DTC success story Bark has built its strong following thanks to its creative (read: wacky) social campaigns. The Drum asked its social lead Alexis Nelson to share a few new tricks for the old dogs in the world.
Social at Bark has always been an enormous part of our DNA as a company for everything from customer support to content to paid media. One of the things that we’ve always prioritized is being in the weeds with customers and trying to engage with as many people as possible who engage with our products.
We went through a meme-worthy comment boot camp with our customer service team, teaching members how to leave noteworthy comments worthy of being shared, while maintaining our dog-loving voice. We used this “silly comment tactic” on every post that came up in our branded hashtags and it helped us grow our accounts significantly.
Today, this commenting strategy has evolved significantly and is one of the most fun and successful things we do for engagement. It even led to a big viral moment for the company when our social team’s comments about a toy from our Thanksgiving box was taken completely out of context. The comments from our team were as much the viral moment as the accidental sex toy.
If you’re looking to spice things up, here are three pieces of advice from our team:
Give yourself the space to be weird
When Instagram began in 2010, it ushered in an era of projected perfection. Perfectly filtered pictures of perfect locations with you perfectly posed with your perfect product placement with a perfectly cute little caption. We saw the rise of the lifestyle influencer and a slew of people who wanted to be just like them, no matter how many pairs of stretchy jeans they had to buy to do it. But then, we got sick of it. We got disenfranchised. We started craving different. We started craving funny. We started craving weird. Brands who adopted a strange and chaotic social voice early were celebrated (Hi, Denny’s), and it’s a wonder more brands haven’t jumped aboard the SS Weirdo.
A lot of our stunts and projects lean into our weird, but there is one where we get to unleash our weirdest selves upon an unsuspecting world. We call this celebration ‘Squirrel Day‘.
For 24 hours, we give the appearance of a hacked page, changing our profile pictures to angry squirrels. Changing our page descriptions to their nut-based demands. And we overwhelm followers with a never-ending onslaught of horribly photoshopped memes and sassy IG story Q&As. We fully committed to the bit, leaving no stone unturned, to the point at which we convinced one of our VPs that our social had truly been compromised.
You’d think our audience would get confused or upset, but the weirdest thing is they love it. Folks are still asking when the “squirrels” will make another appearance. In a world where social media has grown monotonous, don’t be afraid to stand out in the weirdest way possible.
Use influencers wisely
One of the trends in the last couple years has been doubling down on influencer strategies. Too often, brands just focus on follower counts instead of looking at what types of conversations these influencers are starting with the people who follow them. Instead of finding dogs for follower counts and reach, we switched to working with creators who are excited, natural storytellers, with unique dogs. We don’t pay folks to just shill our products, we work with a handful of cool, creative folks with equally cool dogs to help us create better product photography, both for social and ads! Two examples: we love working with folks like @SevenDogSquad or @bully.baloo.
Merge growth marketing learnings and social whenever possible
Our paid and organic social teams meet each week and brainstorm ways to create ads that not only convert, but would also stand alone as entertaining, eye-catching content. One of my favorite successful moments from this internal partnership was our 4/20 collection of toys. By creating ads that sparked conversations with customers, we created shareable ads. When our audience shares our ads, we don’t have to use our wallets to do it. The best part was these ads, the products, and the conversations they caused (shoutout to our first point) became an even larger story.
Most importantly, have fun. Social media is for being social, not just for saying things at people. You hate when your friends dominate conversations, so why are you letting your social media accounts do the same thing? When you have fun making the content, your followers will have fun interacting with it.
Alexis Nelson is the social media manager for Bark, which allows her to combine her two favorite activities: yelling about her dog and yelling about other people’s dogs. Essentially raised by Microsoft Paint and Tumblr, Alexis enjoys tackling the intricacies of effective content marketing and also word art.