Since Margarete Steiff founded the brand in 1880 with her first elephant-shaped pin cushion, Steiff has upheld its credo “Only the best is good enough for children”. All of the plushies that Steiff creates exceed the highest standards of workmanship, quality, and safety, and in 2017, neulandherzer became responsible for launching the beloved toy company into the digital realm.
Where Cuddly Creatures Star in Their Own Shows
neulandherzer handles digital communications for Steiff’s Instagram and global Facebook page covering the German, French, and other global markets. In 2017, we built up Steiff channels from humble followings by employing the following storytelling strategy: Steiff’s cuddly creatures became the stars of their own storylines. A Steiff kitten and a real kitten organizing their yarn, a little dragon lost for words at the beauty of a starry night, a bear-y merry version of a classic Christmas movie…Steiff supplies the product shots and we create graphics, placing Steiff’s adorable cast of furry characters in fun scenarios. We thought this method of bringing Steiff toys to life would gain more followers for Steiff, and we were right. What we didn’t realize is that narrativizing the fascinating lives of Steiff’s plushies would provide us with content as limitless as our own creativity. That’s been a big lesson: if content is fun to create, it will be fun to follow.
We invested in paid media from the very beginning to make sure our plushies’ tales were seen far and wide. Truth be told, when you put so much love into a project, you want as many eyes on it as possible. We were truly, deeply invested in finding out if people loved Steiff social media storylines as much as we did, and this quest drove many of our actions. We further investigated our social media impact by geo-targeting people in the vicinity of Steiff retail locations and creating social sales campaigns for events like ‘Back to School’. Each push resulted in more engagement and higher sales without exception, so we knew we were onto something.
In the interest of gaining more exposure for Steiff, we executed a partnership with National Geographic to protect animals at risk for extinction. We also carried out a partnership with the Steigenberger Hotel Group, which led to more followers and further credibility. We thought it would be fun to post live Instagram stories on location at toy fairs, and get some influencers in on the Steiff action. Today, we manage a community of over 47k+ followers and we continue to learn and grow simply by crafting wonderful stories to suit Steiff’s wonderful product.
Steiff has a sterling reputation: adoring customers grew up with the brand. Interestingly enough, however, different demographics have different interests. Whereas some customers are parents shopping for their children, other customers are serious toy collectors. Our social strategy must appeal to both groups. The Steiff price point can also be a challenge. With so many mass-produced, lower quality toys on the market today, Steiff customers can experience sticker shock with a lovingly crafted Steiff plushie. Competing with the fast fashion equivalent of toys requires real wit, creativity, and consistently compelling storytelling.
In fact, we learned that if you want to grow any kind of social media account, you have to believe your own stories. When you love the captions you’re writing and the images you’re creating, audiences can tell. So no matter how diverse your audience is, or who your competitors are, you have to have fun with it! To grow with authenticity and integrity, you simply have to follow your curiosity. Steiff’s digital presence brings us back to our childhoods, and that’s the best reminder there is to pursue your client projects with wonder and imagination.