20/20 Strategy: Warby Parker’s Secrets to Social Media Success

It’s no secret that eyewear company Warby Parker is great at social media. Search Google using the terms “Warby Parker” and “social media success” and you’ll find plenty of articles about how adept they are at engaging people in a very 21st-century fashion. But what exactly is it that Warby Parker does so well, and how can your brand apply these tactics to your own social media efforts? Prepare to take notes because I’m going to break it all down for you, right here, right now.

Committing to User-Generated Content

Like many brands, Warby Parker realized early on that tapping into the power of user-generated content (UGC) was a smart move. But for them, it’s so much more than encouraging followers to participate in hashtag campaigns or contests. By delegating some of their brand-building responsibilities to their fans, Warby Parker has given their audience an active role in creating their story.

UGC is part of their storyline

There’s nothing better than when a brand encourages fans to post content for a campaign and then actually uses some of that material on their social channels and blog.

Warby Parker does this especially well. But even better, they don’t just repost brand-related photos and videos created by influencers; they consistently feature content created by real people. For example, this post by an Instagram user with less than 1,000 followers:

For the average Warby Parker fan who doesn’t have a gazillion friends on social media, this means that they, too, have the opportunity to create content that gets reposted by the brand and is seen by millions. In today’s social media-driven world, this is equivalent to getting your 15 minutes of fame, not to mention a nice boost in new followers at the same time.

Check out the rest of this post on the Warby Parker blog.

The lesson: There’s nothing better than when a bunch of Instagrammers tag their pics with your brand’s campaign hashtag. However, if you fail to repurpose some of that UGC for your brand channels, you’re missing an opportunity to engage your fans by inviting them into your story as co-creators. Show them you appreciate the effort they put into creating branded content by reposting some of the best photos or videos, regardless of how many followers they have.

But reposts aren’t the only way they say “thanks!”

Now you might be thinking, “What about all the other people who share content with the #WarbyParker hashtag and don’t get reposted by the brand?” Rest assured Warby Parker doesn’t let those posts go to waste. They show appreciation for their fans by liking and commenting on the majority of posts containing the #WarbyParker hashtag or @warbyparker tag. “Love those frames!” and “Thanks for sharing!” are just a couple of the quick, friendly comments they make about a follower’s UGC.

I’ve posted my fair share of #WarbyParker photos, and the company has engaged with every one of them. Every. Single. One.

Exhibit A: Here’s a photo I posted to my personal Facebook profile about how much I love my new Warby Parker specs. Before sharing, I tagged the Warby Parker Facebook page in the caption and changed the privacy settings on the post to “public” so it would show up in their page notifications as a mention. (Yeah, yeah, I admit it: I’m a huge social media nerd…and proud of it!)

Warby Parker noticed my post and responded with a nice little note in the comments. It was a small gesture, but one that said, “Hey, we keep track of people who mention us, and wanted to say thanks for posting about our brand. We appreciate you taking the time to share this pic with your friends, and we wanted to say thanks. You rock! Keep it up! Also, those frames make you look super smart. #JustSayin.” Well, that’s what it felt like they were saying, at least…

The Lesson: Even if a fan’s pic isn’t worthy of reposting, that doesn’t mean you can’t say “thanks for sharing!” with a simple Facebook comment or double-tap (“Like”) on their Instagram post. Whether your UGC campaign is short- or long-term, acknowledge all your fans and their brand-related content to keep the momentum going. This is the easiest way to “spread the love,” not to mention build awareness about your brand, without feeling obligated to repost content that doesn’t jibe with your brand’s visual identity.

Putting Engagement First

Social media is an ideal tool for addressing customer service inquiries. Twitter especially is widely used by brands to field these types of comments from followers, which benefits both the consumer and the company; the brand is able to easily address problems with orders, products and other issues that a customer may be experiencing, and (usually) provide a solution in a quick 140-character tweet. I’m a huge fan of brands using social media for customer service purposes, but when a company takes their follower engagement to the next level by responding to all comments, that’s—for lack of a better phrase—flippin’ awesome.

Wondering what this looks like when a brand does it well? Here’s a great example of how Warby Parker uses Twitter to engage with customers who have questions, as well as followers who are spreading the word about their brand:

Responding to comments like these ensures followers that neither kudos nor complaints fall on deaf ears.

The lesson: It goes without saying that it’s important for your brand to address customer service inquiries on social media. However, if you want to come across as both approachable and appreciative of your followers (and not just in times of need, like when dealing with a free-shipping fiasco), make it a priority to also react to kudos-related tweets and posts. Similar to my discussion above about engaging with UGC, replying to these posts shows that you’re listening and eager to respond.

Cross-Promoting Social Channels Like a Boss

If your fans love your brand, they’ll want to follow your accounts on the social networks they use the most—provided that you share different content on each channel. Warby Parker does a stellar job of cross-promoting their social channels by sharing bits and pieces of exclusive content that is unique to each channel. Essentially, they’re tapping into what millennials have dubbed “FOMO,” or Fear Of Missing Out. Not only is “FOMO” a real phenomenon, but brands that harness its power to cross-promote their social channels can experience some outstanding results.

Exhibit A: In this Instagram post, Warby Parker effectively promotes their Snapchat account while encouraging fans to contribute ideas for a chance to have their idea featured in a Snapchat story at the same time. #Winning

Exhibit B: And here’s a fun behind-the-scenes video posted on the brand’s Instagram. The accompanying caption encourages followers to add Warby Parker on Snapchat to watch more of the 60-second dance party:

Sharing a sneak peek of what followers on one social network (like Instagram) are missing if they aren’t following the brand on another (like Snapchat) is a great way to build an audience across multiple channels. When fans follow Warby Parker on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, they’re rewarded with exclusive access to content that’s unique to each brand channel. Can you say #Insider?

The Lesson: Cross-promoting your social channels is an effective way to build a fan base across all your brand pages. However, when doing so you must give your audience a really good reason to follow you on more than just one channel; this will come in the form of unique content, exclusively available on each channel.

Sure, it’s easy to upload the same photo and caption to each across the board, but then you’re not giving your Facebook fans a reason to follow you on Twitter, or getting your Twitter followers to add you on Snapchat. There’s nothing wrong with posting some of the same content on your channels, but incorporating a few unique posts into your content calendar for each page will keep your fans coming back to all of them for more.

Killin’ it With Behind-the-Scenes Content

Sharing behind-the-scenes content is key to showing your social media audience that you’re human. And let’s face it: Humans like to engage with other humans, not faceless brands shouting about why they’re awesome. Warby Parker puts a face—and sometimes, multiple faces—to their brand with fun snaps and insider videos taken by team members and posted in the moment.

This post is simple and to the point, and similar to what followers are sharing on their own social media. This gives the brand a personality that is both relatable and engaging—something to which social media users naturally gravitate.

To promote store openings Warby Parker chooses to post unedited group shots of the team taken on location, rather than a stylized pic captured by a fancy photographer.

The Lesson: Behind-the-scenes content is a non-negotiable for all brands. Fans expect that when they follow you on social media, they’ll be able to see a new side of your company—a more approachable, uncut version that isn’t perfectly polished. The amount of behind-the-scenes content that you post is up to you and should be different for each channel. For instance, it makes sense to offer up more raw, behind-the-scenes content on channels like Snapchat and Instagram than you would on YouTube or LinkedIn. Followers expect imperfection on these app-based channels, and while you don’t have to deliver on that expectation every time you upload a Snap or Instagram a pic, it should be an element of your plan.

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A commitment to UGC and audience engagement, tactful cross-promotion of social channels and zeal for providing fans with exclusive content are just a few of the reasons why Warby Parker is so successful on social. By incorporating these approaches into your brand’s social media strategy, over time it could yield some seriously favorable results. Just remember to keep an eye on your analytics and make adjustments as needed.

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