears with more than 158,000 fans.

Most of the Pages: actively updated their status with store deals, allowed fans to post to the Wall (except Sears) and were very responsive to posts/comments. In terms of media, they featured a lot of photo albums, mostly of merchandise, a few dozen videos, links to their web sites. They highlighted specials in some way — either with a tab, a box or an application. Only a few used discussion boards, events or notes frequently but all of them linked to Facebook from their web sites (and vise versa on Facebook) and were pretty active about talking back to the customers who posted/commented on their Walls. Dillard’s included a full-service store on their Facebook Page.

Three of the stores featured specials or apps on their Facebook landing pages; JC Penney included a slide show of swim suits, Macy’s The Daily Fashion Challenge app/game which linked to their site for a chance to win a $500 gift card and Sears promoted “amazing offers” only for Facebook fans.

Apps the stores featured on their Pages were interesting because they had a wide range. Kohl’s had an LC Lauren Conrad tab that included an app to see the making of her collection, in addition to boxes for Twitter and YouTube and videos. Macy’s create a game/app called The Daily Fashion Challenge asking users to create an outfit from merchandise to enter to win a $500 gift card, although the game was played on Macy’s web site, not Facebook, one place the company could make a change to more fully engage their fans. Dillard’s had the most exciting app, an online store, complete with inventory, a shopping basket, and the ability to purchase right on Facebook.

Dillard’s also included an interesting on their Facebook Page, Phoebe “The Fit Girl,” a mascot-like cartoon that helps women find the proper sizes for undergarments; Phoebe even has her own Facebook Page and blog, both featured on Dillard’s Page. The Page also featured a Polls tab with a lot of polls, a signup tab for their email/mail lists, a Twitter tab filled with tweets and an I Do tab for weddings that linked to their web site, strange considering how the company created a store online but didn’t do the same for their wedding registry.

Most Pages built in many, many tabs.

Kohl’s had a Celeb Style tab, Receipt Contest tab, Scholarship Tab, Green Scene tab, Style & Savings tab and a lot of activity on their discussion tab; each of these tabs was well-built with information about the contest, scholarship, green programs or ways to save money at the store. JC Penney had a Weekly Obsession tab for highlighted items, a Spring Poll tab, Style File and Sweepstakes tabs. Macy’s had a tab for prom, a Trend Report tab featuring “hot” merchandise, a Give Back tab for charities on Facebook and a Polls tab that had seen more than 44,500 people vote since August. Sears included tabs for their rewards program, a Theme Song Quiz, a YouTube tab and was the only store to feature a Careers tab.

Compared to some of the other categories of Facebook Pages we’ve investigated, the department stores seem to be on the ball. Dillard’s, of course, took this one step further by featuring a full store on their Page, but they could also have done the same with their wedding registry. Overall, most of these stores incorporated their merchandise and specials into everything they did on Facebook, creating original content to keep fans on the social network and paying attention to what their fans said about and to them.

It’s clear that there are many opportunities for retailers and other brands looking to deepen customer relationships online, and Facebook is presenting an increasingly sophisticated array of possibilities week after week. For retailers looking to take further advantage of Facebook Pages and other features for reaching customers, full understanding of Facebook’s complex marketing tools is imperative. We detail exactly how to market with Pages, apps, and advertisements in the Facebook Marketing Bible, the comprehensive toolkit for marketers seeking to launch or improve campaigns on Facebook.


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