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Becky Snowden from Furniture Choice on social media

Tim Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 10 November 2015

Social media marketing with Becky Snowden from Furniture Choice

Furnture Choice logo 150x150Social Media Portal (SMP) What is your name and what do you do there for Furniture Choice?

Becky: Iím Becky Snowden and Iím a digital marketing executive at Furniture Choice.

Itís a pretty wide reaching role but my main responsibilities are managing the companyís Social Media accounts, coming up with new content ideas and managing our blog EveryRoom.

SMP: Briefly, tell us about Furniture Choice

Becky: Weíre an online furniture store in the UK, we make quality furniture affordable.

That means we provide the best quality and widest choice of furniture for the price Ė and always with the best customer service.

And weíre growing: Ten years ago we started with a 5000 square feet warehouse and one employee. Now we have 150,000 square feet of warehouse space and 40 members of staff.

Photograph of Becky SnowdenSMP: Who are your target audience and why?

Becky: We donít focus on a specific audience group at the moment; we appeal to a broad cross-section of the UK population as we have a large variety of products.

SMP: What were you doing before you joined Furniture Choice and how did you snag your current job?

Becky: Before Furniture Choice Iíd worked in the furniture manufacturing industry in various roles from customer service to purchasing. Before that I was studying biomedical science at university. A bit of a sideways leap to marketing I know!

Iíve been at Furniture Choice for four years now, but I didnít start off in this role. To be honest, I got it through a combination of nagging and being in the right place at the right time. It was clear to me that we needed to start up social media accounts and begin to drive more long-tail traffic through our onsite content. When I first joined we had zero social media presence (which believe it or not wasnít all that unusual at the time) so I persuaded Tom our managing director to let me set them up and grow them and from there it sort of snowballed. Googleís Panda update meant we had to be on the ball with our content so we have a magazine-type blog called EveryRoom which is a hub for all kinds of information.

Itís going well, weíve had 40% more sales from Facebook than the same period last year.

SMP: Briefly, what does your job entail and what does a typical day look like?

Becky: My job covers everything social media from creating infographics for Pinterest to answering queries on Facebook to writing for, and editing the blog.

A typical day is tough to pin down but without fail I check all of our social platforms first thing to see if anyone has contacted us through the night. (Youíd be surprised how many people shop for their sofas at 3am!)
Then itís onto my always heaving inbox where I keep in touch with journalists, external agencies, copywriters and our creative web-dev wizards.

From there it could be brainstorming ideas for new product promotion, checking in on a photoshoot to take some sneak peek snaps or I could be out of the office at a design show in London Ė staying on top of the latest trends is vital for me and seeing innovative designers first hand is a great way of doing so.

SMP: What makes it a great job?

Becky: The variety! The changes in this field are huge and very frequent so it keeps you on your toes. There is always something new to learn or a different challenge to overcome. Thatís what I love about this job. Iím also lucky to work alongside a fantastic, enthusiastic team. To be honest, what we sell can generate so much creativity; I donít think Iíd enjoy it as much if I were trying to sell staples.

SMP: How did you initially attract users to site, social channels et al and how do you do it now?

Becky: We had early success with Facebook, but Pinterest is definitely catching up, and as we see decline from Google+ weíre seeing Polyvore start to join in the mix. I expect it to overtake Twitter in the amount of traffic it drives to our site by the end of the year. Itís not surprising considering how visual and image focused the web has become.

We try to follow these trends and make sure we go where our customers are. We noticed that a lot of customers were pinning our products so we added Pin buttons to all of our images to make it easier for them. Likewise weíve added as many products as possible to Polyvoreís catalogue so our customers donít have to.

SMP: What are the challenges that youíve encountered and how are you overcoming them in what you have been doing so far at Furniture Choice?

Becky: One of my biggest challenges is that our brand director is based out in Malaysia and heís one of the people I work with the most. Being in different time zones can sometimes mean stretching our working hours or having to wait till the other one wakes up before we can communicate. But with Skype and shared online documents weíve come up with ways to get around it. Hopefully the next time we have to meet face-to-face itíll be in Kuala Lumpur.

SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far?

Becky: Right now! Last month we launched a new website and brand update, our marketing team is expanding and the company is moving in a new direction - itís a very exciting time.

Furniture Choice website

SMP: What are the main social channels are you using, why and which are the most effective for Furniture Choice?

Becky: replies with    

Facebook is the most effective as it is the most versatile, and most popular with our customers. We can advertise to customers we think will love our products, and we do generate revenue from Facebook. Iím looking forward to being able to advertise on Instagram as this feature has just been made available to us recently via Facebook. A lot of our products are very visual and fashion focused so I think weíll fit in.

Pinterest is great because our customers use it too by pinning our products directly from our site. Buying an item of furniture is a considered purchase and a lot of people shop for a long time before they decide to buy. Pinterest helps them because they can set up a Pinboard with their favourite items from around the web.
We use it too of course, to create mood boards for inspiration. Itís an important ďdecisionĒ tool and we have seen conversions come from Pinterest. Our blog has a lot of inspirational posts and we find that creating a Pinboard alongside them is really effective.

People are creating Sets with our items every day over on Polyvore. Itís not a site we thought of immediately when focusing on social platforms however in the fashion and interiors world itís a big player, and after being bought by Yahoo earlier this year itís one to watch.

SMP: What sort of activity / engagement are you receiving across the social channels that you use and how do you create / sustain this?

Becky: We currently have over 8,800 likes on Facebook and depending on what activity weíre doing we get between 40 and 400 new likes per week. We are running display ads at the moment which do usually bump up our likes. Traffic from Facebook is also increasing, itís up around 15% this quarter.

Weíre seeing around 7,700 impressions per month on Pinterest at the moment with an average of 900 engaged. Iím looking forward to being able to add buyable Pins when theyíre rolled out across the UK.

On Twitter our tweets see around 7600 impressions per month, and itís somewhere we engage with other businesses as well as customers.

We have around 200 of our products on Polyvore and lots of people are using them in their own Sets. Weíre keen on sustaining this by adding new products and making sure we provide images as cut outs whenever possible. We also create Sets of our own for inspiration.

SMP: What do you see as your biggest challenges and opportunities for your sector and the competition that you have?

Becky: Furniture is a considered buy and it can take 6 months from inspiration to purchase. Being visible every step of the way and tracking how people behave leading up to placing an order is quite difficult to get right. We take a lot of orders over the phone Ė figuring out how they found us can be tough. Did they see a display ad or visit us organically? There are ways of tracking it, but itís tricky.

SMP: What is the most challenging part of building upon your brand presence in digital environments?

Becky: We have a great product and fantastic equity amongst customers, but wider awareness and reach are our biggest challenges. Googleís algorithm changes have affected us a lot as we compete with larger established players whose brands have an increasingly greater impact on search rankings. Unlike the big guys we canít rely solely on brand recognition (yet), so as a challenger brand we have to make sure we minimise any leakages in the sales cycle, optimise every inch of the customer experience and most importantly, be seen to be doing this.

That means that below the line our website has to be absolutely immaculate in terms of technical SEO, and we also track and test whatever we can, and manage conversion rate optimisation continuously.

For our customers, in addition to ensuring our product information is comprehensive Ė and increasingly visual Ė we also produce great content. Weíre passionate about what we do so producing furniture-related information and advice is something that we would do even if it wasnít such a help to us in SEO.

Underlying it all though, is a recognition that our brand is only as strong as our user experience. There is a commitment throughout the company to ensuring our end-to-end experience is absolutely first class. Our customer satisfaction is something we continuously promote, and weíre very proud of our independent reviews on Google, Ebay and Trustpilot.

Furniture Choice website

SMP: What do you think is going to be the most interesting aspect regarding digital marketing and social media for the next 12 to 18-months and why?

Becky: Peopleís reaction to targeted advertising is interesting to see. Do people find it useful or creepy if an advert is too specific? Will they leave certain platforms if they perceive them as ďselling outĒ and introducing ads such as Instagram for example? Itís going to be interesting to watch this unfold.

SMP: What are your top five predictions for digital marketing and social media for the next 12 to 18-months and why?

Becky: Social networks will start competing with one another more heavily to attract business and therefore ad revenue. Whether itís promising more people will see your ads, better targeting or cheaper cost, thatís to be seen.

Marketers wonít just focus on the end part of a customerís journey, theyíll want to have a presence every step of the way. You might have heard Google mention how important ďMicro MomentsĒ are. This means brands will be spending money on PPC ads aimed at clicks to their content rather than just their products. And distribution services such as Taboola and Outbrain will become a staple part of a digital marketing strategy.

Likewise, money will be spent on different platforms, even if they arenít where the conversions happen. For example, in our industry we know people browse for furniture on their phones but prefer to use a desktop to place an order. If we were to only focus on desktop because thatís where the measurable orders come from weíd be missing out on a lot of potential.

Targeting is going to become bigger and better, and in some cases potentially creepier. The amount of data collected on users will be used to show ads with so much more specificity. I can see display ads with my name on them not so far ahead. ďHey Becky, did you settle on a new phone case you were looking for earlier?Ē

If youíre on Ebay, (which many top brands are) even if itís only an outlet version your presence there will become more similar to a profile on social media. With itís borrowings from Pinterest and the ability to write guides and create collections, thereís plenty of social potential.

SMP: What are your top overall five digital marketing and/or social media tips and why?

If itís worth doing Ė do it well. You donít have to be on every single social platform if you donít have the resource or if it isnít relevant to your customers. Showing off a stale account looks worse than not mentioning it at all. Keep your target audience in mind, itís not necessary to be active on every social platform if your target audience arenít there or if your products donít fit in.

Join a community to keep each other up to date. Talk to friends or contacts in the industry and share knowledge. There is always something new happening in the digital marketing world and itís important not to be left behind.

Make sure the social media strategy fits in with and complements your marketing strategy as a whole. Any shared content should stay true to your brand.

Donít be too bland because youíre afraid of a little controversy. In my opinion, itís better if someone disagrees with what youíre saying than has no opinion of you at all.

This one is so simple but I see it missed out all the time. If youíre mentioning something or someone be sure to do it properly. For example, if youíre tweeting about a particular person, brand or place - make sure you @ them!

SMP: Is there anything else we should know, or is there anything that youíd like to share?

Becky: We may have just celebrated our 10th birthday but really weíve only got started: with an experienced team, many new product lines and increased investment in marketing expect to see more of Furniture Choice over the coming year.

SMP: Best way to contact you and Furniture Choice?

Becky: Call 0800 035 0070, email, any of the social platforms mentioned or visit our website:

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

Becky: A banana for breakfast Ė trying to be healthy!

SMP: Whatís the last good thing that you did for someone?

Becky: I volunteered to work this Sunday so my colleagues wouldnít have to

SMP: If you werenít working at Furniture Choice what would you be doing?

Becky: Definitely a professional video game tester (I wish!)

SMP: When / where did you go on your last holiday and why?

Becky: I visited Croatia because I have a good friend who lives in Zagreb, so I split my time between there and the Istrian coast. Itís a beautiful country!

SMP: Whatís the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

Becky: Put the kettle on for a cuppa

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

Becky: Super strength so that when someone parks in my spot I can just move their car out of the way!

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