Countless people increased their social media time during COVID-19. San Francisco-based shoe brand Birdies used this increase to its advantage, employing a hyper-focused social media strategy to grow revenue by over 200%.
Between its user-generated content, influencer contracts, and branded hashtag campaigns, it’s no surprise Birdies is such a fast-growing company. The team behind its iron-clad social media strategy has figured out exactly how to connect with its target audience of femme wearers who seek a comfortable flat without compromising on style.
Birdies Relies on User-Generated Content to Connect with Its Audience
Take a quick scroll through Birdies’ Instagram account, and the first thing you’ll notice is that almost all of its content comes from customers hyping their comfy slippers rather than editorialized images with models. When you consider 84% of millennials say user-generated content (UGC) — content created by actual customers and not the brand — has an effect on what they buy, it makes sense that Birdies would want to capitalize on this tactic.
UGC is a highly effective way to grow a following because it builds brand loyalty and trust. Followers can see that real people posted about your products because they genuinely liked them, not because they received a financial incentive.
Birdies encourages users to tag the company in their posts often. So long as it’s a high-quality and on-brand post, there is a big chance Birdies will feature them.
This post is effective because it shows off how actual customers style their Birdies shoes, as @thedarkplum does with her Heron slip-ons. Both new and current followers to Birdies’ page will find posts like this valuable to see if these shoes fit their style.
While this post doesn’t show an outfit or styling, it still works because it shows off the lifestyle of someone who would typically wear a pair of Birdies shoes.
In this case, the targeted audience is any person who loves to curate beautiful and colorful moments, like this well-framed snapshot of shoes and flowers against a clean backdrop. This kind of content is compelling to users because it embodies qualities they already have or want.
Birdies Contracts with Influencers to Boost Brand Credibility
Consumers (especially Gen Z) are more likely to purchase a product when it’s hyped by a friend, family member, or influential person. That’s a big reason why influencer marketing works — and why companies that invest in influencer partnerships or brand ambassador programs see growth.
Birdies has perfected the art of influencer marketing — but it happened almost by accident. In 2018, Meghan Markle was photographed by paparazzi wearing the stylish suede Starling flat. Prior to this, Birdies was largely relying on word-of-mouth through social media by giving free products to influencers — a common approach for many e-commerce brands looking to scale quickly. But this moment led to a waitlist of 30,000 for Birdies loafers.
For a March 2022 campaign, Birdies went beyond the traditional influencer approach of sending products to fans to hype on social media. Instead, the brand partnered with influencers Blair Imani and Brigette Romanek as the face of its campaign for a new lace-up walking shoe, combining influencer marketing with paid advertising.
An integrated campaign helps you stretch your marketing budget and reach even more potential customers. This kind of approach makes a lot of sense when you consider global social commerce sales are valued at around $958 billion. So, including a traditional paid campaign with influencer marketing is a strategic move — the influencers you choose for your social campaigns can also drive sales outside of the social media sphere.
Birdies also has a creator community program that influencers can apply to in order to become brand ambassadors. This is different from traditional UGC because these creators usually have a larger, dedicated following and seek financial compensation for posting.
Any influencer who is chosen to become a part of Birdies’ exclusive group gains early access to promotions, special product discounts, and free products in exchange for content.
There’s a selection process and only those with a good brand fit are chosen. For Birdies, this looks like someone who is, in its own words, “stylish, smart-as-hell, [and] comfort-obsessed.”
Because it uses a brand ambassador platform to manage its creator community, Birdies can easily manage its influencers’ payouts and high-quality social media content from creators — all in one place.
Birdies Uses Branded Hashtag Campaigns to Fuel Engagement
Branded hashtags are useful for marketing campaigns because they are easily trackable and lead to more followers, engagement, and eventual customers. They’re a low lift with a huge ROI potential.
Not only can users tag you in their posts, but they can also follow specific hashtags. So, any posts with those hashtags will show up in their feed, giving you the potential for even more engagement.
Birdies makes use of branded hashtags to generate excitement about new products and promotions, including #boldinbirdies — its newest campaign to profile amazing people who wear Birdies slippers.
#mybirdiesmyway is a long-running community-focused hashtag campaign. It encourages customers to show off the variety of ways they wear Birdies flats.
#birdiespartner is a specific hashtag for Birdies brand ambassadors. This is an easy way for Birdies partners to share whether or not a post is sponsored or paid-for content — not only a useful tool for inspiring brand trust but also a legal requirement.
It’s easy to create a branded hashtag. Here’s how to get started:
- Make it campaign-specific. Keep in mind, a hashtag that uses a common phrase will pick up a lot of unrelated content, but one that’s branded and specific will center the conversation on your brand. For example, #rockclimbing might leave you with a lot of engagement but nothing specific to your brand or its products. The tag #RockOutClimbingGym is more specific and will lead to targeted engagement from people who want to interact with your brand.
- Keep it short. You can technically make a hashtag as long as the social media platform will allow (for example, Instagram’s captions are 2,200 characters long — that’s a huge hashtag). But the best tags are short, sweet, and easy to remember.
- Integrate your business’ name or brand-specific language. This is a great idea to generate brand awareness, so your name becomes more and more familiar with your audience over time.
- Place it in your profile. Include your branded hashtag in the description of your social media profiles so that anyone who visits your profile can see it. Be sure to encourage followers to use your hashtag often by adding it as a call to action in posts, Stories, and videos. For example, “Tag us in your posts with #GetFitAsheville to share!”
- Measure results at the end of the campaign. Take a look at how your hashtags perform over time. You’ll want to see how many people use the tag and how many impressions your hashtag gets per post. If you want to run an evergreen or long-running campaign, consider checking in once every few months.
Birdies Shoes’ Social Media Strategy Works Because It Delivers What the Audience Wants
The best marketing strategies are those that are in tune with their audience. Birdies is no exception.
Birdies founder, Bianca Gates, knows the importance of understanding its audience:
“We are constantly surveying our community to see what they want from us, what they need from us, what is working and what is not working. As a result of this listening, we immediately pivoted our social strategy to create content that was relatable to what our community was going through but also that kept them inspired during this time.”
No matter what kind of retailer you are, a growth marketing tool like Extole is a powerful way to stay on top of a customer-led social media strategy. You’ll be able to manage influencer programs and stay on top of payouts and rewards cycles, so you can focus on building relationships with influencers who best fit your brand’s target audience.
On top of managing influencer campaigns, a growth marketing tool can also help you identify new creators to work with. This way, you can easily build an always-on network of high-performing creators to keep the stellar content coming.