Glossier and Freshly Picked are two start-ups with completely different products but very similar, and very effective, social media techniques. Those social media techniques have launched both brands to awesome heights, with loyal fan bases second to none. To understand how these companies achieved such success, we have to look at where they started.
Glossier was preceded by and created from a blog known as Into The Gloss by Emily Weiss. That would be the same Emily Weiss who gained notoriety and a tremendous following after her appearance in MTV’s The Hills alongside Lauren Conrad. Propelled by her exponentially growing online following, she started the beauty, fashion, and all-around lifestyle blog Into The Gloss.
On her blog, she would take her audience through the bathroom shelves of celebrities, corporate executives, and every-day women, while Ms. Weiss would casually interview them and learn about their make-up, fashion, and daily routines. These behind the scenes interviews, recorded and posted on Instagram and other social media outlets, grew Emily’s audience and online following even more. These behind the scenes sneak peeks into the lives of women from every walk of life was a favorite among her readers and became known as Top Shelf.
The interviews, while beauty focused, had a certain personal touch, making the content accessible and relatable to the coveted 18-35 year old demographic. As Into The Gloss’s following grew, Emily Weiss took what she had learned from her discussions and interviews with hundreds of women to determine what they were most looking for in make-up products, and what they felt was most lacking. From this and an insatiable drive, she founded her own beauty line, Glossier.
Glossier continues to not only post behind the scenes stories, but they engage with their audience, as well. They respond to questions posted on social media, they like or comment on nearly every post that they’re tagged in, and what’s more – they use social media to hire both their models and employees (many of which are one in the same).
By engaging through provocatively thoughtful content and establishing a resounding following, Glossier was able to grow as a company. They succeeded, excelled, and surpassed expectations by not only engaging with their audience online, but by actually seeking out their next employee, model, or great idea for a new product by social media crowdsourcing.
Freshly Picked, on the other hand, was created out of a mom’s frustration due to the apparent absence of well-crafted baby shoes. Susan Petersen was that mom, and she decided to design and create a pair of moccasins that both looked great on her son’s feet and, more importantly, actually stayed on.
In 2014, she appeared on Shark Tank and not only secured the funding she needed, but also astonished Mark Cuban, who said Susan had “the best story to start a company” he has ever heard. The story was that Susan Petersen started her business by knocking out broken window frames and recycling the aluminum, for which she was paid $200 for her labors. With that, she purchased leather to make more moccasins.
Susan’s story of how she turned $200 to an ultra-successful start-up is as rare as it is inspirational. But Freshly Picked needed more than a story and a good – even great – product, and Susan was acutely aware of that.
She realized to reach her desired community she had to interact with them, listen to them, and most importantly, appear accessible to her now enormous consumer base. In early 2012, at the time of this realization, she had 600 Instagram followers. She set a goal for herself: by the end of the year, she would have 10,000 followers. On December 28, 2012, she succeeded in that goal. She now has 795.6k followers at the time of this writing.
The key to Freshly Picked’s success is due to a cult-like following on social media, an interactive digital community, blogging, and – as any great company needs – excellent customer service.
Susan told Forbes Magazine that she believes, “The consumer brand story of the past has been: let’s create this product we think that we can sell and go straight to retailers with it. But now, with social media, you are really able to launch a company and get the support of your friends and their friends and so on. Word of mouth is just so powerful. Our followers are amazing[.] Instagram is our largest platform; our community knows that every comment or question they leave will be answered…”
And that’s the thread that ties these two successful start-ups together: a profound passion for online engagement. Whether that means filming behind the scenes interviews with celebrities and passionate brand loyalists, or being able to organically grow an audience through personalized digital communication and online word of mouth, the bottom line remains the same. These two companies are both engaging and fun to follow and interact with. After all, why would it matter how engaging a company is on social media if their engagement and content is a bore?