Duane Reade Takes Charge of Social

The New York-based chain is leveraging social channels to interact with its customers and raise awareness about its products.

Social media has become an essential tool in organizations' arsenal to communicate with their customers. Apart from allowing for increased interactions, social channels are giving companies additional insight into their customers' needs, introducing a new way for brands to capture what their customers are saying.

However, social media success requires more than an ad-hoc policy of posting on different channels. Organizations which have taken social interactions seriously have developed a social media strategy and embedded it in the way they do business.

Duane Reade is one organization that has taken a serious approach to social media, which revolves around a robust strategy that integrates the different social channels and makes sure that the message is consistent across the board. "We have one social voice across all of our platforms. It's strategically fun, witty, and New York-centric," notes Calvin Peters, online marketing manager for the New York drugstore chain.

But social success wasn't always the case for Duane Reade. When Peters joined the company in 2011, Duane Reade had 900 followers on Twitter and 1,200 Facebook fans while there were no established Instagram or Pinterest pages. "We began our social media journey by implementing an aggressive consumer-generated media strategy and user engagement across most of our platforms," Peters notes. This has led to substantial growth in Duane Reade's social media following and the company now enjoys more than 1.25 million Twitter followers and more than 63,000 Facebook likes.

One way to build its social media following has been to engage users. Before the 2012 holiday season Duane Reade decided to leverage social channels to promote its own line of hosiery. The brand recruited bloggers to talk about the line on different channels. "Our digital/social strategy has focused around strategically highlighting, procuring, and disseminating [user-generated content] or consumer-generated media as the core for expanding our online social presence or share of voice," Peters notes. He adds that forming and building the Duane Reade VIP Blogger Team was instrumental in allowing the company to monitor, control, and leverage relevant user-generated content and incorporate this organic media within campaigns throughout the year.

Blogging was only part of Duane Reade's social campaign. The brand also launched the "Show Us Some Leg" contest on Facebook, asking entrants to upload photos of themselves wearing Duane Reade's hosiery. As part of its strategy to bring different channels together, Duane Reade hosted a Twitter party, where approximately100 women chatted about the line, creating almost two million impressions. "We were trending on Twitter under hashtag #DRLegwear throughout most of the hour's immense activity," notes Peters.

Although Peters is the only internal person on Duane Reade's social and marketing team, he explains that he gets help from Walgreens, the chain's mother company. This support has helped the brand through its successful social journey. Peters believes Duane Reade's "parallel persuasion approach to digital marketing," which sees the brand focus on omnichannel engagement, has been instrumental in the company's social media success. "This is something that is bigger than just Duane Reade and is truly a defining moment for retailers everywhere, as it represents an innovative approach for how retailers can reach their customers through all owned channels and engage with them in a relevant two-way conversation around content they trust," he notes. "To us, this is the very essence of the new approach to omnichannel customer communications."