(Note: This post, along with any future posts that seem oddly business-oriented on my blog are graduate school assignments. I am not changing my brand, nor has my blog been hacked. Yay for grad school!)
I know, I know: We write books. We don’t sell glasses. But there’s something about this case study I just read for class that should resonate with all of us: social media marketing strategies drive success.
If you wear glasses, there’s a good chance you have heard of Warby Parker: an online eyeglasses retailer that has revolutionized the market for us vision-impaired consumers. If you’ve ever spent a few hundred dollars on a pair of prescription frames, (my bank account still groans from the last time five years ago) you know the struggle. That’s part of what makes companies like Warby Parker so appealing. By focusing on online distribution of the frames and lenses manufactured in-house, the company is able to cut out the middle man and offer eyeglasses directly to consumers for a fraction of the cost.
Hello. Count me in.
But we’re not here to advertise for the online prescription eyeglass retailer, so let’s cut to the chase: How does a 100% online retailer excel in an industry where people are used to trying the items on in person?
Two words: Social Media.
Word of mouth is arguably one of the best forms of advertisement in any market. The era of social media has amplified that to global reaches. As “newbie authors” just starting out, there are a few things we can learn from their social media marketing strategy. Let’s take a look:
How is Warby Parker using social media to promote transactional communication with customers, rather than more linear advertising? What role does user-generated content play in this process?
I haven’t published my first book, yet, so my marketing budget is non-existent. That’s what’s so great about what we’re about to talk about. Warby Parker’s social media marketing strategy includes their Home Try-On Campaign. It allows consumers who, like me, have a hard time deciding on one pair of frames without trying them on to do just that. They can choose up to five pairs to try on at home, pick the one pair that fits the best, and send the rest back.
Sounds pretty great, right?
And it is. But add to that the company’s regular prompts of their customers to share pictures of themselves wearing their frames on three major social media networks (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) and they’ve tapped into the network of communication their customers already have in place on their own individual social media platforms.
Why is this big? Because now they’ve broadened their reach to a larger audience of consumers who already know and trust the people who are posting this user-generated content, and Warby Parker’s potential client list has grown. For Warby Parker, one satisfied customer essentially turns into a few hundred new people learning about the company and its products.
How does Warby Parker’s social media strategy help reduce dissonance for consumers that are considering switching eyeglass brands?
If I see a pretty pair of frames on my pretty friend’s face, I’m going to ask her where she got them. And, if she got them for a fraction of the prices we pay in traditional eye doctor’s offices, she’s going to be super excited to tell me.
It’s basic word of mouth advertising, but on a much larger scale.
Warby Parker is basically tapping into free marketing. It’s not a requirement in order to purchase the glasses, so I don’t personally see anything wrong with this practice. Their customers want to share with their friends.
(Let’s be real: if you tell me you like my dress, I’ll be super excited to tell you all about the pockets it came with just because, you know: pockets!)
And people are more inclined to trust the word of a friend than a commercial or a magazine ad. Aren’t you?
Honestly, this is exactly how I ended up stumbling onto my multitudinous pairs of Zennis. I should be embarrassed to tell you that I’ve lost count of the number of prescription frames I’ve purchased just over the last two years, but I’m not, because I buy them at a fraction of the cost of traditional prescription eyewear shopping and I get to have a variety of frames to match my variety of moods.
But why do you care about all of this?
Because, as an author trying to make even the smallest ripple in the literary world, social media is your voice. Individuals share things they are excited about with their friends, thereby increasing your audience for you. These online conversations drive the success of the marketing campaigns, even if in an indirect manner.
One last tip I’d like to share:
Instead of basing all of their media messages on selling their eyeglasses, “the company has directed attention towards the challenges consumers have with the traditional eyeglass market.” (Wiley-Blackwell, 19) What does that mean?
It means they’ve cracked into a common ground with their client base, and this has, in turn, fostered a sense of personalized and meaningful interactions that keep their customers loyal to their brand.
Can you see how this will translate for us, as authors, trying to build a reader base?