From Hockey to Haute: 5 Question With Rue La La’s Michael DiLorenzo

Posted by Taylor Haney on Wed, Jun 5, 2013

We are very excited to kick off a new theme for this month! June is all about social media, and we have some exciting posts coming your way. Starting it off is Michael DiLorenzo, Vice President of Audience Development at Rue La La, with a great post that shows how social media best practices apply regardless of industry. If you are interested in guest blogging e-mail me at taylor [at] mitx [dot] org.

Michael DiLorenzo Michael DiLorenzo is the Vice President of Audience Development for online retailer Rue La La. In addition to pioneering social media marketing for the NHL, on May 30 he celebrated five years of Tweeting (@TheRueGuy). A Boston-area native, he roots for the New York Rangers and Giants.

You started the social media marketing practice at the NHL, and now you oversee similar initiatives at Rue La La.  Should brands in such differing categories take vastly different approaches to social media?

If you are a brand using Facebook, Google, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube or any other social network, you’re really in the content business, a media company. So whether you are pushing hockey or handbags, you are shortening the distance between your brand and your consumers by serving them delightful content on the sites they most frequently traffic. 

Over time, this will build awareness, trust and authority for your brand, and, necessarily begin to drive consideration and intent.

But what about driving key outcomes such as demand sales or collecting email addresses?

Social is proving to be sufficiently different from search in terms of gauging consumer intent.  Liking Tory Burch on Facebook or Tweeting about Tory Burch isn’t always a great indicator of the consumer’s interest in a sales incentive, whereas a Google search for Tory Burch often is.  With that said, I do believe that brands that build high trust and authority through delightful content earn the right with their readers to insert relevant transactional opportunities at cautious intervals. But relevance and high value are key. 

At the NHL, we typically seized on touchstone moments to drive demand: “@Bruins fans!  Celebrate beating the @NYRangers by taking 30% off custom jerseys at the NHL Shop, plus free customization and shipping. TODAY ONLY.”

Such a message requires key elements like relevance (Bruins fans), high value (30% off), urgency (today only) and timeliness (referencing a recent win).

For now, display ads on social networks remain the place to acquire consumers at scale and economically; and owned media is best for building brand.

But I am especially interested to see how some of Twitters new ad products fare in the marketplace, such as keyword targeting.

From a content perspective, what are the characteristics of a good Facebook post?

If your content isn’t optimized to exploit Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, it should be re-imagined. EdgeRank is how Facebook determines what a person sees in his News Feed. Since consumers discover an overwhelming amount of content in the News Feed, it’s critical to be there, and be there often. So content needs to drive clicks.

There are tons of good resources for looking at keywords, time of day, day of week, content types. Dan Zarrella has a great blog for this. And EdgeRank Checker is another good one. 

What has you excited in social media marketing these days?

Speaking as a direct marketer, social sign-on is a game-changer. Enabling a consumer to register and log-in to a site using his Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo or other credential accomplishes some significant things from a business perspective.

First, it completely reduces friction around registration. When a consumer can be two clicks/permissions from registering for a site, and can use a single username and password for multiple sites, it drives conversion-to-member.

Second, when the front door of your site is powered by a social network like Facebook, it tells the consumer that your site is, by definition, a social experience. That instigates more sharing; and earned media at a high volume drives additional scale as your customer’s friends begin discovering you.

And third, when a consumer opts to use a social sign-on, and explicitly grants permission for a publisher to access personal information such as a birthday, a relationship status or an Interest Graph, a brand can create a drastically more personal and more relevant experience for that consumer. For example, if you know that a consumer likes Tory Burch and Coach on Facebook, it follows that Coach and Tory Burch should be among the first products or incentives he sees when he enters the site.

Where do you see social media marketing in five years?

When you consider the huge penetration of smartphones and the tighter integration of social sign-on into the DNA of the mobile operating systems, in the next five years you will see sharing become a ubiquitous part of every human experience, whether it is attending a Red Sox game, shopping at Building 19 or eating at Kelly’s Roast Beef. It will be like breathing.