SmartWool Moves Toward a Mobile-First Social Strategy

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smartwoolSmartWool, a company that sells hiking and outdoor clothing made from merino wool, knows its customers and fans like the outdoors and being on the go. It made sense, then, for the brand to focus on mobile social outreach -- and it has seen promising results.

“We felt mobile was critical,” said Molly Cuffe, senior manager of global brand communications for SmartWool. “Our fans and enthusiasts are avid outdoor consumers. Whatever we do had to be optimized for mobile phones; there is no question.”

Cuffe said the company has historically relied on strong word-of-mouth referrals and didn’t do any paid advertising until 2011. Now, its campaigns on social amplify the WOM effect -- and give SmartWool content for its traditional ads.

In April 2012, the company launched the "Fanalog," which brings together fan-submitted content and photos of SmartWool products in a Facebook-hosted catalog. The app pulls content from Twitter, Instagram, and other social networks, as well as more traditional channels where fans can provide SmartWool with their photos.

“We don’t have any plans to get rid of Fanalog,” Cuffe said. “Our intention is to use some of this content to create advertising and traditional media using our fans.”

The app allowed fans to submit photos via their mobile devices and SmartWool optimized the presentation of the Fanalog to also work on mobile. The results of the company’s annual Share the Joy campaign around the holidays showed just how much mobile was improving fan interaction.

For Share the Joy 2012, where fans entered Facebook friends for a chance to win SmartWool products, there was a 67% increase in entries compared to 2011 and 75% of all traffic to the Share the Joy app came via mobile, Cuffe said. The mobile boost also helped increase overall social metrics for the Share the Joy campaign: the company’s “People Talking About This” number jumped 330% during the program, and continues to be 25% higher than it was prior to the campaign.

“Desktops are still the primary way that people are loading their photos and how we’re pulling in photos,” Cuffe added. “But over the last 6 to 8 months, we’re starting to see mobile technology come in strong and register in all of our data, not just in our social sphere, but also on our website as well.”

SmartWool works with social marketing technology company Friend2Friend on its mobile ramp-up. In December, Friend2Friend upgraded its social engagement platform, allowing campaigns and apps on Facebook to be optimized for mobile phones and tablets. SmartWool was one of the clients to leverage the mobile-optimized platform, including for the Fanalog.

“Mobile and social were running on parallel train tracks, but they have now converged,” Friend2Friend CEO Roger Katz told AdExchanger. “For everything we do, we make sure we have an eye on mobile and that the campaign can play in a variety of environments.”

Cuffe said SmartWool's  internal discussions about mobile and social have shifted.

“As we go forward, the conversation we now have internally is ‘do we design something to be mobile first and web second?’ she said. ‘The thinking is that you design it for the web and then optimize it for the phone. But we’re reconsidering this and thinking about optimizing for mobile first.”

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