When it comes to growing a business, social media matters.
Leveraged to a business’ advantage, social media can be a key to success in consumer adoption, conversion and retention. For SMBs, social media has become a seamless way to build a following and a community around a brand and to provide customer support, marketing and communications outreach.
The role social media can play for SMBs is exemplified in the case of Spearmint LOVE, the online baby and children’s clothing and accessories retailer recently selected to sit on Facebook’s 2017 U.S. Small Business Council.
In an interview with PYMNTS, Spearmint LOVE CFO John Lott spoke to the recent news, the leap from mommy blog to eCommerce and how the company leveraged social media to become one of the fastest growing online retailers in its segment.
Spearmint LOVE began simply enough. Founder and CEO Shari Lott had spent four years building an online audience and social media following as a mommy blogger on SpearmintBaby, sharing design ideas and products she liked with her followers.
“Over time, she found she didn’t like writing about products,” Mr. Lott said. “She liked selling them.”
After signing up for a free trial on BigCommerce, Spearmint LOVE began with two SKUs, blankets Lott designed herself. They sold out within two weeks.
Over the next few years, Spearmint LOVE worked to amass a broad selection of products from emerging brands and leveraged social media, namely Instagram and Facebook, to maintain and grow its consumer base.
“We grew primarily by growing our audience on Instagram,” Lott said, “by building relationships with people in the industry, by having a truly authentic theme that resonated with our audience.”
Likewise, the company used social as a means to find new brands and products to feature.
“Believe it or not, one of the most effective tools we use when searching for brands is to use Instagram,” Lott said.
It makes sense. The online mom community represents a highly engaged and active base of consumers. It’s a community rife with social commerce potential.
Likewise, upstart digital brands built with social media in mind, especially the image-oriented Instagram, work not just to build a following but to cultivate and curate a distinct aesthetic style. Their followers engage with, respond to and (ideally)make purchases on that level.
That, and they seek out other, similar brands to follow.
In this way, Spearmint LOVE relied on their following not just to make purchases, but to make suggestions — to actively participate in the brand search and selection process.
“We can search visually,” Lott said, “and we can search through people who are tagging us, tagging brands, tagging relevant content and moms who we think have a really good sense of style.”
With these methods, Spearmint LOVE saw annual sales growth between 200 and 300 percent, Lott said. It quickly became a platform that joined together emerging baby and children’s brands with active, interested buyers.
Spearmint LOVE only began spending money on online advertising in February 2016, Lott said — again, via social channels. This is where, he said, things really began to take off. Across 2016, Spearmint LOVE saw annual sales grow 1,269 percent. The company had success not just on its own website, but also on its Facebook Shop.
Social commerce has largely been an uphill battle in established markets, which has been largely attributed to entrenched consumer purchasing behavior. But Spearmint LOVE saw enough success there and in the realm of social media ads to garner attention from BigCommerce and Facebook, Lott said.
The council, comprised of 11 U.S.-based companies, will be tasked to provide constructive feedback on new Facebook products, tools and solutions.
“It was quite an honor from our perspective,” Lott said, noting that from the exposure the position affords, Spearmint LOVE has been able to reach an even greater audience and speak to their company mission — that a “mom can start a business in this industry and not have to choose between a career or being with her kids. Our platform enables moms to build those businesses and for others to support those businesses through every transaction.”
Moving forward, Spearmint LOVE has more growth in mind. Long-term, the company aims to become the largest native eCommerce retailer in the baby and kids space.
“We’re on a mission,” Lott said, “to discover every great emerging brand in the kids business and to bring them to our active, engaged audience.”