Welcome to the first Jake On The Case blog post were we’ll unlock the mysteries of social media by learning from the success of others through examining some inspiring case studies. I hope you’ll have fun along the way as I plan to do.
To start us off I want to look at this week’s main study topics:
- Building Community
- Integrating new technology with the old
I wanted to start here because I think our first case study Warby Parker is a great example of implementing these concepts to create success and I want to tie these in as we review this case study.
Now I don’t want to spend too much time summarizing this week’s reading, because well we all read the chapters, RIGHT? But there are a few key concepts from each chapter that will help us as we go through this and learn together.
In chapter 3 we learn about building a community and what that means and how you begin to approach that process. As part of that we learn about the major dimensions of creating a community. Below is the image illustrating the framework from Chapter 3 on page 47 of our text Strategic Social Media.
We learn that people want to feel that they have earned their place within the community, that they want to be connected to the community through the emotional connections they create, they want to have influence within this community, and ultimately there is some benefit to being part of the community. (pg. 45-47 Strategic Social Media)
Integrating Old with New
Now in chapter 17 we learn about the idea of a converging culture where technology, personal life, business, and many other areas of life have begun to overlap. Our devices are capable of multiple functions, phone, calculator, music player, video player, etc.
Social media blurs the line between personal life and business. For some their personal life is their business, think of the Kardashians. (pg. 282-283 Strategic Social Media)
Along with the concept of convergence we have the Remediation theory which talks about blending new forms of media with traditional technologies or channels and visa versa sharing traditional media on new channels or technologies to help society adapt to the new changes. (pg. 286-287 Strategic Social Media)
It’s kind of a “spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down” type of deal.
The Case Study
I know that was little bit of a lead up into this case study, but I think you’ll agree it was worth it. If not feel free to let me know in the comments.
Okay, so here we go. Warby Parker is an online designer and retailer of eyeglasses. Back in 2010 four University of Pennsylvania students, Neil Blumenthal, Andrew Hunt, David Gilboa and Jefferey Raider are sitting around thinking-
“You know what? Getting a new pair of glasses is really a pain in the neck. It takes forever, its inconvenient, and it costs too much. Is there a better way to do this?”
They decide to create an online store were you never have to leave your house to order your glasses. You can browse all the options and order from home. On top of that they’ll be a direct to market wholesaler, buy direct from the manufacturer and sell direct to the public.
Cut out some of the middlemen and lower the cost of the glasses. Make the process easier and lower the cost, easy right?
…But then they come up with this list of concerns.
- We’re a new brand; will anyone trust us?
- Will everyone think that the lower price means lower quality?
- Will people be hesitant to make a higher cost purchase without feeling or wearing the product?
To help mitigate these concerns Warby Parker decides-
“We’ll use to social media to tell our story. We’ll tell everyone about our journey. We’ll help them out by providing a ton of helpful information on glasses and vision health in general. While we’re at it lets have our customers pick five pairs of glasses, we’ll ship them to their home and they can send back what the don’t like free.”
Now they have done two things. They are talking to their audience and they have removed as many obsticles as possible that might have delayed purchasing.
To top it off they then began to invite their customers to share their experience and participate in the narrative. Customers are invited to share pictures of their glasses on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. When they get their five pairs to try on customers are invited to share the experience on social media.
Aside from providing great glasses Warby Parker has focused on creating and providing some of the best content to help educate their audience on all eye health issues. They also encourage their customers to do the same by creating informative videos on YouTube.
Now let’s compare Warby Parkers execution with the key topics from this week’s reading.
When it comes to community, did they have all the elements? In my opinion I would say they did.
Membership – is gained through interaction. As a customer receives their five pairs and shares the experience they go through a small right-of-passage. It’s just what Warby Parker customers do.
Shared Emotional Connection – From the first time a customer interacts with the brand they begin to share the positive feelings and experiences of other customers. Then as they purchase and repost that emotion is shared back to the community.
Membership Influence – The community is constantly invited to participate and share at every stage of their interactions. Give a review, showcase your style, or share important information.
Needs Fulfilment – Community members know where to get professional advice and help with vision related concerns. They get a quality product at greater convenience and a better price.
To further cement what Warby Parker got right from the beginning, Hootsuite posted an article on User-Generated content listing Creating Trust, Driving Purchasing Decisions, and Promoting Authenticity as top reason for promoting user-generated content.
While I feel their entire strategy encompasses all those aspects, Hootsuite uses non-other than Warby Parker as their example of Promoting Authenticity. You can find the article here – A Marketer’s Guide to Using User-Generated Content on Social Media
After creating a strong community Warby Parker’s use of new and old channels hit the right cords with their audience as well.
They used a new channel, social media, and a new technology, e-commerce, to provide a better way to get a traditional product. They also close the gap by offering not just a virtual way to try their product, but they provide a traditional trial method through a traditional distribution channel used in an innovative way.
What I think is the cherry on top of all this is that social media was still a new channel at the time, and they didn’t have a class or a book like this to point out all these best practices.
I can only assume that listening to and constantly interacting with their audience was what guided them to make right decisions.
I think we can take that as one of the core lessons from this case study.