How to Use Social Media for Business: Spanx Highlight

This is part of a series highlighting businesses — small and large, across industries — effectively using social media to connect with their customers, tell their brand story and make sales. Social influence is strong and only getting stronger. Check out the full series on the influence of social media on marketing here.

So we’re all aware of the Spanx phenomenon, right?

No?

OK, short story:

Sara Blakely made Spanx out of pantyhose in her apartment. In 1998 she cut the feet off her control top panty hose and Spanx was born.

Then, she arguably created influencer marketing.

She didn’t spend a dime on advertising or marketing; she just straight hustled and networked her way to people with influence and power and who could just mention the name of her product.

In one outreach instance, she sent a gift basket to Oprah, who wanted to film Sara in action.

And it freaking worked.

Before social influence was even a thing, it became a huge part of the Spanx marketing strategy. By 2012, Blakely was named Forbes’ youngest self-made female billionaire.

Fast forward to today and Spanx is estimated to generate $400 million in sales annually.

While they do spend money — and time — on social media, have you ever seen an ad for Spanx on TV? Or on a radio show?

That’s the beauty of a good product: it sells itself with some encouragement from its fans.

And, even though the product first launched with the internet was still something only computer geeks appreciated, the brand has diversified its marketing and product lines.

Here’s why Spanx’s social media efforts deserve a highlight.

1. Their social media is highly visual

Just check out their Instagram.

It’s young, it’s funny, it’s fun and it’s realistic.

They post a lot of content showing…well, a lot of the same thing. BUT what they’re showing is what all millennials aspire to be: cool enough to rock fashionable, and dressed-up-yet-not-stiff, outfits.

This matters because social media is now a primarily visual medium and marketers can’t afford to look the other way. According to some research:

  • Facebook users are 2.3 times more likely to engage with posts with images
  • Tweets with graphics, photos or videos get 150 percent more retweets compared to tweets with just text

2. Their social media highlights all their products.

Spanx now makes a lot more than just undergarments that squeeze in and flatten bellies and muffin tips.

They now make leggings — aka pants — bras and shirts.

And undies.

And as of September 2017, arm tights, an piece of clothing most women didn’t even know they needed.

So you can now wear an entire Spanx outfit.

Which sounds ridicuclous if you still think of Spanx as underwear, but their frequent Instagram posting demonstrates what that would look like in your regular old life.

And it looks good and is comfortable.

The lesson to be learned here: it’s not necessary to create a new social media profile every time you diversify your product or service offering. In fact, it’s much, much easier to manage the social media — and an entire digital marketing strategy — of one brand, versus breaking up the brand into sub-brands or just by product.

For example, Victoria’s Secret has:

That means that Victoria’s Secret is producing content for all those channels — and really, the PINK line is an extension of their core product: it’s just lingerie for younger women. It’s sold in the same stories — albeit in a different section — from the other products. Both live on the Victoria’s Secret website.

And yet, their social media presence is divided and, as well all know, creating really good content takes time.

This isn’t necessarily bad and it likely held strategic value for Victoria’s Secret at some point.

Spanx, however, focuses on creating likeable and sharable content, showcasing their products, on three channels: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Sometimes less is more.

3. Sara Blakely’s personal brand seamlessly integrates with the Spanx brand

Sometimes it’s hard for a business owner or entrepreneur to separate their social media accounts.

This can result in an awkward, you’re-not-really-sure-who’s-writing-the-posts-or-what-they’re-trying-to-say situation.

With Spanx and Sara Blakely, it’s pretty clear.

Spanx’s social media profiles showcase the bad-ass, high-quality products, while Blakely’s social media is a behind-the-scenes look at what some consider to be a damn unicorn: a woman who grew and continues to grow a multi-million dollar empire, with enough experience and intuition and straight up business intelligence to diversify and pivot to keep growing.

And she does it while wearing red lipstick and juggling four freaking kids.

Amazing.

This speaks volumes to their target demographic (source: I’m in it). The founder/CEO is their biggest advocate, and she’s authentic and open on her personal social media accounts.

She essentially became the influencer she relied on to launch her business.

Building Your Brand Using Social Media

There’s no right way to do it — but looking at Spanx’s and Sara Blakely’s branding and use of social media, you can see the potential.

The potential for building awareness about your product and yourself.

And the potential to put a face to the brand — to become your brand’s biggest ambassador.

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Originally published at Stunning Strategy.