Converse may not be the world’s biggest shoe company, but it’s certainly cornered the Facebook market — the company’s more than 15 million Facebook fans leaves competitors like Nike and Adidas in the dust, sometimes by over 10 million.
As a design-your-own kind of brand, Converse was in a unique position to appeal to a broad demographic online — in fact, judging by its pretty standard wall, the company has its indie personality and emphasis on individuality to thank for much of its breakaway FB success.
Still, Converse presents things you can do to up your popularity in social media. Mashable‘s Todd Wasserman sat down with the brand’s chief marketing officer, Geoff Cottrill, for tips on their incredible strategy — we’ve synthesized the top 5 pieces of advice below.
1) Listen more than you talk.
We think that the fans of any brand want to know about product offers, but they also want to have an emotional connection -– we’re trying to be a good host for that connection. The bottom line is that in social media you have to “let go.” Forget about the old methods of one-way communication. Our philosophy in social media has been to bring our voice to the medium, which includes acting like a good party guest — we bring something to the table, and we listen more than we talk. It also means not bringing campaigns from other channels verbatim to a platform that’s about conversation.
2) Don’t get stuck in scheduled programming.
We mix it up with posts about product, posts about content and questions about topics of the day. Last year, for example, we posted a design-your-own shoe contest inspired by the Double Rainbow guy, who was blowing up that week on YouTube. Some of what we do is planned, but a lot of it is spontaneous. You have to be flexible and ready to talk about lots of topics — just like at a dinner party. We’re also learning a lot about posting tactics –- time zones, language, regional relevance, etc.
3) Consider brand extensions that expose you to a new audience.
One of our goals as a brand is to give back and help inspire a new generation of musicians. This summer, we will open Converse Rubber Tracks, a new state-of-the-art recording studio in Brooklyn, where artists can record at no cost. The studio will provide a platform for new musicians to overcome one of the biggest hurdles in their careers — affording studio time.
4) Stop focusing on the numbers.
We’ve definitely been lucky to grow and connect with a very large audience on Facebook, but aggregating fans feels like it’s coming to a close in 2011. The real metrics are the ones about engagement and ultimately, about connecting a conversation or brand affinity to results. I think a lot of brands are trying to figure that out right now — can social play a role in generating sales?
5) Don’t use the same strategy across all platforms.
We focus a lot on tone of message, but modify those messages according to platform. For example, on Facebook and YouTube, we might feature video of new bands we caught at a music festival. Simultaneously, we’ll run a call-and-response for interview questions with those bands on Twitter. The key is to know yourself as a brand, be confident in your POV and act that way wherever you are.