Ted Baker on why its Instagram success is down to organic reach not its ad formats

Ted Baker has eschewed traditional channels and is instead directing its marketing efforts to the likes of Instagram where it can focus on organic reach rather than paid, a target it hopes to get closer to through its latest ‘treasure hunt’ on the social network.

Called #CabinetofCuriosities, the activity is the digital activation of its AW15 campaign ‘Curiosities’ which began last month with an online film set in the Natural History Museum.

Over the next two weeks, the retailer’s 230,000 Instagram followers globally will be given daily clues and asked to guess the item hidden in Ted Baker’s Instagram cabinet and either leave a comment, tag a friend or regram the image to win a prize. It will also, for the first time, play out offline where the Instagram clue will lead to an item at a selected store where players can take a picture tag it using the dedicated hashtag.

It is the latest bid to amass an audience organically from the retailer which has preferred to harness Instagram’s creative platform after running the ‘Pinch Me’ campaign earlier this year. Each day, a new image was released on the Ted Baker page and followers were asked to screen grab it and rework the image with Instagram’s native filters and exposure tools to find concealed content.

Speaking to The Drum, senior marketer at Ted Baker Laura Berest – who has managed the ‘Cabinet of Curiosity’ activity along with agency partner Poke London – said the success of its Instagram campaigns has validated its strategy of “non-advertising”.

“People respond to it in a much better way, people believe it,” she said, explainging investment in original content has been behind the success over simply repurposing campaign images or using Instagram’s ad units which “people are too savvy to now."

“There’s a lot in the press that Facebook own Instagram and it’s not a secret thing that people aren’t aware of, or understand. People know the mechanics, who’s in charge, what people are paying for [an ad].”

Eschewing paid for media has also extended to how it works with celebrity personalities, bloggers and vloggers who have been under the spotlight for how brand-backed content is sign-posted. Ted Baker’s Instagram following is littered with images of so-called influencers but none have been born out of a contract, instead Ted Baker has simply reposted content it has been sent.

While growing its channels organically through original content may aid better engagement, measuring success has proven trickier without the access to Facebook's owned-Instagram’s plathora of analytics tools.

Ted Baker can track softer brand metrics such as followers and hashtag use, but impact on the bottom line is not as clear cut. However, proving that link from post to checkout is becoming increasingly important as the ties between social and commerce tighten.

Efforts from the fashion house to link likes to sales has seen the creation of ‘Ted to Toe’, an ongoing initiative that pulls any images from Instagram with the #tedtotoe hashtag into a shoppable page on the brands website.

Two years in - and still without an above-the-line ad in sight - the startegy appears to be working. Ted Baker's interim results will be announced in October, but revenue for the full year is expected to grow 18 per cent.

Jennifer Faull

The Drum senior reporter Jen Faull provides news and insight on the latest developments in retail and FMCG.

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