Together we pass 5,000 Likes!

Why do we care about Social Media, why is a fifth generation family soap business on Facebook? I (Chris) explain briefly why we've become more social and we 'like' it.

Together we pass 5,000 Likes!

Stephenson Personal Care (that’s us) is now the largest speciality soap base manufacturer in the World. Founded in 1856, A blend of experience in soap manufacture, and creative chemistry gives Stephenson Personal Care a unique position in the market, and the ability to respond rapidly to market trends and customer demands. However over the last 12 months or so we’ve become a little more social…here’s why, and what we’ve learnt…

About a year ago we set off on a journey to develop the Stephenson Personal Care brand globally. This involved a number of key steps- evaulate our packaging, create new branded labels and packaging, improve all online content, re-develop our website, and most importantly drive our Social Media to interact, engage, relate and inspire our customers around the world to make soap, with the end result being higher soap base sales either directly or from the Distributors appointed for targeted regions.

By developing Social we can combine our sales strategies, both push and pull. We have traditionally like most businesses that predominantly rely on a network of distribution used a push sales strategy to launch and introduce products to the market. This can be slow, difficult to track and we rely soley on re-sellers to market the product, promote and inspire sales.By having a growing social platform we use our traditional supply, but also help to create a pull in the market.

Here’s a serious looking illustration of how we try to use our Social to assist our traditional Distribution channels:

The Soap community (consumers) can see, interact (like, comment, share) and contact us / in turn our re-sellers to enquire about products seen on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest. We can directly communicate with customers buying small volumes of our product, usually handled by representatives where brand value and interaction can at times be lost. Alongside the soap making community we have worked on sampling, offering tips, advice, soap making recipes and creating engaging content that drives interest and as a result the pull demand. Here’s a little example of one of our simple blog soap making posts…

We’ve seen decent growth in our Social over the past few months, as we try to expand our reach with Blogs, a #soapandshare campaign, product giveaways and more video content. We’ve seen our Facebook community grow from 700 a few months ago to approx. 5,500 now (a growth of 7.8X in our fan base) but we’re only scratching the surface in terms of engaging with our customers worldwide, we still have a lot to learn and a lot more to achieve.

We have to admit after some work laying our social foundations it was a great feeling for us to pass 2,000 likes, it’s not a lot, but it felt good. We’re a small team and so we had a mini celebration reaching 2,000 Likes….

The key for us as a team is focusing on creating or finding content that people will connect to. For us it’s “How to make a Christmas Soap” or “What do you do with Jelly Soap” we get great reach with our Blog Recipes, and more over it keeps things fresh with new recipes every month, we engage our exsisting customers by creating a ‘Featured Soaper’ program where we ask some of our most successful customers to share their business success story to help others relate, and see the opportunity to develop their soap making from a craft into a fully fledged business and brand. We also use our social to giveaway new product, our fans love a giveaway, and we love and need feedback so it works both ways. We find being honest about the product, even if it’s not 100% finished, is vital in ensuring customers truly feel your working alongside them and they are part of the journey.

It’s incredible to think Marketing has changed so much, this is us doing our thing in 1917, now we’re working on likes, shares, tweets, and pins to develop our Business:

It’s pretty different today, we don’t suggest that Social is by any means the only way to promote and engage but we do believe it is a key way to communicate with the market, and expand rapidly with some investment. I was told that Social is always relevant “if you, your family or someone you know uses some form of socia media there is a fat chance your customers do too, so why not engage” that statement is pretty accurate.

We’ve developed and focused on a well balanced blend of good content with some targeted advertising. We’re happy to work on Facebook Ads (intially concerned) but your reach can at times be limited if you don’t invest…but be wary, spending or not, the key is relevant and engaging content. If you know your content is liked, promote and you’ll see the benefits, if your promoting posts aren’t getting impressions and the feedback you expect, it’s time to re-evaluate your content.

Love your content….is it relevant? Are we posting too often? Are we pushing too hard? Do we run to many giveaways? All questions we explore and re-visit on a weekly basis.

We chose to have competitions for products we make and sell, these are effective for us, and the outreach we can achieve even at our level is impressive, so long as you aline these posts with engaging content, and follow up for honest feedback on the products (usually what our winners make is then shared with our community)

We’ve also worked on developing the Personality of our brand and trust me for a soap making factory that can be pretty tricky! We work to answer each customer personally, promptly, and with a tone of voice that echos the way we feel as a team, so that any member can reply and our brand remains consistent. It’s not created, it’s simply who we are.

For 10 or more years we’ve been a name in the industry with very few faces and this is an aspect social can really bring value to not only your product but the company overall. As we have grown as a team, we have visited shows, taken parts in events and whenever possible we try to get our ‘faces’ in the pictures / posts / content, it gives a relationship value to our Social Media.

The best example of this is Yossi and the team over at AO.COM now over 1 Million Likes they have illustrated clearly (far above what we do) how a balanced social strategy can take help to send your business sky high.

By having a team that understand and use social it means we’re always talking, and thinking, (of course we sell too) but even out of work hours we’re looking to develop what we do. Here’s Olivia climbing the Three Peaks and still managing to create some content for us…

Anyway I believe that’s what people literally ‘like’ to see, some people behind the posts, faces behind the soap base they buy, some pictures of course are totally irrelevant and some just plain funny, so long as it’s balanced you’ll see great results.

So….in summary Why do we care about Social Media, why is a fifth generation family soap business on Facebook, we’re focused on:

Building our Reputation Online Developing a platform to Launch new products Creating a soap making community Develop Brand Loyalty Brand Tone / Consistency Added Value to both Business and Product Engage and Interact with our customers (whether they buy direct or not) Sharing our Soap Making Journey We’re still far from really nailing our social media, we have made the first few steps to engaging our community and developing our brand. We’re working hard on keeping things fresh, relating, inspiring and growing our community, hopefully this blog post can help you to develop and refine your Social Strategy.

We’ll see you at 10,000 Likes….join our journey just here.

Happy Soaping!

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