Taking a Stance: On Rihanna, the NBA, and How One Brand is Turning the Everyday into the Extraordinary (and Reaping E-tail Profits as a Result)
Summary: Stance partnered with ReadyPulse so they could manage their social influencer marketing initiatives to effectively grow their brand.
- Startup that sells high-end socks and underwear.
- Founded by former Skullcandy executives in 2009, company has raised $85+ million in venture capital. Investrs include Jay Z and Will Smith.
- In 6 years, Stance has grown at least 100 percent in business every year.
- Company has sold 15+ million pairs of socks in over 40 countries.
- Exclusive, multi-year sponsorship deal signed with the NBA in April of 2015.
- Rihanna named as the brand’s most recent “Punk & Poet” (celebrity ambassador) in July 2015, Stance to roll out several limited-edition collections designed by Rihanna over the next few months. Multi-year deal is in the works.
Stance Dominance: Leveraging Brand Ambassadors on Social Media to Inspire Consumers to Buy
Since it was first launched in 2009, Stance has been a media darling, garnering attention from heavy-hitter outlets Vogue to Fast Company, ESPN to Women’s Wear Daily, and everything else in between.
Today, with over $85 million in investment capital raised, 15-plus million pairs of high-end luxury socks sold, and newly penned, exclusive agreements with the NBA and Rihanna under its belt, Stance stands ready to make leaps and bounds in a marketplace that has been largely overlooked — and underserved.
Integral to its success is the company’s ability to drive online sales directly from social media accounts where its products are featured to its ecommerce pages. To date, the brand averages an unprecedented 67 percent clickthrough rate from Instagram to its ecommerce web pages.
To do this, Stance engages a two-pronged approach. “Making content shoppable from social is the easiest thing a brand can do these days,” notes Stance Director of Social Media and Digital Content, Brett Sirianni. Easy, he is quick to clarify, but not as simple as throwing a product up on your social sites and hoping for the best.
Success is Born in the Stories You Tell…
“I came to Stance just under two years ago,” Sirianni says. “My background was the surf industry in Australia” — an industry, he points out, that’s driven by its fans. “Australia’s surf brands get their fans. They know how to listen to them, their likes and dislikes, what works for them out there on the water, and they take this data and it informs everything that they produce.”
Sirianni brings this same intention to listen and respond to fans to his role at Stance. “In terms of promoting Stance through social, it’s all about pushing content through by telling good stories and creating compelling imagery to start a dialogue with our fans,” Sirianni observes. As it turns out, he adds, “people love to see socks. And showcasing the creativity of Stance and the product is where people find the most value.”
For Sirianni, the storytelling aspect was a no-brainer. “Story at Stance is easy to tell because the brand is rich with people. It’s about lifestyle — how people live their lives. And we’ve been fortunate from Day One to partner with amazing ambassadors who lead amazing lives and who love our brand.”
Most recently, these ambassadors include Rihanna, whose “Murder Rhi Wrote” line of personally designed over-the-knee and crew-cut socks launched last month. Multiple collections from Rihanna are in the works, with eighteen styles dropping in September, followed in November by a holiday collection similar in size.
In April of this year, the NBA announced that Stance will be its official sock and that all players will wear the company’s product. As part of the multiyear deal, which begins next season, Stance will make socks for all league players in team colors. Those socks, along with other limited-edition socks made by Stance, will be sold at retail.
…but Lives and Dies by the Tools You Use to Capture those Stories and Inspire Sales
Sirianni has been able to translate ambassador stories around Stance with very little effort. What proved more of a challenge, at first, was figuring out how to gather and manipulate the best stories being told around Stance in a way that would position the brand for maximum impact and sales.
“When I started at Stance, I knew that I had that rare opportunity in today’s market to take socks — a product that is so bland, and usually just an afterthought for people — and bring something special to the market,” Sirianni recalls. But to make his product stand out online, Sirianni knew he needed tools that not only would enable him to identify the most compelling Stance stories on social media, but also push traffic to the Stance website in a way that didn’t turn off his audience.
The way Sirianni sees it, ROI isn’t just a number. And brands that fail to grasp this fundamental fact do so at their own peril. “For me, ROI is all about return on influence — the brand awareness surrounding Stance, the level of engagement, and how our ambassadors are talking about us to their audiences. That’s money to us.”
How to gauge influence on social and translate it into sales? For Sirianni, that was the multi-million-dollar question.
Stance and ReadyPulse: The LikeItWant.It Advantage
Sirianni found his solution in ReadyPulse’s LikeItWant.It, a plugin that drives consumers effortlessly from Stance’s Instagram photos to their e-commerce product detail pages. Thanks to LikeItWant.It, instead of simply liking or commenting on a photo that features a Stance product, with the tap of a finger, Stance’s Instagram fans are taken instantly to the product detail page of the item featured in the photo so they can own it themselves.
“LikeItWant.It has been a game changer for us,” says Sirianni. “The ease with which our fans can move from loving a product on Instagram to purchasing it directly from our website is unprecedented.” According to Sirianni, making a photo of a Stance product shoppable directly from Instagram has resulted in a 67 percent click-through rate from Instagram to the Stance website, skyrocketing sales as a result.
For Sirianni, LikeItWant.It is about making communication between brands and fans easy — a critical foundation without which it’s impossible to build a decent retail structure. “Simply put, the tools on the ReadyPulse platform solve business problems,” Sirianni points out. “A partner who can do that is everything to Stance’s success.”
Stance Stats: Online Retail Dominance
- 76% CTR from Instagram product image to Stance ecommerce web page using ReadyPulse’s LikeItWant.It feature.
- 3% – 5% product page visitors who make a purchase directly from their phone.
- 180 Total social sources tracked by ReadyPulse.
- 20 Million social photos indexed by ReadyPulse.
- 500 Photos displayed on Stance
Walking in Stance’s Footsteps
For brands looking to follow in Stance’s etail footsteps, Sirianni offers this: “Finding the channel that’s working best for you and your content is a critical first step.” Once this is achieved, Sirianni says, brands should use deep-dive analytics to understand precisely how this content is engaged with by its fans and then how that engagement converts.
“Brands that use the best tools to put the best ambassador content where people are going to engage with it, and then make it super simple for fans to make a buying decision are the ones that succeed in a big way online,” Sirianni affirms. “Creative storytelling, compelling ambassadors, and kick-ass conversion tools. That’s the name of the game.”
ReadyPulse is changing the face of digital marketing delivering social proof on-demand and at scale. The ReadyPulse platform is a system-of-record for social content and social ambassadors for enterprise brands and retailers such as Nickelodeon, The North Face, and Reebok. A B2B, enterprise social influencer marketing platform, ReadyPulse, is the most effective way to leverage social media photos and influencers, enabling enterprise brands and retailers to drive commerce with 100% authorized, high quality, product relevant social user-generated content. ReadyPulse identifies the best one percent of photos and videos curated from hashtags, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, brand websites, and social influencer/brand ambassador content. This patented technology enables digital marketers to identify and recruit the most influential social users as opt-in brand ambassadors, activate marketing campaigns on demand, and amplify high-quality product-relevant, authorized content in context of e-commerce experiences. What results are significant, measurable increases in social referrals, web engagement, and e-commerce conversions.
Request a demo for more information about ReadyPulse.