I’m back in Long Beach and I’m still coming down from information and idea overload I experienced at the Web 2.0 Expo this week. I started digging into my tote bag of handouts and other goodies from the Expo Hall to pass out to the right teams, and I still have a lot to sift through. I’ll probably need to do a series of blog posts or something with more interesting tidbits from the week. To start, here’s something insightful from my last day in SF.
I went to a session on about Brands and Customer Communication and one of the speakers was Ilana Rabinowitz from Lion Brand Yarn. When you think of a yarn company, you might not think of a company that’s on the forefront of social media, but I love how the Lion Brand Yarn uses their social media presence as a way to connect with their customers. Ilana spoke about the fact that, at the core, all of the decisions they make are based on emotions, including their buying decisions. At the craft store, their products are just one section of a huge wall of yarn; social media lets them create that emotional bond with their customers.
Go to their Facebook page to see how they’re creating a community surrounding their brand. They aren’t just racking up “Likes” for the sake of having a large number; their fans are commenting on posts and contributing to the community. In late April they asked a simple question – “What’s your favorite rainy day crochet or knit project?” – and they received over 860 responses. Similarly, their blog posts give customers the opportunity to share their experiences and points of view. A good example is when they asked which activity “makes you better,” knitting or crocheting. Browsing through the hundreds of comments, you’ll read some simple and some emotional words about what knitting or crocheting brings to a customer’s life. And those emotions are immediately getting attached to Lion Brand Yarn who gave them this forum to share. (You can check out some top responses in this later blog post.
When someone has a knitting question on Twitter, @lionbrandyarn comes to the rescue. One user received a handy tip from Lion Brand via Twitter and re-tweeted it to her followers, thanking @lionbrandyarn. The brand also posts demos on YouTube with over 120,000 channel views. They also give free patterns and discounts to people in their community. Their President did a video thanking their Facebook Fans when they reached 50,000 Fans.
Social media has given Lion Brand a way to build a customer base with an emotional connection to the brand, and this connection not only translates into paying customers but also brand advocates. Ilana told a funny story about how, for Earth Hour, they announced they were going to turn off the lights for one hour in an effort to affect climate change. Apparently, the words “climate change” created a firestorm among some customers who didn’t believe in that concept. But the funny thing is, before Lion Brand had to jump in, their own customers were defending the brand for them. By creating that emotional connection, their customers felt the need to stick up for the brand.
When I think about how I’d like to feel about the brands in my life, I wish I knew more that were doing what Lion Brand Yarn is doing.