Last year, Macy’s launched an employee brand ambassador program called #MacysStyleCrew with 20 associates. The idea was to let Macy’s employees turn to social media to promote and sell the store’s clothing and other items. Employees are incentivized by additional pay for sales they generate via social media.
The program has shown promise, and was later expanded to over 300 employees. Now, the program is being opened to all Macy’s employees. The success of the Macy’s Style Crew has also allowed Macy’s to shift budgets away from external influencer marketing, and instead leverage its employees as social media influencers.
On trend color this summer! Add a little happy to your wardrobe. #macysstylecrew #macysstylecrewjacqueline #fashionblog #summerfashion #trend #colorful #styleblogger #vacation Jacqueline Palmer/Style Crew https://t.co/eAsBtYRJP8 pic.twitter.com/WMoAHZ2pee
— Mystylist041 (@mystylist041) May 30, 2018
Notice that with this video, there is an instructional element as the employee is trying to teach viewers about how to select colors for their wardrobe based on the season. The clothing is promoted as well, but it’s more about teaching potential customers a skill and how to stay stylish. And yes, the audio is way too low and the background music is overshadowing it. That almost works, as it makes the video seem more ‘authentic’ and less ‘corporate’.
Of course, many of the updates are like this one, strictly promotional:
Mark your calendars! Black Friday in July Sale starts July 9th. Select cosmetic and fragrances will be 30% to 50% off. Ends July 15th. #macys #macysstylecrew #macysbeauty #trendbeauty #trendmood #makeup #makeupsales #summer #sacramento #midtownsacramento #sacramentoevents #DOCO #smashbox #tarte #urbandecay #philosophy #MUA #MAC
Still, I think this initiative has a lot of potential, and Macy’s must be seeing results they like, as they continue to grow and expand the program. Also, I love that Macy’s started with a small group of 20, and scaled later. I always advise clients to follow this format, to start with a smaller group, and then grow. Any time you launch a new initiative like an employee brand ambassador program, there will be plenty of mistakes made through simple trial and error. It’s better to make those mistakes with a smaller group, then iron out the issues and scale growth.
I do think that this initiative will show more fruit in the future if the employees are trained to focus more on creative instructional content versus promotional content. However, since employees are being encouraged to sell items with their content, this can be a confusing and tricky line for employees to walk. Just remember that brands like Patagonia, Red Bull and Nike sell an awful lot of products by rarely promoting the products directly.
I think the #MacysStyleCrew program is a great idea and if you work for a retail brand it gives you a chance to see what’s possible by unleashing your employees to serve as influencers to online customers. I do think that Macy’s will find an unexpected benefit from this program: It will help Macy’s hire better employees. As the #MacysStyleCrew grows, it can become a recruitment tool for new employees, seeing that they will be given the freedom to leverage their social media skills to bring in new customers.
If you’re a retailer, could you see a program like #MacysStyleCrew working with your employees? These efforts are still in their infancy, but over time I think you will see more retailers move in the direction of leveraging its employees as social media influencers rather than working with outside sources. It’s a notable shift and both retailers and those marketing themselves as ‘influencers’ will need to adjust.