Birdies Shows That Ambassadors > Influencers

Photo Credit: @birdiesslippers

Birdies is a start-up slipper company, based in San Francisco. The founders recognized the potential in a product just beneath our feet but often overlooked. Their early success is encouraging and hopefully predictive of future success.

As with most modern e-commerce first fashion brands, they make heavy use of social media as a vehicle for awareness and engagement with customers, fans, and the world at large. Most companies in this domain will feature amazing visuals, often highly staged and artistic, as part of furthering the brand story and aesthetic. It’s a tried and true method.

With time and customers, however, many of these brands expand that circle to encompass more and more contributions from their customers themselves. This customer-generated content lines up perfectly as it authentically features the product, provides an opportunity to put a customer on a pedestal, and broadens the voice and personas beyond the carefully crafted one towards a chorus of customers.

Birdie, co-founded by an Instagram alum, not surprisingly has learned to leverage the second technique.

“We have a pretty awesome network of people, who are all one or two degrees separated from someone who’s an influencer somewhere,” said Gates of how they’ve managed to grow their customer base so far, with what she joked was “no money.” “Those people would see others wearing Birdies and reach out to us for a complimentary pair.”
Up until Tuesday night, all of the imagery on their social accounts was derived solely from those fans. Although they don’t intend to change that organic process going forward by paying influencers to wear their product, they do plan to amp up the content they’re putting out there, beginning with their own lookbook and editorial photoshoots.
Source: “With $2 million in funding, Birdies hopes to scale the luxury slipper market”,

The most interesting aspect of their usage is that they intentionally are looking past the influencers, focusing on truly authentic customers. Too often, new and established brands alike, rely on the reach and notoriety of countless influencers to amplify their message. This design pattern certainly has value and merit but also has incredible limits.

While advocacy is the hardest influencer engagement model to achieve with influencers, it’s usually the starting point with passionate customers. It’s no secret that ambassadors trump influencers any day of the week.

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Gregarious Narain is a serial entrepreneur and product strategist. A reformed designer and developer, he writes on his experiences as a founder, strategist, and father on the regular. Work with him at Before Alpha, connect on LinkedIn, follow on Facebook, or say hi on Twitter.