Teri’s take: Macy’s social commerce strategy & Instagram’s new suggested posts
We’re back with this month’s top social media and brand marketing news. In August, we’re diving into the expansion of Macy’s Style Crew, the current state of retail, and Instagram’s newest feature. Keep reading for short summaries of this month’s news as well as our take.
The article: Macy’s doubles down on social commerce
Macy’s is expanding its Style Crew ambassador program, which was formerly exclusive to employees, to applicants from outside the company. Applicants who are selected as online ambassadors can promote Macy’s products by either posting affiliate links on their own social channels or on the Style Crew platform on Macy’s website to receive a 5% commission. Macy’s is not placing a limit on the number of ambassadors it will appoint, and according to Marc Mastronardi, Macy’s Chief Stores Officer, the retailer is open to influencers, micro-influencers and even regular customers recommending products to their personal social contacts. He says, “It’s really about just being able to have a platform that allows you to talk about and be passionate about our products and our business, and to be incentivized and rewarded for doing that.”
Brand ambassadors are individuals who are paid to not only promote a brand but to embody the brand they are endorsing. If social media has taught us anything, it’s that we all have the ability to be influential and advocate for the brands we love. Macy’s decision to unlock the potential of all loyal Macy’s shoppers, regardless of their follower count, is a peak into the future of commerce which leans heavily on the fact that consumers are demanding inclusive, more personalized marketing. And what’s more personal than a recommendation from someone you already follow on social? With the overwhelming amount of businesses to choose from, having someone you relate to tell you where they love to shop is more powerful than any traditional advertisement.
The article: US retail sales continued to improve in July
According to advance estimates released last week by the US Census Bureau, US retail and food services sales continued to recover in July, increasing to $536 billion from about $529 billion in June. Sales were also up 2.7% over July 2019’s figure of nearly $522 billion. Although sales improved, the number was muted compared to the month-over-month increases in both May and June of 18.2% and a revised 8.4%, respectively. Sales were at their lowest point in April, the first full month following the closure of businesses to limit the spread of COVID-19. The latest monthly figure is up year over year, demonstrating that at least on a macro level, retail and food service sales are normalizing. A clearer picture should emerge in September when August’s numbers are released.
Rest assured brands — despite social unrest, unemployment, and the still rampant pandemic, consumers are shopping. Coming from a (recovering) shopaholic, it comes as no surprise that consumers’ need for retail therapy is at an all time high. As consumers grow accustomed to the new norm of staying at home, they’re spending money on necessities like food and household items, as well as on products that bring them joy. For instance, many people are purchasing tie-dye loungewear, bucket hats, and painting sets. Some footwear brands are also seeing a sudden uplift in sales of shoes with pop colors and prints, rather than neutral-colored, everyday shoes.
Another reason for the boost in sales, especially in the electronic industry, in July could be due to the start of back-to-school shopping season. An AspireIQ survey found that 76% of people still plan to, or have already, gone back to school shopping. However, nearly half are not sure if they or their children will be going back to a classroom.
The article: Instagram is adding suggested posts to the main feed
Instagram recently introduced “Suggested Posts,” a new feature that will show posts from people you don’t follow on your main feed. Traditionally, the Instagram’s main feed has been reserved for content that users have opted into, besides sponsored posts from advertisers. Now, Instagram is allowing organic content in the main feed that users have not opted into. Although this feature sounds similar to Instagram Explore, suggested posts will reportedly offer a different set of content.
How annoying is it when you check your Instagram app for the fourth time in 30 minutes only to see a “you’re all caught up” message? Well now this is a thing of the past. You may have already noticed that Instagram is taking one more note from TikTok’s book by surfacing suggested content on the newsfeed. Although those who have been vocal about the new feature are generally unimpressed, we’re optimistic that it’s a feature that will just take some getting used to. Having another feed of content, aside from the Explore Page, gives content creators and brands the opportunity to get their posts in front of a targeted audience that might not otherwise come across their page. As for the average Instagram user, there is now an endless feed of content to scroll through when you need to pass the time.