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Online electrical retailer Appliances Online (now rebranded as AO) has seen impressive growth on its Facebook page, recently hitting the milestone of 1m likes. 

According to AO, it is also making Facebook sell, something not all retailers have managed to do

It has seen a 60% in branded search traffic, which has led to a 58% uplift in sales driven by brand terms. 

To find out the secrets behind this growth, I've been asking AO Social Media Manager Yossi Erdman...

What's the secret of a great Facebook page for an ecommerce site? 

Find the content on your site that people will connect to. Whether (in our case) it’s strange things about what you have in your fridge, the food that you like to cook in your new oven, or anything else related to your area of expertise that you think people will want to engage with.

We are lucky that we sell products that everybody needs (sometimes more than you can imagine). 

The growth in Facebook fans is pretty impressive. What's the secret? 

A mix of good content with smart advertising. There is no shame in using Facebook advertising and it’s something we are very proud of doing well. But Advertising itself doesn’t work, you need to create really good content.

We chose to have competitions for products we sell (this way we can talk about/advertise our products simultaneously), and created engaging content around them. 

We answer personally to every customer or fan talking to us, and we believe that level of engagement is what makes people come back to us. If you browse our page you will see faces first (it is FACEbook after all!) and then you might see products.

We believe that’s what people want to see, some behind the scenes, some funny things and our social media team embarrassing themselves. 

How have Facebook ads and sponsored stories worked for you? What has / hasn't worked? 

We invest a lot into Facebook advertising. The most useful method is page post sponsored stories for desktop and mobile. But in order for that to work you have to create very good content on your page posts.

That’s why we have a great graphic designer working on our social content, and we have a video studio that we can use when we want to create pictures with our products. 

How has Facebook boosted brand search traffic? How have you measured this? 

As mentioned on our Facebook case study, we saw 60% uplift on branded searches. We believe Facebook has driven most of this change.

More people are now searching for ‘Appliances Online’ instead of just ‘washing machine’, but it’s not because they are just our Facebook fans (click ‘like’ once and that’s it), but because we focus a lot on our engagement with them and make sure our fans see some quality content from us at least once a week. If we don’t have good content we don’t bother our fans.

You promote Facebook and other social profiles prominently on the site. What was the thinking behind this and how has it performed? 

As we are relatively unknown brand, we thought it could have a really positive effect on potential buyers to see their friend’s faces on our site, if they have recommended us on Facebook. 

We get really good feedback from customers almost on a daily basis, so we decided to show it on our website header as well. Now when a potential customer comes to our website, they can see our latest feedback directly from Facebook and if they’re connected to Facebook at the time they might see some of their friends.

With more than a million fans on Facebook there is a really good chance one of this visitor’s friends already recommended us. We see 10% uplift in conversion when people visit our site when they are connected to Facebook (and can see their friend’s name). 

How many people are in the AO social team? How often are you posting on Facebook? How have you found the best frequency? 

We now have four people on our social team, but we also have a designer who works with us on a daily basis, and all of our customer service queries are handled by our correspondence team which has 10 people.

So lots of people in the business are involved in managing the Facebook page and the social media, but that’s the only way you can respond to every customer personally and make sure people get an answer as fast as possible.

Every week we post things on a different frequency. In general we really don’t like to spam our fans, so we will never post once or twice a day, always less than that.

Many retailers have struggled to make Facebook 'sell'. What have you done differently, and how do you measure sales/conversions from the site? 

As an online retailer, we decided we have to invest in this platform and make it right, that’s why there are so many people in the business involved in the process of creating content and talking to customers, and that’s why we have decided we need to advertise on Facebook and make it run properly (I know you have already seen at least one sponsored post from us, haven’t you? J) 

We measure direct sales from Facebook, but we mostly focus on branded searches. We don’t believe people see our ad on Facebook and then come and buy a washing machine immediately, as it’s a purchase you need some time to consider.

However, we do see more people search for Appliances Online than ever before and believe Facebook has a lot to do with it. Using Facebook for our brand is definitely the right thing to do.

Measuring by the great feedback we get there from our customers (or customer to be), and the amount of interaction we have, we’re definitely doing the right thing.

Graham Charlton

Published 21 May, 2013 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Rike Behrendt, Senior Acquisition Manager at FreeAgent

I have been admiring Appliances Online's social media for a long time. You guys had me when you ran the campaign 'Guess how much beer's in this fridge' to win either the beer or the fridge during the European Championship. Have been following you ever since :)
Though I haven't bought any appliances from you, I enjoy your content.

Well done!

Rike

about 3 years ago

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Stuart Witts

How Appliances Online went from 2,500 to 1m Facebook fans in just two years... Sounds like they spent a bucket load of cash on Facebook advertising.

about 3 years ago

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Elliot Jones

I've known of Appliances Online for years, and have been watching their social activities develop over time. It's great to see that a relatively simple, consumer-led and structured strategy has had such a positive impact. And it's clearly so much more than just spending cash on Facebook - as they reiterate in the post, it's about quality content! You'd soon stop promoting posts if you got no reaction from your audience or negative vibes! seems to me the creative-led approach is a social-winner...

about 3 years ago

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Confused

1 million fans is almost as many as Cadbury had this time last year, can we really be sure that no likes have been purchased?

“60% uplift in searches for ‘Appliances Online’ via search engines increasing in direct correlation with growth in Facebook fans” – there’s no info on what period this covers (unless I’ve misread the article and case study), or whether the 60% increase was spread evenly across the months or occurred in the final month (was there a seasonal uplift that would have occurred anyway, regardless of FB activity?). Correlation is not causation.

Let’s be a bit more questioning of these stats!

about 3 years ago

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David

A quick glance at the Facebook page will show just why there has been such significant growth. Attractive competitions. As Yossi says they are lucky in that everyone needs these appliances, so a competition to win one or some is very attractive and has great shareabiltiy. I am not sure though that giving away £1000 worth of goods on a regular basis is the same as having great content. Anyone with the budget could create a similar following by giving away valuable, desirable freebies non stop. Great content gets engagement without giving away £1000 every week! I wonder how many fans they would have if they relied solely on content and not competitions. My guess, nowhere near as many.

But hey, if you have the money to do that and its working, more power you.

about 3 years ago

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igmorrison

Would love to know how much they've invested in Facebook adverti$ing....

about 3 years ago

Jonathan Hudson

Jonathan Hudson, Digital Marketing Manager at Argos

Fascinating case study, I think it's impressive how AO have used Facebook to develop into a known brand, the power of being front of mind when customers are making purchase decisions. Agree with the other comments about the amount of money spent.. but maybe compared to other traditional methods of advertising it's a lesser investment. I also think it's great how they've got away from the old 'what's the value of a fan' question and approached Facebook ads in a different way to drive traffic from other sources.

about 3 years ago

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Phil Hammett, Digital Marketing Manager at The Share Centre

Great brand and social media success story - well done AO.

Go Pro cameras are another small brand that has grown massively through clever use of social media at a more basic level.

about 3 years ago

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Will

I find it pretty unbelievable that Facebook would use Appliances Online for a case study when they are cheapening the platform so much with their misleading posting tactics.
From what I have seen they rely mostly on starting posts with "Click LIKE if you want to win..." in order to trick a certain percentage of Facebook users into thinking that they can enter the competition just by liking the post. And as we all know more likes equals more reach and more reach equals more competition entries!

Its the kind of strategy that Facebook should be cracking down on instead of celebrating.

about 3 years ago

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Paul

Fair play to AO, they have executed a good campaign and have the result to back it up - even if there is a more than a little assumption in the workings out.

I have to agree with Will to an extent, on why Facebook use this as a case study. Case studies of great social media where they have given away £££'s of stuff are 10 a penny. A case study like this provides no collateral to a put in front of decision maker to encourage them to take social media seriously and will only serve to enforce the thinking that you've got to give prizes away.

about 3 years ago

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Phil Hammett, Digital Marketing Manager at The Share Centre

Fair point Will.

I guess the flipside is that any weakness in product or service will be exposed quite quickly, causing the campaign to fall flat on it's backside regardless of the content, creative or tactics?

about 3 years ago

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Raj Patel

As with anyone who has run a decent sized Facebook competition knows - several of the entries are from fake accounts!

There are a few articles which suggest the figure to be more than 50%! - Why? Because there are massive networks out there which share these competitions and these networks create multiple accounts to increase their chances of winning.

So assuming 50%, 500k reach is still very good! But as one of the posters mentioned, it's easy to gain likes when you're offering something expensive for free! With a content strategy alone they would have struggled to get even 100k likes!

And to put a nail in their coffin - has anyone checked their last 5 years accounts? They have essentially made a massive loss on a £200m turnover last year and previous years although made a small profit their shareholder fund is in negative territory!

But they're in a much better position to grow now with an established brand.

about 3 years ago

Robert Arwel Hughes

Robert Arwel Hughes, EMEA Sales Director at Shoutlet

Great to see another brand truly embracing the social age. Who cares whether they paid for their success using advertising or not.

Social brings brands and consumers closer by offering a 2 way dialogue. It appears as though they have worked hard on developing a social presence that allows them to understand their customers and moreover they are turning what are everyday dull products (appliances) into something fun and exciting showing passion for what they do. Good show AO. Keep it up!

almost 3 years ago

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Dessy Anaiwan, Appliances Connection

This post described so much information and secrets about Appliances online, which is online store for home appliances . For traffic and much more customers they definitely have to spend money, its a reality !!

Home and Kitchen appliances Online store : http://appliancesconnection.com/

over 2 years ago

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