Making social sexy: Ann Summers discusses frequency, engagement and how it handles social

Making social fit in with the offline image of your company can be difficult. Sophie Barton, PR and social media manager for Ann Summers, discusses platforms, frequency and engagement.

It is so important to build a relationship with your social community – talking about products and promotions too heavily will result in customers tuning out, so having an understanding of what they like to talk about is vital in order to keep engagement levels up. We try to keep our posts and content exciting, compelling and topical to engage with our followers – current campaigns, trends, relevant news as well as new product launches make up much of our activity. Currently, we use Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, although we do have plans to launch the brand on Instagram in the short term – we are always looking for new opportunities and considering other platforms, however our priority at the moment is to continue to build our brand presence on the platforms we currently use. We have an incredibly engaged audience on social media, so we like to share additional content with them in order to keep them engaged with our campaigns, for example behind the scenes clips and photos from our shoots. Our customers like to communicate with the brand and we often receive messages from followers who want advice, whether that be on product purchases, sex tips or relationship advice – they even ask us to post dilemmas on their behalf so that other followers can advise or make recommendations.On an average day, we post to the Facebook page around three times a day, whereas Twitter newsfeeds move more quickly, so we post more regularly as we have less time to grab the attention of the user. In terms of quantity, engagement is higher on Facebook than it is on Twitter – this is largely due to the enriched content that we can post on Facebook which is more in line with our brand. The scope for engagement on Twitter is much wider, and by its nature it is more public than our Facebook page – but it also has the potential for a personal touch. The lifespan of content on Twitter is shorter and behaves much more like a real-time conversation which therefore requires more interaction to keep the conversation going. In contrast, a post on Facebook can be left to develop organically. All of our content is carefully considered and we always ensure that our posts stay on brand, being witty and relevant without offending. For example, our daily #SEXFACTOFTHEDAY Twitter posts always get high levels of engagement as they are often quite amusing, unusual facts – for example, ‘A penguin only has one orgasm a year’ got the highest number of retweets we have seen within minutes. We do post about new product launches which naturally includes sex toys and accessories as well as lingerie, however we make sure that we stay on brand with our content – as a responsible retailer, we always consider what is appropriate across any of our marketing campaigns and as we take an integrated approach to what we do the same applies to our social media platforms. I do think the rise of ‘mummy porn’ has had an effect on how willing people are to open up and speak about sex, although we already had a very engaged social audience prior to the Fifty Shades phenomenon last summer. What it did do though was give us the opportunity to engage with the more nervous customers to introduce them to our brand and reiterate that we are the number one destination for all things sexy. As a part of our overall joined up creative process, we use the same ‘Ann Summers’ tone of voice as well as communicating the same overall marketing message across each of the social media platforms that we currently use. This is not to say, however, that we do exactly the same thing on each channel – we form separate week-to-week strategies and plans for Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest and we recognise, apart from the obvious difference with the 140 character limit on Twitter, that the functions of and the opportunities offered by the two channels are different. Ultimately our goal is to offer a multichannel experience and drive traffic either to our website, stores or to parties – however we recognise the importance of building a relationship with our social media followers and customers as well as conveying a brand tone and image that is aspirational, fun and sexy. We understand the need to strike the right balance between brand-led storytelling, product promotion and listening to our fans and followers – social media shouldn’t be used solely as a platform to push promotions and showcase product. Our social media platforms give us great insight into what our customer wants and what that they like to do, and by listening to them and gathering their feedback we can ensure that our content stays relevant. By focusing on building a community, as well as becoming a part of our customers’ everyday life by appearing regularly on their newsfeed, we can take them on an engaging journey and give them the true Ann Summers experience.This interview is part of our social media supplement, out on 2 August.

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