Developing content to build an engaged Twitter audience for your brand can be tough, and the potential payoffs can be hard to define. People might sign on to read your witty one-liners or to see your compelling visuals, but can a robust Twitter following result in direct sales impact, particularly for a brand with no e-commerce presence? Duane Reade Inc. thinks so.
Via a localized and photo-heavy Twitter campaign, the 54-year-old New York-based pharmacy brand grew its Twitter following by more than 6,700% between 2012 and 2013, and also drove results at the register, says Calvin Peters, PR and digital communications manager at Duane Reade. “The challenge was to increase our community across the board, from New Yorkers to tourists. We are lucky to be able to leverage New York in our social media. With the landmarks, the buildings and the city itself, many consider New York to be the capital of the world. We’re a brand that started in New York, and because of our vast footprint in the metropolitan area, we get to leverage that.”
Duane Reade, which was acquired by Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens in 2010, is focusing on a mobile-oriented social marketing strategy to allow for localized messaging because the company is a bricks-and-mortar retailer with no e-commerce presence, Peters says. The goal of the New York-focused Twitter strategy is to drive sales from two demographics: New Yorkers who crave a hometown-centric brand image and tourists who are looking for a “New York” experience by coming to the city’s most famous drugstore, he says.
In early 2012, Peters collaborated with Collective Bias, a Rogers, Ark.-based social media and content firm, on a social media contest that encouraged Duane Reade’s Facebook followers to write about why they would be good brand ambassadors. Collective Bias chose the 10 most influential entrants—mostly New York-centric beauty bloggers to help push Duane Reade’s hosiery brand and RoC beauty supplies—by researching how they were mentioning the company on social media, what their Duane Reade-related engagement was like and what kinds of responses they elicited from their posts. The firm pulled an additional 10 ambassadors from its “social fabric” pool—a group of influencers who registered with Collective Bias to create connections with brands. All 20 Twitter VIPs were compensated for their participation with cash or Duane Reade products.
For the localized strategy to resonate, the content had to come from those users, not the brand itself, Peters says. “We had to rely on this team of influencers to be able to generate content in a relevant way to their communities,” Peters says. “What
we wanted to see from that team was not just social influencers who had relevancy within the New York metropolitan area, but we also wanted to engage social influencers who were customers of Duane Reade first.” The company grew its Twitter followers from 13,700 to 1,229,749 between September 2012 and September 2013—an increase of 6,709%. According to Peters, Duane Reade’s Twitter strategy also had a direct impact on sales, largely because of vendor-focused hashtags and promotional campaigns that capitalized on the social power of the Duane Reade Twitter influencers. For example, the brand’s “Show Us Some Leg” campaign, designed to promote Duane Reade’s custom hosiery line, ran from November 2012 through January 2013 with the
hashtag #DRlegwear. Beauty blogger Donna Kim posted a tweet touting an “exciting new project w/@DuaneReade #DRLegwear!!” featuring a snapshot of herself at a photo shoot for the legwear brand, which she later posted to her fashion-focused Tumblr page. The campaign drove 19.4 million impressions
on Twitter and contributed to a 28% lift in sales of the hosiery line. Peters and his team repeated the campaign during Halloween 2013 with the tweaked
#DRLegCandy hashtag, earning the retailer another sales boost, he says. Duane Reade’s Twitter presence makes sense for the brand’s geographic scope
and brand promise, says Jennifer Utz, vice president of business development at New York-based Meredith Xcelerated Marketing, a content marketing and
engagement agency with social media clients such as Lowe’s and Lavazza coffee. “Their content is a true mix of highlighting what’s happening in the
New York geographical area, which provides value to the people who follow them on Twitter; and coupons and promotions, since we know the majority
of people who follow a brand on Twitter are looking for deals. They’ve also done a good job of adding the customer service angle. Whenever anyone is tweeting a question or a complaint, they’re very quick to respond and resolve. With those three ingredients—providing the value of local information, providing information on coupon sales and incorporating customer service—they’ve really hit the trifecta of what makes a successful retail Twitter handle.”
Originally posted at American Marketing Association blog