Not since Clark Kent have eyeglasses looked so sexy. With retail visionary Warby Parker turning some serious heads on social, we examine how to develop a winning strategy that engages customers by crossing every channel possible.
Curating User-Generated Content on Social
Branding is all about buzz. This is especially true online, where 81 percent of consumers are influenced by their friends’ social media posts. And with 92 percent of consumers trusting recommendations from friends and family more than they value any other form of advertising, you can see why user-generated content is critical.
81 percent of consumers are influenced by friends’ social media posts.
91 percent of consumers trust personal recommendations more than ads.
Integrate user-generated content into your social strategy to grow your audience, increase your reach, and build stronger relationships with your customers. Here are some examples of how Warby Parker is doing just that.
Warby Parker has reinvented the way people shop for glasses through its Home Try-On program. At no cost, customers can have up to five pairs of glasses shipped directly to their homes through the company’s website, so long as they return them after five days.
Built around customer feedback, this campaign encourages consumers to take pictures of themselves wearing different frames and then post those photos to their social profiles and the brand’s Facebook Page, using the hashtag #WarbyHomeTryOn. It’s a win-win: Warby Parker gathers product feedback while customers generate positive social sentiment around the brand in a natural way.
“We were able to develop an amazing community on Facebook and Twitter by answering the simple question, ‘How do I look in these glasses?’” Jen Rubio, a social media manager at Warby Parker, told Contently. “As a result, the majority of posts on our Page are user-generated, and it’s made for some great conversations (and ultimately conversions).”
— Paul Roth (@paulidin) February 22, 2015
It’s paid off: According to a July 2013 report, consumers have posted more than 25,000 images on Warby Parker’s Facebook Page and tagged more than 40,000 photos on Instagram since the #WarbyHomeTryOn campaign launched five years ago.
“We were able to develop an amazing community on Facebook and Twitter by answering the simple question, ‘How do I look in these glasses?’” — Warby Parker Social Media Manager Jen Rubio
Adding to its at-home sales drive, Warby Parker has also curated an exceptional in-store experience. In a 2014 interview, the company’s co-CEO David Gilboa discussed how buying glasses is a highly social shopping experience — with people bringing along their friends, significant others, and family members. As a result, Warby Parker retail spaces combine the ease of ordering online with the fun of real-life shopping, complete with artist-designed photo booths.
While visiting one of Warby Parker’s retail locations, customers can step inside the photo booth and snap a few pictures. Two copies of the photo strip are printed out in the store, and customers have the option of getting digital copies emailed to them to be shared online later.
Whether shoppers want feedback on how the new glasses look or just want to document an enjoyable day out, Warby Parker’s photo booths add a fun perk that enhances the overall experience with some digital crossover.
In addition to photo booths, Warby Parker introduced a Frame Studio in its Chicago location, where customers can get their photo taken by a professional photographer free of charge. Patrons are invited to bring friends, relatives, neighbors, and even props.
“It’s the perfect place to stage your holiday card, celebrate a great day out, recreate a favorite editorial, and of course, see how your new frames look,” the company said.
— Warby Parker (@WarbyParker) February 17, 2015
Anyone who attends a portrait session is encouraged to talk about their experience and share photos online, using the localized hashtag #SmileChicago.
JP Palmares was one of many people who flocked to the Warby Parker grand opening in Chicago and said he was impressed with the brand’s personal touch.
“It makes me feel more personally connected to this big brand,” Palmares said. “Warby Parker is headquartered in New York, but its social outreach makes it feel much closer to home.”
Ups! #SmileChicago #warbyparker #savethedate #werenottogether A photo posted by JP Palmares (@palmares) on
“Warby Parker is headquartered in New York, but its social outreach makes it feel much closer to home.” — Warby Parker fan JP Palmares
Takeaway: Good content increases online engagement and website traffic. If you need help, enlist brand advocates, including employees and customers, through creative campaigns. Done well, user-generated material can have a dramatic impact on your organic reach.
How to Make Data More Social Media Friendly
Today more than ever, data drives business. But when sharing company insights with your customers, keep it interesting — no one wants to see text-heavy documents on social. Consider how Warby Parker turned its annual reports into engaging, shareable content.
2011 Warby Parker Report
Warby Parker debuted its first annual report in 2011 with an infographic that captures a year’s worth of company data. It’s highly visual while touching on everything from web traffic to company culture. (Watch how it was made here.)
2012 Warby Parker Report
The company stuck with a similar theme in 2012, but instead of using a linear timeline, it presented its annual report as a wheel with interesting facts, company milestones, collection launches, and more.
2013 Warby Parker Report
Warby Parker’s 2013 annual report was presented as an interactive calendar with an update for each of the year’s 365 days. According to AdAge, this unique approach led to the brand’s three biggest sales days at the time. Intended to go viral and create more awareness for the brand, the calendar features plenty of lighthearted information, such as an employee survey on emoji use. Look more closely, and you’ll see it subtly weaves in some heavier-hitting data, such as sales growth.
2014 Warby Parker Report
The Year in Review features a mix of 24 milestones from across the country. It highlights everything from new products and store openings to employee growth and Oprah’s approval.
The Make-Your-Own Annual Report provides users with a customized annual report of their very own that can be shared with friends and family. Answer a few questions, and the generator transforms your results into a colorful report, to be shared online with the hashtag #WarbyReport.
Takeaway: You don’t have to be serious to make a meaningful impact. Whether you’re a community manager, digital strategist, or data scientist, metrics matter. But show off your company’s assets in a way that is fun to interact with. That way, it’s more likely to be shared.
The 4 Cs of Social Promotion
Products may be your bread and butter, but they shouldn’t totally consume your feed. Successful content strategies balance a mixture of different types of posts, media, and topics. Remember, your content is competing with posts from friends and families. Constantly advertise, and people will scroll right past. Here’s how Warby Parker focuses its efforts through what we call the 4 Cs.
Warby Parker is a quirky brand, and people want to know who is behind its logo.
Through its employee advocacy plan, Warby Parker refers to its workers as “stewards” of the brand’s identity. To that end, each team member receives a style guide and a copy of Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Burns.
The style guide clarifies issues around grammar and usage but also encourages employees to “write like Warby Parker is the person you’d want to be next to you at a dinner party.” Other directives, such as color and font preference, fit the same persona.
As for the Beats reference: Warby Parker gets its name from two of Kerouac’s characters.
Clearly, there is much ado about Warby Parker. But that’s because the brand communicates with customers at every level, like a good friend (rather than one who suddenly reaches out to you when he needs help moving).
To show it cares on a deeper level, Warby Parker invites people into its stores to fill out New Year’s resolution postcards. Later in the year, it mails them out to make sure customers are on track with their personal goals. The brand also keeps the conversation going by sharing resolution postcards from its employees on Instagram.
The Warby Parker blog is also worth highlighting. It features the typical product launches and company news, of course, but it also peppers in the unexpected, such as humorous flow charts and downloadable games.
It’s easy to see that Warby Parker values its customers. Not only does the brand have an excellent response rate, but it also goes above and beyond to provide its community with good service — even when it’s not product related.
For example, a Warby Parker customer arrived to pick up her glasses on a day that wasn’t going so well. After kvetching with some Warby Parker stewards, she returned home to find an envelope in her mailbox, with a gift certificate to a local bar.
So, I went to go pick up my new glasses from Warby Parker the day my car got stolen. I started talking to the team at the Buckhead store (they are all super great) and told them what happened. One week later, this $20 gift card comes in the mail for me. Seriously proof of how amazing @warbyparker is. I can’t believe it. I briefly mentioned that I loved the Porter during our conversation and they even remembered that. So rad! Thank you all.
Meanwhile, with product promotions, Warby Parker surpasses expectations with interactive assistance. The company maintains a customer support YouTube Channel to answer frequently asked questions. It also features a special series with supermodel Karlie Kloss.
In addition to running an active open-source program — where the company gives away the software it creates — Warby Parker also devotes itself to the Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program. Each month, the number of glasses sold is tallied, and the company makes a donation to its nonprofit partners to cover the cost of sourcing that number of glasses.
In turn, the nonprofit trains men and women in developing countries to provide basic eye exams and sell glasses to their communities at affordable prices. The program has been a resounding success, with more than a million glasses distributed to people in need.
Takeaway: It’s not always about you. The power of social media lies in your fans and customers. Tap into that power by starting a conversation that can help people in more ways than one.
A 20/20 Outlook for a Social Friendly Brand
With these helpful insights from Warby Parker, your brand will have a clearer vision of how to more effectively communicate across channels, collaborate across teams, and provide an exceptional customer experience. Stay focused, and your brand will become sharper than ever.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.