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Marketing

Published December 18th 2018

How Social Media Can Help You Manage Surges in Demand For Your Products

Guest blogger Jake Rheude from Red Stag Fulfillment shares tips on supply management when social media interest is taking off.

When consumer interest moves so quickly, it pays to be prepared for a sudden rush in demand.

Guest blogger Jake Rheude from Red Stag Fulfillment takes you through some of the ways you can stay on top of sudden interest in your products on social from a supply management perspective.

When interest is high, pause before acting

Say your marketing strategy pays off big time. A leading influencer in your niche shares your product on Instagram. Your carefully crafted video ad is getting air time and shares galore across social networks. Somehow you’ve cracked the front page of Reddit.

It’s only a matter of time before the orders start piling up – what can you do to optimize your supply in the face of escalating demand?

First of all, check to make sure that the feedback you’re getting online is positive. It’s worth analyzing your mentions to see what people are saying before rushing to decisions.

Break down the mentions by product

Assuming that the majority of noise you’re hearing is good, narrow in on whether that chatter is about your brand in general or about a specific product you sell.

It’s unlikely that all of your products are equally popular. Segment the mentions by product so you can determine exactly what it is that could be flying off the shelves.

Is location a factor?

Part of savvy demand forecasting involves filtering your social media mentions by region.

If you’re Nintendo, where’s the hype for the Switch coming from? Are there areas where it seems disproportionately popular?

Again, assuming your mentions are positive, it’s probably a good idea to order more inventory to be stocked at warehouses closer to those areas of high demand. This follows the classic supply chain model of zone skipping, where you save money on shipping costs by moving inventory to a location that’s closest to the bulk of your customers.

Don’t under-do it

So, you’ve run the tests and the numbers are coming back huge. There are a lot of people interested in your upcoming promotion.

This is probably a good reason to order extra inventory, or you risk facing a Szechuan sauce disaster.

A buffer of spare inventory should be enough to account for a jump in perceived interest from your audience, but not so much that if you’ve over-ordered it ruins you.

Follow your rivals, but be careful

It definitely hurts seeing your direct rival for survival go viral (try saying that three times fast!). It’s frustrating to see their products gain a boost in interest when you believe yours are better.

The answer isn’t to get mad, it’s to get creative.

You need a counter-marketing strategy that can capture some of their momentum and translate it into hype for your brand. Think of the video ad wars we’ve witnessed between mattress companies such as Casper, Purple, and Leesa. Or consider the satirical ads mocking Elton John’s cameo in this year’s John Lewis Christmas commercial in the UK. Talk about shots fired.

If you’re really bold, cheekily call out the other guys in your own ad, or start slinging some shade on Twitter like Wendy’s does all the time.

There are so many ways to approach creating good counter-marketing content. Do you want to make fun of the competition’s branding? Do you want to poke holes in their product’s quality or service? Have they made a serious faux pas?

The benefits of a successful counter-marketing strategy are numerous:

  • You can steal potential customers or existing customers right back
  • You can raise brand awareness by riding the hype
  • Plus, there’s the notoriety for being the brand that called out their competitors and made money from them

But remember, not all audiences will appreciate these kinds of actions. If you get the tone or messaging wrong, you’re going to look like you’re trying to hop on the hype train instead of relying on your own ideas. And even if your content is good and gets mostly favorable reactions, you’re giving a free shoutout to your competitor. Is it worth it?

Some parting words of advice

Hopefully it’s going to be an epic holiday season for you. That said, surges in interest around your brand, product, or industry can happen at any time of the year so it’s good to stay on top of the conversation at all times.

And a friendly reminder – don’t forget about your existing customers. Make sure that the post-purchase experience is stellar and leaves nothing to be desired. At the end of the day, stepping up your marketing game on social media to match demand doesn’t mean you should neglect your current customer base, and an all-round positive experience is important for building loyalty at a time when it’s at an all-time low.

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