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Remember the scene in “Pulp Fiction” when John Travolta’s character opens a briefcase, unleashing a captivating orange glow?
That’s how H&M’s global head of digital Jordan Nasser characterized the sense of discovery he felt when he was reassigned from window displays and mannequin purchasing to managing the Swedish fashion giant’s nascent Internet communications budget.
Nasser traced how H&M’s online presence evolved from a MySpace page in 2006, amassing an initial 135,000 fans, to a Facebook account in 2007, complete with the first vanity URL, at Nasser’s insistence.
He opted for one global page — “I didn’t want to split the audience,” he reasoned — and introduced innovations such as the ability to tag photos. “We wanted to pull as many people as we could at one time and talk to them in one central place.”
H&M reached one million fans on Facebook in March 2009, crossed the six million threshold in December 2010, and is today beyond 15 million and counting, Nasser said.
The executive took a different approach with Twitter, creating a global and multiple local accounts, the latter to be able to “drill deeper” and communicate about the intricacies about store events and the like.
He characterized H&M’s YouTube channel as “our special television channel” that has garnered more than 31 million video views. “Thanks David, wherever you are!” he kidded, referring to footballer David Beckham, whose underwear campaigns caused an online sensation.
Nasser used the term “social communication” to better reflect the reality of social media like Facebook and its Russian and Asian counterparts (VKontakte, Youku and Sina Weibo).
He lamented that social media was a term coined by print journalists, whereas “it’s not simply pushing information to a consumer in a flat surface. It’s about having a discussion with them about your brand, about what they like, about what they don’t like.”
H&M merged its “inspirational” and e-commerce sites in 2010, with the chief challenge being “to make something that is both inspiring and shoppable.”
Echoing other presenters, Nasser predicted that mobile would quickly overtake desktop as the venue to inform and interact with customers.
Consumers, he stressed, “need to feel part of what you’re doing. It’s all about storytelling and creating a relationship with your customer.”
Challenges for the future include managing user-generated content, devising ways to “bring shared shopping experiences online” via shared screens and capitalizing on the fact that customers increasingly bring multiple devices into the store, and juggle them at home. “How many of you sit on the couch and have three screens going at once?” Nasser asked. “People are really tied to their devices.”
The first retailer that figures out how to leverage 3-D printing technology is also bound to secure a public relations coup, if not ignite a commercial maelstrom, Nasser noted.