Online Shoe Giant Launches Instagram Campaign

Are Instagram Campaigns The Future of Marketing?

Some names come to mind immediately when you think of online shopping niches, and Zappos is likely one of them. Now the digital shoe giant has launched an online shopping campaign unlike any other we've seen before, and it's called hashtag #ootd.

You may have already seen this race across Twitter and Facebook; you might have even figured out that it stands for "outfit of the day." What's most interesting is how widely and swiftly it's been accepted.

It's the ultimate Instagram campaign that matches online shopping bargains with social media platforms, and it's taken on a life of its own.

An idea that Zappos set free

As of March, there have been more than 23 million posts using #ootd, and the vast majority of them don't even feature a Zappos item. The retail favorite has cashed in handsomely on the phenomenon of selfies to move beyond "just another SM campaign."

In other words, there are 23 million images being liked, commented about, retweeted, and shared; and according to the director of Zappos Labs, Will Young, that's exactly what the company wanted. Zappos believes this is what a real marketing campaign should look like in the digital age.

At the SXSW festival, Young said, "We looked at (the figures) and asked as a retailer how do we be a part of that?"

Redefining online marketing

There's no doubt that Young and his team were successful, but now they're brewing the answer to "What's next?" The newly launched pilot "Next OOTD" is already picking up steam with hashtag #nextootd.

It hasn't exploded the way the original did (yet), but Zappos is sweetening the deal by offering a free customized shopping recommendation for anyone who uses the new hashtag. This fits right in with the company's culture.

Zappos is known for its customer service. The firm proudly boasts that one customer was on the phone with a rep for nine and a half hours straight, and the person wasn't waiting for service. Instead, that phone call was all about relationship building.

Young points out that Zappos is constantly on the lookout for new and innovative ways to improve service even more. Take a look at the latest project for proof.

How #nextootd is shaping up

Both the original hashtag scheme and the latest are 100 percent manual, with only one person behind them. This employee doesn't work on weekends, as per company standards, and Young is the first to say that the scale isn't on deck.

However, he also says that it's possible in the future; just not at the risk of employee comfort and satisfaction. "Personal shopping via Instagram ... that could be the future of our business; it could have a 50-person team manning it and making personalized shopping recommendations."

Zappos knows that people love to save money shopping online, and Young says, "I heard Sarah Friar, CFO of Square, speak recently and she said, ‘Think big but start small.' That's kind of how we approach things at Zappos Labs."

The online shopping haven has experienced great success with an SM-only campaign that lead to great conversion rates and basically free advertising. Will their next campaign repeat that triumph?

More Stories By Drew Hendricks

Drew Hendricks is a writer, as well as a tech, social media and environmental enthusiast, living in San Francisco. He is a contributing writer at Forbes, Technorati and The Huffington Post.

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