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Inside the Industry with ASOS Head of Social Media

Written by
Published date
17 October 2014

The Inside the Industry series at LCF this week welcomed ASOS Head of Social Media, Hannah Craik. Discussing the importance of social media in every aspect of the consumer purchase journey, Hannah gave an inspiring talk about using social to drive loyalty and sales.

ASOS is a global online fashion and beauty retailer selling over 65,000 branded and own label products to fashion forward twenty-somethings, and in just nine years has gone from a niche get-the-look website to a massive internet phenomenon.

Hannah started her talk with the uplifting point that:

“There is always going to be someone really enthusiastic about what you do.”

She explained that the most powerful part of social media is its ability to reach a huge amount of people. With approximately 20 million photos posted to Instagram every hour and young people spending 80% of their time online on apps, social media is the perfect way to engage with ASOS’s twenty-something fashion conscious customer. Hannah went on to split her talk into what she believes are the three most important areas for social media, the process of inspiration, the buying process, and post-purchase.

It is interesting to think about what inspires us as consumers to buy something and how this might have changed due to the influence of social media. In the past, consumer inspiration used to be almost completely controlled by high-end retailers, and Instagram totally revolutionised that. Where word-of-mouth used to be an uncertain and immeasurable process, now people can instantly share their purchases with one another.

Hannah explained:

“More people have access to, and feel they are an inspiration to others.”

It’s evidently true that people share their purchases, ideas, and styles with one another these days, most of us would definitely admit to doing it. What we may not have noticed however, is how we are influencing each other in such a way that has never been seen before. For brands, the ‘see it, want it’ impulse-buy motivation can now be capitalised on.

It is for this same reason, with consumers inspiring each other, that ASOS try not to look like a brand. Hannah explains that ASOS want their social media messages to feel like just another part of someone’s news feed, not being disruptive or appearing out of place. For example,  the brand therefore makes sure all of their photo uploads have been taken on a smartphone, making their brand as human as possible.

This same idea applies throughout the customer buying process. ASOS regularly updates their website to make it as easy to navigate as possible. Hannah has no problem with recognising that ASOS still has a long way to go when it comes to customer purchase satisfaction but explains that the brand uses online data to improve the buying experience, using Facebook data and buying history to give recommendations that relate to how each customer feels about themselves.

Hannah explains that ASOS’s main goal is keeping the customer happy throughout their experience, if the customer doesn’t get their order on time or doesn’t receive the right size then they won’t give good feedback, and the main thing to remember with social is:

“The customer can now really complain.”

Reassuringly she explains that even though if you work in social media it is inevitable that the worst will happen at some point along the line, a silver lining on the opposite spectrum is that everyone now talks about what they bought. ASOS receives around 3000 contacts a day with customers tagging the brand on social media post-purchase. It is for this reason that ASOS believes in an advocacy lead approach to marketing.

Hannah ends her talk with a simple phrase:

“Social media democratised everything”

It appears that in today’s retail landscape it really is all power to the consumer.