Special report: E-commerce – Brand and the power of social media

Debbie Klein, one of the leading figures in the world of marketing, perfectly summed up the power of social media and the brave new world consumers and retailers now inhabit.

Writing for industry bible PR Week in October the chief executive of Engine Europe and Asia Pacific, revealed: “Facebook and Snapchat alone account for 18 billion video views daily, as social media influencers have become the brand ambassadors of choice.”

In this world of celebrity it’s a trend that the new generation of e-retailers is already exploiting to their advantage.

Danny Buck, the founder of new watch retailer Circulr, which he has set up as a mobile-first business, uses a single word to explain how these ‘brand ambassadors’ work: “trust”.

He adds: It’s that initial conversation with a customer. It’s a new brand; they don’t know who you are.

“I see it as the network link to your customers replacing what was a TV ad or what was old-school advertising.

“Coca Cola may have paid a fortune for a TV ad but while it is on the customer is staring at the screen on their phone looking at an Instagram of Sam Faiers, or someone like that.”

He adds: “You can grow your own following, grow your own reach, your own network and audience, using their audience to introduce them to the brand as well.”

However, it’s not just celebs, bloggers and vloggers who are populating this new land where social media influencers rule. There are other social drivers.

This features is part of a special report on e-commerce. Click here to download it for free.

Anastasia Kenyon, creator of online beauty venture Palette, says: “People are more empowered by themselves now. It’s more about engaging and showing themselves rather than looking to brands.

“If you go on social media and a girl has 19,000 followers then you think she must be special.

“People will follow girls who have all these followers because they feel that they are influencers and if they can do a post with them they’re sorted.”

Buck says that the same tactic was used on television for years – a brand ambassador, someone like David Beckham, placed on a traditional advert.

That’s now changed. He adds: “What’s working with us now and other brands I’ve worked with is putting the brand ambassador on Facebook adverts. That increases the engagement.”

He cites the influence of US reality TV celeb Kendall Jenner, who can get 100,000 ‘likes’ for one post.

Lee Marriott, head of marketing at multichannel lifestyle retailer Domu, says: “We see that across the market.”

He says that when Kim Kardashian posts about a specific beauty range there is a “spike” on Amazon.

He adds: “We tend to work less with ambassadors and more with influencers.”

Kenyon has one word of warning. It is important to get the right person for the brand, she explains.

One celebrity ambassador who is right for the Littlewoods brand is Myleene Klass, says Paul Hornby, head of e-commerce at Shop Direct.

He says: “We have celebrities who have their own lines within our products. The main one for us at the moment is Myleene, the ambassador for littlewoods.com.

“She is fantastic for the brand and is very relatable to the Littlewoods market. Her range has been fantastic as well. It’s something that she enjoys, that we enjoy and more importantly something that the customer enjoys.”

This features is part of a special report on e-commerce. Click here to download it for free.