By  on June 25, 2012

Lingerie brands are courting consumers on Facebook more than ever.

Executives are looking to drive more value for brands with social-media strategies that include compelling content, higher action rates and cross-channel synergies. Advertisers are also increasingly pointing to their Facebook pages as a primary representation of their brand, which often commands more prominence than their own Web sites.

At 900 million members worldwide and still growing, with revenues of $3.7 billion in 2011, Facebook is becoming a key platform for lingerie brands to build social friendships, or what is known as earned media. While it’s been debated that Facebook users go to the site to socialize with friends and not to buy product, a majority of innerwear executives say a brand’s exposure to millions of potential customers in the global marketplace is well worth the return on investment. For now, the ad spend for optimized ads on Facebook is considered affordable, and averages 46 cents to 60 cents per click or 1,000 impressions, according to industry executives. Many companies budget an amount on a daily basis for each campaign, and a number of companies plan to expand their presence on Facebook.

Jay Dunn, chief marketing officer of, said he’s been “very pleased” with the results of Facebook ads.

“I’ve had very good success with Facebook.…When I was [vice president and chief marketing officer] at Lane Bryant, 80 percent of respondents to the Friends & Family campaign went from the Facebook ad to the Facebook page, and then to the brick-and-mortar stores. The reaction was higher than expected. The first time it ran was February 2011, and it’s still running,” said Dunn. “Facebook is currently getting a lot of chatter with the effectiveness of its IPO, and I think advertising and social media are largely misunderstood by both analysts and advertisers....You have to understand that when you go to Facebook, you are buying an audience of over 900,000 people. The ads must be compelling and impactful.”

Dunn pointed out the online ads provide opportunities that traditional ads cannot give.

“Can you build a brand on Facebook? Yes. Can you use ads to drive click-through to destinations? Yes. There’s a controversy whether to use Facebook’s free tools versus ads. But the ads give you the ability to micro-target consumers, and that’s something many businesses are missing,” said Dunn.

John Shivel, senior vice president of Fruit of the Loom’s marketing, advertising and corporate communications, said the company recently began advertising its Vanity Fair Lingerie and Vassarette bra brands on Facebook to “establish and maintain a social presence with our consumers.”

“To date, the ads have been effective. The ads are easy to create and don’t require hefty spending before we see an immediate return on investment. In less than one week, we’ve doubled the Vanity Fair fan base and our Vassarette page ‘likes’ have increased eightfold. Before the Facebook ads, we drove traffic to our Facebook pages via display units and by including the Facebook icon in our print and TV ads. Performance and lift increased due to targeting people at the right time in the right mind-set,” said Shivel.

Kenneth Natori, vice president of e-commerce, finance, licensing and marketing at the Natori Co., said advertising on Facebook has led to greater awareness of the Natori brand.

“We just completed our third separate ad campaign with Facebook in the last year. We have aggressively shifted our marketing spend online, and have found Facebook to be a terrific way both to engage with our existing base and to increase brand awareness to new potential customers,” said Natori. “Our Facebook content engages our ‘likes’ with content that is sometimes related to our products, but often just meant to attract interest and conversation. Our partnership with Buddy Media has helped our social media team interact with our base using state-of the-art Facebook tools. We are actively considering some dedicated online opportunities for the fall.”

Natori noted that the “main deliverable” from a Facebook campaign is receiving more “likes.”

“Having a customer ‘like’ your page gives you the ability to interact and engage with them on a daily basis, and our social-media team does a fantastic job of creating compelling content. As long as we see positive interaction, engagement and retention from our Facebook fans, we feel good about the money we spend increasing our base,” he said.

Mo Moorman, director of communications at Jockey International, described Facebook ads as a “very successful addition to the marketing mix.”

“I don’t believe Facebook ads should stand alone. They should be linked to a bigger idea and serve as a link to a different destination that has relevance and compelling content to the user,” said Moorman. “But when it comes to advertising on Facebook, you can’t simply create one ad and make your buy. You have to continually monitor the ad’s performance.”

For example, Ryan Belcher, Jockey’s social-media coordinator, said a “useful” technique is to run a number of ads directly at Jockey’s launch page.

“We had great success with the Tebow Million Dollar Challenge contest by Jockey, which featured videos and a tweet stream,” noted Belcher.

Greg Gimble, vice president at Va Bien, said a six-month campaign on Facebook has generated sales gains in the “midteens.”

“It can be brilliant if you know your customer. It can be expensive and often wasteful if you don’t. While that may be true of most advertising campaigns, the effect is exaggerated on Facebook, where there is an incredible wealth of user data that can be used to target an audience. For example, if you know your core customer base is women ages 45 to 55 who like Goldie Hawn and listen to Elton John, you can set up ads to show up only in the Facebook accounts of women whose birthday fits in that range and whose ‘likes’ include those artists. Such an example isn’t even that specific — it could also include location, education level and much more. It’s almost Orwellian,” said Gimble.

Guido Campello, vice president of sales, branding and innovation at Cosabella, said, “We are increasing our Facebook ad strategy and do see positive results from it. Currently, with very little investment, you can accomplish a good return on investment. The moment they begin increasing ad costs, we will be more concerned about the ad value and ROI,” said Campello.

Shanon Kogler, Cosabella’s social-media coordinator, said a creative approach to building brand awareness has grown Cosabella’s fan base from 1,000 in 2011 to more than 5,000 this year.

“On Facebook, a lot of our fans are women.…We did an event on the men’s site inviting men to shop for Valentine’s Day lingerie for their wives and girlfriends.…We also did a post saying ‘OMG! We’re only eight “likes” away from 5,000 fans’...142 people liked the post, 22 shared and the 5,000th customer received a free bra-and-panty set,” said Kogler.

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