Last week the ladies of Myth + Symbol joined us to co-host a lecture and Q&A session on Branding and Social Media. In case you missed it, below is a review of what we covered. If you have any questions for us and/or Myth & Symbol, feel free to shoot us a message.
Strong branding is essential to the success of any company and a key point of differentiation between your company and your competitors. The best branding elicits an emotional and personal response with the customer.
Think of your favorite brand(s), whether it be clothing, technology, whatever it may be. Why do you like that brand so much? Sure, you may feel like they put out a quality product, but chances are you can personally identify and connect with the brand’s ethos. This is how brands develop cult followings. The customer feels a part of a movement, rather than just someone who bought some stuff.
Before we discuss how The Class Room and Myth & Symbol use social media to develop, communicate, and reinforce our brands, one must understand what our brands stand for and the meaning behind our brands.
In regards to The Class Room, there were a couple main reasons why we started the store. We felt like a greater number of young men, including ourselves, wanted to stop dressing like boys and teenagers and start dressing like the professional men that they are. Men have become increasingly aware of their appearance and wanting to dress “classier”, but with a hip, modern twist. Furthermore, we wanted to help educate men. We wanted to educate and inform not only of things related to style and clothes, but of things that we feel men should know about for a well-rounded, fulfilling life, such as great food, drinks, travel destinations, local events, etc. Hence, we came up with The Class Room (a deviation from the standard “classroom” spelling) and developed our motto/core values of “Life. Style. Class.” You can think of it in several different ways: “We’re a Room full of Class”, OR “The Class Room teaches a lifestyle class”, OR “Live life with style and class”, etc. I could on regarding the different ways we interpret and flip our motto and core values, but you get the idea.
Switching gears to Myth & Symbol, a focus of theirs is to shine light on the story behind the products. As opposed to mass produced trinkets with no soul, Myth & Symbol carries a carefully curated selection of clothing, accessories, pottery, literature, and art, each with a unique story. In-store displays and narratives found on their webstore give customers insight to each piece and the designers making them. Myth & Symbol customers know everything in the store was meticulously designed with care, resulting in a truly unique product.
With that basic understanding of our respective brands, how then do we use social media?
The goals of retailers when using social media can be broken down into 3 facets: (1) developing and reinforcing the brand’s message/ethos, (2) communicating and connecting with brand supporters (i.e. customers), and (3) advertising/sales.
When creating content for social media it should address at least one of these goals. Most of your content should address (1) and (2), while sprinkling in (3) here and there. Nobody likes it when somebody constantly tries to sell them on something. In contrast, if you focus on content that address (1) and (2), followers will buy into the brand’s message and feel connected to the brand, therefore developing a loyal following.
The main social media TCR and M&S use are Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. TCR also uses Tumblr to blog original content and reblog “things that inspire us”. M&S has a blog embedded on their website as well.
First things first, almost everything is pushed to Facebook. People check Facebook constantly, and even if they’re not posting or commenting on things, they’re checking their news feed. So if content is originally posted on IG, Twitter, or the blog, it should almost always be pushed to Facebook.
At least for TCR and M&S specifically, Instagram has proven the most powerful and engaging social medium. We’ll post things like behind the scenes work of photoshoots, sneak previews of new arrivals, when we go out to eat at really cool restaurants, when we attend other local businesses’ functions, small details to specific products, etc. These are the kinds of things that help people feel connected to a brand.
Twitter can be a powerful tool to connect with followers and communicate with them directly. But to be honest for our two businesses specifically, Twitter isn’t used as often as replying to Instagram and Facebook comments to engage with people. I think a large part of it has to do with the fact that both our businesses started a couple of years ago and our growth coincided with Instagram’s growth in popularity. Therefore followers tended to follow us on Instagram rather than Twitter.
TCR uses Tumblr as an inspiration board to share and reblog things that inspire our style and lifestyle. Since we are a men’s clothing store, we try to make the majority of what we post pertinent to men’s style. But we’ll still post things related to music, design and architecture, people that inspire us, etc. to reinforce our Life.Style.Class ethos. (Also, those types of things gets likes and reblogs, which help grow our reach). We also post what I call “long-form” editorial content to Tumblr, such as style how-to’s, or recaps of lectures like the post you are currently reading. This content reinforces our mission to educate and inform our followers.
Social media is a unique tool that allows you to connect with a large number of people/followers/customers, and provides a public 2-way line of communication that didn’t really exist beforehand. Making your brand’s social media experience personal and personable will strengthen relationships with existing followers, and help grow your presence to new followers (especially if you’re a brand just starting out).
It is imperative, though, to keep from crossing the line into “TOO personal”. For the purposes of growing your brand, you don’t want to post too many pictures on Instagram or Facebook of you getting ratchet with your friends every Friday, or of your dog, or of the cute girl in the coffee shop you just snuck a creeper pic of. When people start following your brand’s social media, it’s because they want to connect to the BRAND, not necessarily you the person. Every now and then these type of posts can be ok, as they show there are real people behind the brand, but most of what’s posted to your brand’s social media should somehow promote the 3 goals I talked about earlier: (1) developing and reinforcing the brand’s message/ethos, (2) communicating and connecting with brand supporters (i.e. customers), and (3) advertising/sales.
When new people come across your social media for the first time, they make a snap judgement as to whether or not you’re cool enough to follow. They look at the quality and type of content you post to IG, they see the comments people post to the Facebook wall, they browse through your Tumblr to see if you post cool stuff, they read your Twitter timeline to see what kind of Tweets you post, etc. It’s important to put out quality content, and to put it out consistently and frequently.
In closing, there aren’t always black and white answers as to what you should be posting, where you should be posting, and how you should be posting to social media. At the end of the day, you’ll need to figure out what works best for YOU and YOUR BRAND. We can only give you tips on what’s worked for us that may help you get started, but something completely different may work better for you. The important thing is to start, consistently be active on social media, and make adjustments as necessary.
TL;DR - Branding is an important differentiating factor, and good branding creates an emotional and personal connection with customers/followers. The goals of social media are: (1) developing and reinforcing the brand’s message/ethos, (2) communicating and connecting with brand supporters (i.e. customers), and (3) advertising/sales.