Organisation name: Cocoon Apothecary
Contact: Jessica Burman, Founder
Web References: Cocoon Apothecary
Description of how social media is used for business performance
Ever wondered what it’s like to grow a successful business from the comfort of your own home? The video below briefly documents where Cocoon was approximately a year ago, before the company made the move from the Burman family basement to manufacturing and retail space.
The 11-year-old company has been marketing through social media platforms for the last six years with great success. For Founder Jessica Burman, Cocoon’s messaging represents the heart of the company and its products by showcasing the knowledge and passion of the company, and the people behind the scenes. “I want people to know who we are as a brand; to see how cool we are,” Burman says, and her strategy behind that statement is to educate, entertain, and inspire.
Using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a blog, Cocoon educates social media followers about the ingredients found in their products, invites them to appreciate all things nature, and seamlessly markets their skin care products. Cocoon’s fandom includes 11000+ Facebook fans, 2200+ Twitter followers, a few hundred Instagram followers and an average of 1000 monthly blog views. All of these initiatives drive traffic to the website, and contribute to sales.
While the goals are straight-forward, their social media marketing strategy is finessed with experimentation and driven by open and curious minds. Burman has found that the blog is not only a great element to boost Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but more importantly, and of impact, the blog is what makes Cocoon Apothecary an influencer. Going so far as to describe the blog as her contribution to social activism, Burman’s goal is to be an authority on organic, environmentally-friendly, cruelty-free, and human-safe personal care products, and a cheerleader for the environment at large. The posts – relevant and resonate topics about skin care and the ingredients found within skin care products – is researched, informative content, written conversationally to contribute, if not lead, beauty product discussions.
Cocoon’s social media content isn’t aimed solely at customers. Burman has had appreciative comments from retailers that sell Cocoon products whose staff follow Cocoon’s profiles. They are grateful for the product information and skin care benefits in Cocoon posts, and they pass the information along to customers at their own shops.
With a few years of experimentation under their belt, Cocoon recently devised a calendar-based strategy that features a different Cocoon product, or product ingredient, each month. Burman creates social media content based on that product – images, ingredient information, posts about product uses and benefits, culminating at month’s end with a contest. Not on a strict daily schedule, however, there is room for when inspiration strikes.
Burman works on marketing first thing in the morning and posts it as soon as possible – experience has proven that night posts don’t get as much reach – so that it’s available all day for social media junkies. She finds people are plugged into social media all day long, and sees no difference in traffic between weekends and weekdays. And she eagerly checks on and interacts with the engagement of her posts throughout the day herself, “It feeds me, I need it!” she laughs, and notes that it’s an enormously rewarding to see the interactions whether they are likes, shares, or comments.
To keep the company current on best social media practices, Burman relies on her social network to post and discuss the latest trends, rules, successes and failures. She used to use a third party company to run contests on Facebook, but since Facebook relaxed their rules on contest conduct she has taken the task internally. Burman reveals that she was able to collect more metrics on the contestants from the third-party, and more people participated, but ultimately the savings of running the contests in-house are worth the changes in dynamics. And Burman follows her competitors. If she sees something a competitor has posted that she likes, she will try it out – and her competitors reciprocate. However, she chooses not to use ideas that are unique to that company out of respect for their ingenuity.
Cocoon measures success by the amount of likes, shares, comments and new followers – any engagement is a checkmark in the achievement column. Cocoon’s social media traffic has proven time and again that it does lead to sales. With more than a decade into the business, and several years on social media, Burman is patient and understands how to woo her audience, recognizing that it could take years for a follower to convert to a customer, to which she says simply, “It’s worth it.” She finds that using Twitter corporately is best for connecting with like-minded businesses and organizations: “It really isn’t a platform for gaining clientele in my experience. I find it more of a good place for networking which can lead to developing relationships with media or partners.” An average post on Instagram gets between 15 and 40 likes and a few comments. The average Facebook post gets a reach of between 40 and 100 views, and several likes and comments.
Burman says that she doesn’t have as many Instagram followers as other companies, but that she’s pleased with the content, and the platform. Facebook marketing has taught her a great deal: “You can’t create enough content, and Facebook can be miraculous, but you have to spend a bit of money and learn how to target your audience so you can get the best bang for your buck.” If she spends a few dollars to boost the reach of Facebook posts she’ll see a reach of several thousand. She considers spending money on Facebook marketing well worth it, and the prices versus reach is incomparable to traditional marketing. Her most popular post was created to drive away the blues brought on by the bleak, frigid days of winter. On January 5, 2013 she posted a photo (see below) of a pink rose with the suggestion to, “Buy yourself some flowers today. In the cold, dead winter, it’s good to be reminded of the beauty of nature.”
The post organically garnered 1370 likes, 173 shares, and 123 comments, and generated an enthusiastic conversation about everything from the simple joy of that pop of nature in the home, to how to care for and arrange the flowers, and even some negativity. How does Burman handle negative comments on social media? “I’ll have a conversation with them,” though she says that it doesn’t come up very often.
On the blog, Burman says that one of her most popular posts is from August 2012 and includes an in-house created infographic about how to identify petrochemicals in skin care products. Upon request she has shared it again on her social media channels with success, two years after the original posting.
While she hasn’t recreated the enormous success of the flower post and the petrochemical infographic (yet), Burman knows what her people like – testimonies, behind-the-scenes photos, photos of herself, memes, words of wisdom. There is a predilection for images, but most importantly, the posts that are about something that followers agree with resonate the farthest with her community. She also adds that, if possible, incorporate a photo of a dog. And while she’s keen to educate, she stays away from language that is too scientific and technical by breaking down those concepts into terms that are conversational.
She stresses the importance of not making the sales pitch obvious: “You have to be sneaky when you sell – they don’t like to be sold to,” which is where her intent to educate drives her marketing goals. She can educate her audience on a specific product, ingredient, or skin affliction, then mention conversationally at the conclusion of the post what Cocoon products fit the need.
Another strategy that Burman employs is to stay away from posting negativity. She won’t pick on another company or specific product, “I won’t throw anyone under the bus,” even for the potential sales because, “I don’t want people to buy our products out of fear.” Burman wants people to buy her products because they want to take care of their skin, and adds that the fact her products are eco-friendly and non-toxic are a side benefit.
Lessons for Others
Burman advises that social media marketing should be fun, creative and something that you personally want to see in social media. “Brighten someone’s day, laugh, educate,” and most importantly provide content that has value, “or else they will unlike you.”
“Something I have to be careful of is not being envious.” Burman reminds herself – less and less frequently these days – that “Cocoon is Cocoon”. The company needs to do things their way and measure their own success rather than compare their marketing activity and popularity with their competitors. She has an I-wish-you-glad-tidings kind of mantra that she leans on when she feels that envy creep up on her. It’s especially hard to watch new competitors start up with a stronger start than Cocoon did – maybe they had more start-up capital, allowing them to take on more customers and engage in richer marketing at the start than Cocoon was able to 11 years ago. But Burman reminds herself, “I’ve come a long way,” and, “I’m me, this is Cocoon, and we’ll be the best that we can be.”
Submitted By: Catherine Muss, SMBP student, University of Waterloo
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