Weaving Data into Personal Interactions

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Weaving Data into Personal Interactions
Weaving Data into Personal Interactions

Lion Brand currently has about 24,000 followers there. The strong response the company has received on Pinterest reflects the broader value the platform offers to crafting companies. “DIY & Crafts” is the second most popular category of images that Pinterest users share on their Pinterest boards and show each other. Crafting marketplace Etsy.com is the second biggest source for pins, according to Repinly, Pinterest's official directory and tracker of the website's statistics.

“Crafting is huge on Pinterest,” says Karen Leland, president of Sterling Marketing Group and author of Entrepreneur Magazine's Ultimate Guide to Pinterest for Business. “With 72% of Pinterest users being female, and the average age between 25 and 54, you get a lot of crafting going on there.”

She adds that Lion Brand has been able to keep its audience interested because it has learned to balance its educational and marketing messages. She says that companies using Pinterest should break down their posts to be 40% motivational or inspiring, 40% instructional or educational, and just 20% promotional in any way.

“Pinterest is about storytelling through pictures, and a company like Lion Brand is tapping in to a trend we are now seeing toward the ‘visual Web,'” Leland says. “The Web is increasingly based on pictures more than text.”

The popularity of Pinterest and other visual social media websites has spurred Lion Brand to boost the visuals of its other marketing channels, redesigning its newsletter in the past year to better showcase designs and “be more like Pinterest,” Rabinowitz says.

With the steady stream of content the company has produced, Lion Brand has amassed more than 5,000 free patterns on the website, as well as hundreds of articles, stories, and how-to's through its blog. This has led to another recent goal: strengthening the  company's SEO efforts, including stronger tagging and search capabilities. Lion Brand is investing more effort in making sure that when individuals search on the company website or Google for, say, wedding craft ideas, Lion Brand will be one of the top choices.

Analytical importance

As important as customer feedback and individual comments continue to be for Lion Brand, as the number of available platforms and marketing channels has grown, social analytics that are more quantitative have become an increasingly important addition to the company's arsenal.

“We have questions that can be only answered by digging into the numbers,” Rabinowitz says. “You really need everything.”

The company began measuring this with the portfolio of free tools provided by the social media platforms themselves, including Google Analytics, Pinterest, and Twitter, as well as Facebook Insights.

“We used a lot of free tools, but as time went on, we sensed we needed to use something more sophisticated,” Rabinowitz says. “There is so much data that we really don't go to the paid tool until we feel like we really need to get to the next level.”

The next level for the company has been to partner with analytics firm Social Annex, which provides Lion Brand details about the ROI of its Facebook and Twitter activity. This includes information on who are the company's most-engaged Facebook fans, and which posts are generating revenue.

Lion Brand uses Social Annex for contests and sweepstakes, which “they have been extremely successful with,” according to Al Lalani, head of client success for Social Annex. Lion Brand is currently running a contest in which those who sign up for the Weekly Stitch are entered for a chance to win nine balls of the company's Baby Yarn.

Because Lion Brand offers direct e-commerce sales through its website, where customers can order products immediately after viewing them, the company has a built-in advantage when trying to track the impact of social media marketing. For a company engaged in as many social media channels as Lion Brand, being able to apply metrics to each interaction has proven especially valuable, as Social Annex helps the company drill down to the dollar value of a Facebook like or a retweet.

“In our reporting we can say, ‘This is John Smith, he has produced $381 in revenue and two referrals on Facebook, nothing on Twitter, and maybe $78 on Pinterest,'” Lalani says.

These analytics, in combination with the marketing team's personal observations, have helped the team determine what sort of content its customers enjoy the most. For example, last Halloween the Lion Brand Facebook page exploded when it posted an image of a knitted skeleton complete with knitted organs that was shared thousands of times by fans.

“When we [post] really quirky images, outside the realm of anything you've seen, we get a lot of shares,” Rabinowitz says.

These fun and unusual postings are balanced with more practical offerings, such as how-to videos like “how to crochet a button” or “how to style a shawl.” The more useful content generally does better on the company's Pinterest page or blog. Twitter has proven a better place for engaging followers who are discussing knitting and crocheting, and sharing comments from others, rather than posting new content.

Just as each platform works well for particular types of content, each is also ideal for differing audiences. For instance, Lion Brand's Twitter followers tend to be younger and respond to “edgier posts,” Rabinowitz says. “Facebook followers are a little more down-to-earth, family oriented, we know they tend to respond more to crochet,” she says.

The marketing team holds weekly meetings to discuss the performance of each of these platforms, potential content for the week or month ahead, and any articles or other inspirations they have encountered in the previous week.

“We don't just do our jobs every day; we consider it our jobs to do something more innovative and different and to grow our following and audience and community,” Rabinowitz says. “With social media, you can't stop learning.”

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Alex Palmer, freelance journalist and author

Alex Palmer is a freelance journalist and author living in Brooklyn, and has been writing

for Direct Marketing News since 2010 (his first story was on a study about how marketers need to improve their customer segmentation). In addition to his work for DMN, he has written about business, travel, and New York for titles including Adweek, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, The Hollywood Reporter, the New York Post, Publishers Weekly, Time Out New York, and more. Power naps, spicy pickles, and long fl ights are a few of his favorite things. Palmer is also the author of the books Weird-o-pedia: The Ultimate Book of Surprising, Strange, and Incredibly Bizarre Facts About (Supposedly) Ordinary Things and Literary Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Literature. You can find him on Twitter @theAlexPalmer and at www.alexpalmerwrites.com

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