On a recent weekend afternoon, dozens of people showed up at the New York offices of Warby Parker, an online eyeglasses retailer. They were there to participate in a “photo walk” organized by the company. Every participant got a pair of novelty glasses to use in photos taken across the city. The company awarded prizes to images that received the most “likes” after being uploaded to Instagram, an online photo editing and sharing application.
“Up to that point, we had 700 photos on Instagram tagged with Warby Parker,” said Tim Riley, the company’s director of online experience. “Then the day of the photo walk, we had about 750 additional pictures tagged with our name. We also had 120 people in our offices and got to talk to all of them. It was a giant friendly hangout.”
As social media becomes an increasingly important part of retailers’ marketing and customer service efforts, it’s not just a matter of having the largest number of fans on Facebook or Twitter. Retailers also have to know how to engage users and how to turn those online conversations into positive offline interactions.
At a panel discussion on social media held this week as part of a conference organized by Wharton’s Baker Retailing Center, Riley and others from the industry discussed efforts to unlock the value in their online followings.