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Toms’ back-to-school Pinterest campaign redirects to sales

Apparel brand Toms is using pinning platform Pinterest for a back-to-school campaign encouraging fans to repin their favorite apparel trends, among Toms’ products, to gain a chance to win a $500 Toms gift card.

A brand known for its shoes and “one-for-one” slogan, Toms aims to promote its other products by suggesting the idea a student can wear Toms from head to toe. Given the brand’s presence on Instagram and Pinterest, a high number of fans are likely to come across the request and commit to it.

“There are at least two main reasons for choosing this method of promotion,” said Jay Hawkinson, senior vice president of emerging products at SIM Partners, Chicago. “One is for the growth of these social channels and followers.

“With approximately 47,000 followers on Pinterest and 314,000 on Instagram compared to over 2 million each at both Facebook and Twitter, running a campaign at these other platforms can help build a stronger, more influential follower base.”

Mr. Hawkinson is not affiliated with Toms but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Toms did not respond by press deadline.

Promoting back-to-school
Toms published an Instagram post promoting the Pinterest campaign. The post included a set of detailed instructions for participants to follow.

Fans were instructed to create a pin board titled “#Toms Give Back to School Contest,” fill it with their favorite apparel styles and use the aforementioned hashtag in all posts.

Toms not only utilizes the time of year for its campaign but also an image-based platform, which has been deemed successful.

“The visual nature of the campaign provides inherent share capabilities, knowing that images have become a key component for increasing engagement in social media,” Mr. Hawkinson said. “Both Pinterest and Instagram have proven to be successful for retailers showcasing products through image curation.”

“Forming a campaign around Pinterest is a smart tactic because now followers and fans of Toms’ products will be looking for the images they like the most to qualify for the contest. Engagement increases since fans curate the contest.

“Essentially, this is a way for Toms to get more visibility via image shares throughout the platform and potentially grow their fan base in Pinterest.”

A campaign like this is can drive enough user engagement to direct them to the site to make a purchase.

Finding an edge
Marketing experts believe fair trade retailers possibly have an edge through social campaigns.

Retailers focused on fair trade products such as The Little Market and Toms are successfully harnessing Instagram to communicate an emotional message and engage mobile users.

By establishing an emotional connection through images, these marketers are able to deepen their relationship with consumers and bring them into the purchase funnel. Fair trade retailers hold an advantage on the platform by conveying to the consumer the authenticity and realism behind the making of the products (see story).

In 2012, Toms built up hype for its annual One Day Without Shoes campaign with a mobile application for iPhone and Android devices.

The Toms app aimed at creating a digital hub of content that users could download to learn more about the April 10 event. The Toms One Day Without Shoes app aggregated digital content about the campaign. When users opened the app, they were prompted to watch a video that explains the one-day campaign to users. The video featured Toms founder Blake Mycoskie, who serves as the main public figure of the brand (see story).

A brand like Toms can benefit from mobile activity due to the importance and attractiveness of imagery.

“This is a smart move by Toms to leverage their consumers’ passionate engagement with their products on social commerce sites,” said Doug Chavez, global head of marketing research and content at Kenshoo, San Francisco.

Mr. Chavez is not affiliated with Toms but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

“While product listing ads and search continue to drive more than half of all site traffic for retailers, social commerce sites such as Pinterest are driving big gains in traffic and sales for retailers,” he said.

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon, editorial assistant for Mobile Commerce Daily, New York