Contests combined with social sharing reach tens of thousands of Ashley Stewart customers.

Ashley Stewart sells plus-size apparel and uses social media to let its female customers tell the world about themselves and the women they admire.

One way it does that is through contests it runs at least monthly with the aid of digital marketing platform Wyng. Two recent events—one called “Momspiration” promoted before Mother’s Day and another called “#SheDidThat” reached more than 100,000 consumers, generated 7,000 entries and led to more than 3,000 shares on social media within a month.

Plus-size retailer Ashley Stewart promotes empowerment to social followers

A post from Ashley Stewart’s #SheDidThat contest.

The Momspiration event encouraged women to upload photos and stories of their mothers or other women who played important roles in their lives. The #SheDidThat campaign allowed women to upload photos of themselves and add captions with phrases such as “She Slayed” and “She Persisted” and then post them to their social media accounts. The retailer gave away six shopping sprees to winners of each contest.

“Our whole goal in being a social commerce brand is we’re looking to give voice to women across America,” says Andrea Berner, senior vice president of Ashley Stewart. “This social engagement platform allows this woman to have a voice and to speak it loud.”

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Ashley Stewart, No. 303 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500, promotes contests through email, social media channels and through well-known influencers, like model Desiree Jenkins and fashion blogger Laura Lee. Contest participants upload photos and provide some identifying information, either an email address or a phone number, and Wyng collects that information for Ashley Stewart and loads the photos to the contest landing page on AshleyStewart.com and to its various social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Twitter.

Wyng, formerly known as Offerpop, offers a few dozen prebuilt contests that retailer clients can customize with their brand imagery and message, which makes it easy to regularly engage customers with these events, says Julianna Pillot, social media and community engagement specialist at Ashley Stewart.

Empowered women empower women. Let’s uplift each other and not bring each other down.

Part of Pillot’s job is to moderate comments on photos women post related to these events, and she keeps a close eye out for critical comments. There aren’t many, she says, but she makes sure they don’t remain on the site, as that conflicts with the retailer’s philosophy of encouraging women to share their stories and feel good about themselves.

“It takes a lot to put yourself out there,” Pillot says. When there is the rare negative comment, she says, “I respond that empowered women empower women. Let’s uplift each other and not bring each other down.”

Because Ashley Stewart puts an emphasis on social media marketing, Berner says it employs people who are knowledgeable about social networking. “Our customer is incredibly social-savvy,” she says, “and we give her the opportunity to be heard across all our platforms.” That includes Ashley Stewart’s 90 stores, where the retailer also holds events, often in coordination with complementary brands, such as hair products brand Creme of Nature and Iman Cosmetics.

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