The online rules have changed. Having a social media presence is no longer enough; you have to be valuable on social media.

Congratulations on launching your online business, but how many people actually know about it? 

We operate in an increasingly plugged-in and social world, and with so many brands making their digital presence known, it’s getting more and more difficult to cut through the online noise and stand out from the crowd.

The online rules have changed. Having a social media presence is no longer enough; you have to be valuable on social media. Secondly, it’s widely appreciated that the customer – and not the business – has the loudest voice on social media and therefore is the entity that can break or make a brand’s online image.

In recognition of these shifts, women’s fashion online retailer SHOWPO has focused on experimentation, frequently posting quality content to build a loyal online community.

Provide a valuable online experience

As the SmartCompany Web Awards 2014 Best use of social media winner, SHOWPO exhibits a virtual presence spread across a smorgasbord of social media sites.

“We wouldn’t post the same thing across all our channels,” says founder Jane Lu. “We also never advertise on social media simply to gain extra fans – every dollar spent is expected to generate a return on investment [ROI] – any ineffective ads are switched off straight away.”

As Lu highlights, it’s an ability to evaluate your online marketing ROI that can have a direct impact on future digital endeavours, highlighting what works and what might need to be reviewed.

In addition, it’s essential to learn the correct writing, posting and commenting etiquette on each platform so anything you produce is native to each individual platform and can help you steer away from direct selling, says Lu.

“Focus on providing good content that will build and retain a community. Live, love and breath social media – don’t palm it off to the intern. You need to understand it yourself! Use it to give your company a voice and make it personable.”

Do your own market research  

From day one, the SHOWPO team have treated social media as one of their most important marketing tools for testing and confirming their business model.

“Don’t sink a huge chunk of money into anything without testing first. The internet makes it so easy to validate your business decisions,” says Lu.

“Not sure whether a product will sell? Conduct your own market research and post a photo on Instagram to review the likes and comments.”

Not afraid to generate news ideas for the business, SHOWPO adopted a savvy marketing approach to gain a quick spike in followers with their 2011 ‘Face of SHOWPO’ modelling competition held on Facebook.

The prize was the opportunity to model for the fashion retailer, and the initiative saw their following grow from 3000 to 20,000. The risk paid off.

“If you’re not sure whether you should post something, just post it, and if it fails, you can delete it. Don’t be afraid to do something different.”

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