Learn from Abercrombie & Fitch: Embed social media in every customer touchpoint

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“Have you checked us out on Facebook?” As I queued to pay at Abercrombie & Fitch in London over the weekend I kept hearing this phrase over and over again. In fact as everybody paid for their purchases the sales assistants asked them this very same question. Some may have found this annoying, some may have found it forced, and some may have found it distracting. But it is actually a sign that Abercrombie & Fitch is taking its social media strategy seriously. And a great example of just how to embed social media across your customer touchpoints and with all your staff.

Developing a social media strategy and how you will use the various channels and tools at your disposal to engage your customers is only the first step. Now you need to actually engage people. And to do that people need to know where you are.

There are many ways that you can grow your social media channels. And it is often best to start small with a process of thorough seeding. Identify a small group of people in your target audience that you can work with – they may be brand loyalists, people you interact with already or those you know would be keen to work with you. You can then work with these people to start to build content and engagement in social media. You can create a starting point from which you can grow. But once you have begun to seed the site, and you are ready to open it up to your whole customer base you will want ways to increase the number of people you are engaging and how regularly you engage them. The question then comes: how do we engage more people in social media?

There are many ways to do this. Initial seeding with brand loyalists will help to spread the word about what you are doing. Outreach marketing in other social networks – such as Twitter – and engaging with bloggers and relevant forums will help you reach new audiences. And you also have the options of advertising, running competitions and other more traditional ways of promoting what you are doing. Of course, your aim may not be to reach large numbers through social media. But if it is, the best way to do it is simpler that any of these: use every existing customer touchpoint.

We’ve written before about how social media does not just take place online, and the best way of growing and embedding social media is to fit it in to your existing processes and customer touchpoints. Rather than social media begin something that is separate to the other ways you engage and interact with customers, it should complement and add to it. You should examine every customer touchpoint and talk about social media where relevant and where possible. If you mail out envelopes to customers, you should put your social media channels on the back. If you include telephone and other contact details in marketing material, you should put your social media channels there too. And if your staff actually meet or speak to your customers you should talk about social media with them.

Abercrombie & Fitch get it right. There are a few moments at the till when the assistant is usually quiet – the customer is finding their money or waiting for their bank to authorise their credit card. It uses these moments to talk about their social media activity – and in particular a campaign they are currently running on Facebook. And with 1.5 million people liking them on Facebook, they are clearly doing something right.

The best way to engage your customers in social media the best way is to embed it into  existing processes. You currently have many customer touchpoints so make the most of them. And let social media complement what you already do rather than isolating it.