I had the pleasure of meeting with Suzanne Kilkenny, founder of Guna Nua Boutique. Suzanne has two shops in Ballina and Westport in County Mayo, and has recently launched an online store www.GunaNuaBoutique.ie.
Suzanne, a Galway native, saw a gap in the market in Ballina for a women’s boutique in 2011. Suzanne has years of experience in retail having worked in the sector since she was 16. Her introduction to trading online was selling baby wear on eBay whilst on maternity leave. It was then that Suzanne realized the importance of visual merchandising online and spent time setting up and taking high quality images. She could see that the quality of images has a direct impact on sales. This experience stood out to her when it came to setting up and managing the Guna Nua Boutique Facebook page.
Suzanne says that in her opinion, Facebook is one of the best free marketing tools for showcasing her business and generating sales. The Guna Nua Boutique Facebook page has 64,735 fans. Suzanne has grown her fan base through shear hard work and perseverance. It has helped Suzanne grow her business by raising brand awareness and bringing people into her stores. It also generated online sales with customers all over the world. Sales came though the Facebook page in the form of private messages, phone calls, and emails. Suzanne was one of the few businesses in Ireland that had a booming online business, even though she didn’t launch Guna Nua Boutique ecommerce store until November 2016.
The success of her Facebook page can be attributed to the following factors:
Hard work: Suzanne has always worked hard on her page. She spends time researching great content. By monitoring how posts perform on the page, she has learned the types of posts that appeal to her audience, and works consistently to post this winning content on her page.
Never forgets her customers: Suzanne knows the type of advice that she and her staff regularly impart to customers in her stores in Ballina and Westport. She understands that people appreciate advice on matching outfits with shoes, jewelry, and other accessories. She uses this to create posts which replicate this advice. If the advice is relevant and appreciated by customers in her stores, it will be equally well-received by her Facebook audience. Using this formula for creating posts has worked for Suzanne time and time again.
Here’s another great example from the Guna Nua Boutique page
Good Quality Images: Suzanne has always used high quality images on her page. She sources images from suppliers and from other social media networks. Sometimes she’ll even use images that look closely like items from her store. She covers herself by using terms like “inspired by” and “shop the look”. This is really clever and it means that the images on her page always look professional.
Suzanne is a fan of the “Picollage” app which she has used for years!
Tuned In: Suzanne tunes into what celebrities at home and abroad are wearing. Posting images of celebrities wearing items she is sells in the shop leads to instant sales. If Suzanne spots a celebrity wearing an item from her store, she posts an image on her page as soon as she can. In the image below, you can see a post featuring Kate Middleton wearing a dress that she had on sale in her store. Suzanne posted this to her page, and within minutes, it led to major sales of the dress, via her online store.
What’s in the news: Suzanne regularly posts about what’s in the news if she believes it will be of interest to her fans. These type of posts tend to perform well and they make her page interesting. I love the post below featuring the Irish Soccer Team, Irish Rugby Team and Conner McGreggor all who won their various fixtures over the course of one weekend. A great example of appealing to your audience. This post had 119 reactions and 23 shares. Fab!
Mixed it up: Suzanne recognizes that using memes that appeal to her audience keep engagement levels, on the page, high. This assists the organic reach of her page. When people engage (click, react, comment, share) her posts, they are more likely to see future posts from the page. She has a few favorite memes that she uses on the page when she feels it needs a lift. She reckons that if the memes still makes her laugh, then her fans will enjoy them too. Here is an example of one of Suzanne’s favorite memes. As you can see from the image it had a reach of 26,412 people, with 287 reactions, 10 comments and twenty-five shares.
Tagging: Suzanne uses tagging effectively to reach out to fashion bloggers and other influential social media accounts. This too, has the impact of maintaining high levels of organic reach. When people are tagged, they sometimes share the post to their fans.
Committed: Suzanne takes time to respond to all comments and messages on the page. When she opened her first shop in Ballina, she said she would work all day in the shop and then spend up to three hours every evening working on her page. Responding to people personally makes them feel valued, and helps grow brand loyalty.
Competitions: Suzanne picked up 5000 fans in one week through running a competition to give away two One Direction tickets. Suzanne knew this would appeal to the mothers of One Direction fans, who were her audience. The winner of the competition was so delighted, that she sent on videos from the concert, which made for great content for Suzanne’s Facebook page.
Getting to 64,000 did not happen by accident. Suzanne works hard, is tuned into the media, what’s happening in the world, and what celebrities are wearing her brands. The important thing is that, although it involves work and commitment, she enjoys it, and it ultimately leads to sales. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about.
To hear the full interview, check out my podcast…
Here’s another link to my podcast (in case the link above doesn’t work on your device 🙂 )