Social Media Playbook: LOFT


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Strategic recommendations for Ann Taylor's LOFT brand in social media strategy. Includes competitor analysis, trends, tactics, legal considerations and crisis management.

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Social Media Playbook: LOFT

  2. 2. TABLE OF CONTENTS2 3 Company Snapshot 4 Current State of Social Media 6 Competitive Analysis: 8 Anthropologie Banana Republic White House Black Market Recommendations 10 Ideas & Tactics 12 Crisis Management 14 Trends 15 Conclusion 17
  3. 3. COMPANY SNAPSHOT: LOFT 4 5Meet the BrandLOFT is a sub-brandof parent company Ann Taylor (Parent brand) LOFT (Sub-brand)Ann Inc, which alsoowns the chain AnnTaylor. Rebranded asLOFT (formerly Ann Website: Website: loft.comTaylor Loft), it is a retailspecialty store that sellsmostly apparel andaccessories. LOFT’s Blog: Blog: liveloveloft.comtarget market is young,professional women, (no longer live)likely ages 22 - 45,with medium to high Facebook: Ann Taylordiscretionary income.LOFT has stores in malls Loftacross the US. They sell Twitter: @AnnTaylorregular, petite, weddingand maternity clothing. Twitter: @LOFT Youtube: AnnTaylor Foursquare: AnnTaylor
  4. 4. 6 What LOFT does well pictures of themselves wearing the pants in Opportunity areas for LOFT presence or pintrest, a female style centric 7 LOFT is leveraging Facebook and Twitter different ways and were applauded online While LOFT has done well managing their community where educational and styleCURRENT STATE as their main social channels. They are accordingly for their swift response. Facebook and Twitter page, they need to brands like Real Simple have huge following. using these two platforms for a wide range of activities including 1) customer service LOFT leverages videos created in 1) expand their social media footprint in User experience can make or break a fans 2) public relations 3) recruiting 4) market partnership with Marie Claire magazine as order to be where their customers are decision to revisit the brand page. While research and 5) marketing. they profile their search contest to recruit 2) fix user functionality glitches within 95% of LOFTs features work seamlessly, the a a talented fashion intern for the summer. existing platforms “store locator” feature was unable to find First and foremost, LOFT acknowledges This HR video series kept the engagement my local store. This store search is crucial individual users requests on a one-by- ongoing as the contest progressed with a The Ann Taylor brand is able to maintain to the research process and is one of the top one basis. On both facebook and twitter, social media component at the individual three other platforms including youtube, reasons shoppers visit a retailers homepage. LOFT responds to customer service issues schools where the events were held. foursquare and blog. By providing a link While engagement may be high online, this by directing complaints to their social_ to the LOFT video page from the Ann may detract from offline sales conversion email address, LOFT has also used their facebook page Taylor youtube (10,000 views on ann taylor and is easily fixed. The second quick fix thereby letting other users know that issues for market research. A recent post,“Tell page), LOFT can leverage Ann Taylor is the default news feed style. Currently, are being addressed. us your favorite sweater color of the ten content that is applicable to both brands. LOFT don’t show any user posts on their CURRENT STATE available”, is both product and research Specifically, they share a common charity: facebook wall or twitter feed until you click During a recent Black Friday sale, the focused. Another asks about what fans St Jude Children’s hospital, so it would make “everyone”. This looks like a one-sided LOFT site was down for several hours. would rather win in a sweepstakes. Their sense to have a single channel, video, that conversation and lowers LOFT’s credibility They apologized to fans for their website facebook site uses tabs well, designating supports this cause across both brands. Ann and authenticity. Next, the facebook page being down during black friday increased one for polls and questions. Taylor began using Foursquare in July 2010 has no reference to the Twiiter presence. traffic on both platforms, earning 1700+ to run geolocated promotions including This link would help grow their presence on likes on Facebook for offering a promotion Marketing best practices include cause discounts to mayors. As LOFT is targeted Twitter via their facebook fanbase. Fourth, the following day to make up for the related marketing, announcing winners toward a younger, slightly less affluent the “Polls” tab is currently empty. This just snafu. Also in a public relations effort, of previous sweepstakes contests, using female, it only makes sense that they also looks bad to have no content on an already LOFT responded to a stream of complaints relevant language to target demographic, leverage the Foursquare platform. Others to tab crowded page, so I recommend deleting for “real women” in photos after a tall and featuring photos of their ambassador consider may be Google Plus, where indirect this unless it will be refreshed with content blonde model was featured in cargo pants bloggers on their photos tab. Specifically, competitors like Nordstrom are gaining that is useful to the consumer or to LOFT. said to be unrealistic for real women St. Jude Children’s Hospital is used across to wear. Employees immediately took both the Ann Taylor and LOFT brands, elevating the impact of their donations. “Spoiler alert” is a term commonly used to IMC Squared Model reveal whats ahead on entertainment shows and LOFT has chosen to use this trending Dallas based social media agency IMC squared has a six step model for deepening topic to resonate with their consumers and engagement with the consumer in the social space (Exhibit 1). Currently, I would show up in more searches. Finally, bloggers place LOFT at the Join phase. They have listened to their customers effectively are a key part of their ambassador network and defined topics that are interesting to her. Now, they are joining into dialogue, - dubbed the LOFT girls - and are featured but they have yet to really lead a big conversation or facilitate direct connections in both their online videos within facebook in an overarching way. To move to the next level, I recommend they choose as well as on their main photos page. LOFT overarching themes for their conversations so they build upon one another from has done an outstanding job reaching day to day instead of ending in detached short spurts. out to these bloggers individually and acknowledging them from their pages.
  5. 5. 8 9 Competitor Digital SWOT Analysis Parent Company with Sub-brand Benchmarking More closely Competitor Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities ThreatsAnalyzing the Competition LOFT and all three competitors have separate social pages from aligned charity: Anthropologie Expensive Diversified Misconceptions Bedtime Stories their parent company brands, but they have varying fanbase price point product line about fairtrade Ipad app forThree competitors that also sizes between the parent and subsidiary pages (Exhibit 3). excludes could continue policies and finding clotheshave parent brands that also Anthropologie and Banana Republic have been successful on everyday to expand sweatshops both facebook and twitter, but not as successful as their parent woman, nicherun a line of stores include: companies. This illustrates an opportunity area to leverage focus crossover fans from one brand to another, even with different Banana Ecommerce No prominent international Fragmentation target segments. Republic shopping cart product stores can in digital, harderAnthropologie is linked to their ratings from grow online to reach men other brands customers presence and women(owned by Urban White House Little Black Book Few fans on F-commerce The phrase Social Mention AnalysisOutfitters). is a free social media dashboard that provides Black Market loyalty program Facebook and store could black market Twitter emerge as can be metrics similar to those seen in Radian6 or Argyle Social. This Product reviews significant misconstrued inBanana Republic platforms provides commons Benchmarks for Banana Republic, on Facebook tab Limited 1st mover social space White House Black Market, and Anthropolgie against LOFT product range advantage(owned by Gap Inc), (Exhibit 2). This cursory analysis provides directional trends among this competitive set: COMPETITORSWhite House BlackMarket(owned by Chico’s) LOFT is not as “Strong” A LOFT branded Content Review as Banana Republic or hashtag does not show As discussed earlier, LOFT provides a wide range of services on their facebook page so Anthropologie but has the up until 8 on their list of their variety gets a A plus. However, the lack of blog and video when compared to the highest ratio of positive to most popular hashtags, beautiful, inspiration Anthropologist blog or fascinating behind the scenes at Banana negative comments unlike Anthopologie’s Republic, LOFT gets downgraded to a C. It is no longer cutting edge to be on facebook “#20daysofgifting” which is and twitter and to capture the attention of the millennial woman, LOFT needs to expandI selected these three LOFT has the longest average 1 on their list. This implies its content to include more dynamic topics than just products, styling options and polls.competitors to benchmark minutes per mention (a Anthropologie is really negative attribute) driving the conversation Social Media targetingnot only best practices in Passion and reach are similar topics. LOFT is targeted at a younger demographic, while Ann Taylor is a more sophisticated,retail specialty apparel, but across all four competitors older client. Yet, LOFT offers everyday discounts to teachers and Ann Taylor offersalso in leveraging resources One caveat to this analysis is discounts to students who are preparing for work. From a third party perspective, thiswithin the social space across LOFT’s facebook presence the noise from the word “loft”. strategy seems inverse to their target demographics. While teachers are strong supporterstwo distinct brands owned ranks 5th in its list of While this is the brand name, of LOFT and Ann Taylor may want younger clients, it would be better to harmonizeby the same parent company. contributing sites, displaced it is not as distinct of a word the two brands and understand who shops across both retail chains to offer targeted by even youtube where they or phrase as their competition promotions to the right consumer. Job status may not be a clear psychographic indicator do not have a corporate “Anthropologie” and thus of an online segment. Instead, LOFT should consider segmenting by shopper status presence (driven by bloggers) harder to track socially. (browser, stock-up seasonally, leave in the cart until paycheck), price sensitivity, or response to certain channels of marketing campaigns.
  6. 6. 10 RECOMME NDATIONS 11 Fit Personas in social Socializing the LOFT Cross-channel loyalty Suggestively Selling a media images program lifestyle LOFT is a fast follower in the LOFT images throughout the Retailers everywhere are Similar to the way a Fit by Persona trend among website, twitter and facebook struggling to reconcile their mannequin suggestively sells pants. Express, Victoria page often show a single multi-channel interactions an outfit in-store, the online Secret and others also have woman looking straight ahead with segments of consumers. social experience should female names attached to into the camera for effective While a dominant omni- suggestively sell a lifestyle and certain cuts of pants to help product merchandising. channel CRM technology full outfit options. Online,Consider the four ways Recommendations shoppers find their preferred While this may be helpful in has not yet emerged, LOFT retailers actually have accessof providing content Summary: style and encourage repeat a catalogue setting, it sends a can lay the foundation by to more content than in-storeonline: lonely message in the social reconciling data on users to build into that lifestyle purchase. LOFT should take this personal fit into the space. Coupled with the lack across e-commerce, social and image. By providing a wider Fit Personas inGenerate - producing of user posts on the default in-store. White House Black range of lifestyle content, social space and introduceoriginal, new content in landing pages, and the LOFT Market features their loyalty LOFT increases their expert social media Julie, Marisa and Kate to theirmultiple mediums girl appears lonely. Visual program Little Black Book on credibility for recommending fans. Make these personasAggregate - collecting individual contributors to the images are a strong signal their website and facebook clothing and accessories that Socializing the content wall. Perhaps fans for a brand and the lifestyle page, providing users a sign fit into that lifestyle.a plethora of content LOFT images could “follow” the one girl they it suggests; consider that the up opportunity while they are LOFT can improve itsfrom all over the web as channel has implications already in front of a computer. suggestive lifestyle content by prefer and receive even morea database of potential on the type of visual images LOFT could provide a similar assuming one of these four Cross-channel targeted product messages.interesting nuggets. used. Add more group shots loyalty program that allows content provider roles (see This would help planners loyalty program understand what percentage of and more “real world” photos. all shoppers, not just teachers, left sidebar). This helps theRate - enabling crowd- Fans don’t expect perfect to sign up online using their fan understand what type of their online community, andsourcing features where therefore potential ecommerce photos, evident by the negative facebook or twitter profile, content they can expect from Suggestively selling ausers are able to contributeopinions, likes and dislikes market, fit into one of their comments about excessive provide a QR code from their the brand and how to engage lifestyle pant styles. airbrushing, and thus would phone at the register and with the site. LOFT shouldand rank content to find like to see the LOFT women get loyalty points when you establish a consistent role in This new content allows forthose that appeal to the in more authentic, less perfect buy in-store. Build-a-Bear introducing relevant lifestyle more sharing across users,masses settings. has reversed this process content which will lead to suggesting tips and ideas for dressing your body type well. and provides purchasing increased credibility andCurate - editorializing a customers a special code at the permission to suggestively sell Also, users may prefer reviewscertain topic with expert register to activate when they clothing as a component of and recommendations fromknowledge, featuring get home and log in to the that lifestyle brand. other fans who have theirfewer hand selected pieces website. Either way, providing Curate is the most likely similar body type (Ex. pear orof high quality content a loyalty connection between position for an apparel retailer, apple) when buying online. Fit is a huge barrier to ecommerce on-line and off-line sales will but taking an alternative role apparel sales, so enabling users help LOFT stay relevant in the may separate LOFT from its to filter recommendations future. competitive set. down to those that share their body type and pant preference is crucial.
  7. 7. 12 13 GOOD IDEASIDEAS & TACTICS Not all good ideas come in the strategic form; sometimes its the execution and tactics that can change the look and feel of a brand. To that end, a list of small but effective tactics to employ across social media channels. Facebook Twitter Instagram is another photo sharing Promote campaigns for several days Leverage relevant trending topics technology like Flickr or Picasa, using consistent keywords. This using hashtags for popular, non but with a new twist. It adds a consistency helps readers recall trademarked content, such as “Black retro look and feel to photos and is campaigns in such a fast paced, friday” or “boss gift”. Resources likegaining popularity for using in- IDEAS & TACTICS dynamic content environment or store to document to facebook. 10 and is a best practice from can provide tips for what’s hot and million users in one year. Retailers Anthropologie over what time period. Kate Spade like Nordstrom are using this to Reach Block advertising through uses #popofcolor across multiple encourage photo sharing in-store. facebook during lull seasons to platforms. Be more shareable. While no grow total number of fans and build one can create a viral video, they sales during off peak times. This is All Social Mediums can create a shareable one that a best practice from Burt’s Bees, a Geotargeted marketing messages is more likely to become viral. successful facebook player, resulting are the next big thing. Make sure Create share buttons to allow the in their largest growth of fans. you are experimenting with location strong network of bloggers to use Despite the up front investment based technologies from Foursquare LOFT content forward in their cost, it was their most effective to Sidekick to even Footpath, a mall publications. Also, add share campaign. Be prepared to connect based technology that tracks where buttons to individual products on these new fans with fresh content or and how customers shop from their the website, such as facebook “share an ability to purchase. mobile signal. While some of these this”. Finally, consider layering Enable online catalogue viewing are not yet accepted by the masses, “small additives within and around directly from facebook tab. Many geo-targeting in sure to take off. videos to continue the path to point users may not want to jump in and Leverage itunes, spotify, and of purchase” as recommended by out of facebook’s environment. other music based social circles. BuddyMedia. “Well-placed links White House Black Market has Spotify is connected to facebook within a video or below the video created a dynamic catalog app and published to the newsfeed every player, and clickable paid lines laid within their facebook page. This time someone listens to a playlist. on top of a video, are great ways could be the foundation toward an Creating a LOFT playlist for the to drive traffic to websites directly f-commerce market, looming in the “desk to dinner” mentality is a sure from the video”. future. win with the LOFT consumer.
  8. 8. CRISIS MANAGEMENT 14 15Effective crisis management requires being Be on the offense UPCOMING TRENDS: NEW FACEBOOKprepared in the “off season” so to speak. To be Independent fashion bloggersprepared when the challenge arises, employ an have a higher listing on youtubeoffensive and defensive preparation approach. than LOFT, making it risky for direct attacks to the brand to rise to the top of the search engine listings. When currently searching LOFT, the first five hits are not While there are many new competitive set from a social enthusiast or classic rock lover. about the brand and some refer technologies launching every marketing perspective. The timeline is a new profile to inappropriate content. Patrol year, Facebook’s large user base type, adding layers to a user’s social channels in the mindset of and significant investment to The biggest change in the Open profile that allow you to view a disgruntled customer or identify becoming the one underlying Graph for marketers and brands pictures, video and content over areas of weakness where LOFT is platform under the web’s is the increased permission to time. Users will have complete not shaping the message. Even if content justifies a focus on how publish directly to a user’s wall control over what goes into resources are thin, it is important Facebook will set the pace for and timeline (an upcoming their timeline, such as their to be established in these channels how we interact socially in the feature). Instead of asking honeymoon or graduation. to prevent negative comments from future. permission every time, app This timeline feature will be gaining traction. At the very least, makers will only need to ask more prominent and provides set up a profile with links to where Facebook Open Graph: Timeline once and then be allowed to a new way to review content they can reach someone. & Gestures connect to a user’s open graph. posted by friends. In September 2011, Facebook In the future, brands will be Be on the defense announced their plans to able to leverage their users and In addition to the timeline LOFT had some negative press launch Open Graph, an post directly within a user’s feature, the popular “Like” about the FTC case of alleged easier platform for developers open graph in order to reach button will evolve from a blogging incentives that were to create custom features. more consumers. single endorsement to a variety undisclosed. While you don’t want Facebook divided the types of of choices including “Read”, to spread the news, a simple press apps that will be built on its From an analytics “Watched”, and “Listened”. This release or statement is expected new platform into four buckets: perspective, companies such open graph will let developers from PR to manage the issue. This Communication, Games, Media as MicroStrategy will offer create new buttons of their could be provided on the corporate and Lifestyle. For example, tools like Wisdom, a social choice, possibly “Challenge” site via a link, but credibility is media apps include things analytics application that will in games or “Cheer” for enhanced if it comes from a higher like Spotify, which post to the go beyond the demographic supporting friends. Again, this ranking employee directly to fans. user news feed in real time, data that Facebook and Google flexibility will lead to a more Consider that those looking for signaling to other users that the analytics currently provide. By customized and fragmented a reaction, such as news sources activity is currently happening. scanning the social graph of social space where brands or bloggers or even investors, These four buckets will help all the friends and content and will need to evaluate the most may be able to spread the correct delineate the types of content products you “like” “watch” or effective, strategic move for information if provided with the with which users associate. “want”, they claim they will be their brand and customers. right communication tools. Identifying with one type over able to create psychographic another could change a brand’s profiles such as outdoor
  9. 9. 16 17 Impact on LOFT Business Currently, LOFT is enjoying success on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, but as users Imagining it is 2014 and the Timeline and Gesture features are drift to more niche platforms, LOFT should identify new strategic platforms for connecting firmly established, LOFT could enjoy these interactions and with users. LOFT earns applause for using social media to address several functions includ-Facebook & LOFT benefits in the social space: ing customer service, HR, marketing, etc but needs to elevate their dialogue along the IMC squared model for engagement to remain important. In addition, user experience repairs will Analytics: A Wisdom CRM dashboard that crawls enhance the fan experience in the short term.The Facebook Open the LOFT fanbase for keywords, likes and graphGraph will change the connections that represent the LOFT shopper. For Four recommendations for improving their social presence include: 1) making their fit per- example, anyone posting about an interview, using sonalities more dynamic content creators, 2) adapting visual images to the social channel togame for marketers LinkedIn to search for jobs and liking articles about appear more friendly and approachable 3) laying the foundation for a cross-channel loyaltywithin facebook and job tips can now be sent a specific coupon for “Buying program that can be used for CRM and 4) Suggestively selling a lifestyle by providing contentacross other, emerging an interview outfit”. Combine this with the timeline in one of the four established roles.channels. LOFT has feature and LOFT can predict the market size ofthe opportunity to potential grads each year who will be job seeking as In the long term, as social media continues to evolve, LOFT must experiment with new tech-experiment with this well. nologies to remain competitive and break through the increasing content clutter. One up andnew platform before coming technology is the Facebook Open Graph, including timeline and gesture features. By Lifetime Milestones: LOFT can use the timeline devoting time to developing an identity on this new concept within facebook, LOFT can leap-others have gained a feature to embed itself into the “big moments” within frog their apparel competitors are both retain and grow their fans. By using these new fea-significant first mover users lives. By creating a way to allow users to plot tures and technology to deliver a deep level of social interaction, LOFT will grow their overalladvantage. a significant life achievement on their timeline (Ex. brand loyalty and increase their potential for profit growth in the coming years. currently 36 graduation, job interview), LOFT can become a LOFT Outlet stores throughout the U.S. symbol for milestones and increase their awareness. CONCLUSION Companies that haveestablished a presence Content recycling: Not all content has to be created by the limited number of LOFT employees. As LOFTand collaborated with users like content and connect via the social graph,facebook such as LOFT can read and explore interesting users contentSpotify, are reaping and publish it again as their own. This strategy willthe benefits in the attract like minded users and decrease the burden todigital space with high create fresh content daily.volumes of articlesin the press and Gestures: LOFT could patent or brand the “Styled It” button and become the standard for assemblingincreasing volume of individual pieces into an outfit. This small tactic couldusers. change the perception of the brand from a seller of goods to a curator of goods. Other ideas include using the LOFT name as a button, using their initials as an abbreviation for short term appreciation of content such as “Love On For Today”.
  10. 10. JENN 804.387.4359