Reformation’s Sneaky Social Content Strategy
Plus recent posts I'm into, an IG Story tip, and more.
Today’s newsletter is a real content buffet! We’ve got my thoughts on Reformation’s creator content strategy, a few recent posts I’m into (including Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Shrimp Week), an Instagram Story tip that everyone should know, and more. This is a new format—lots of bite-sized information, all in one newsletter—that I am testing out, so I’d love to know what you think of it.
Reformation’s Sneaky, Smart Way of Working With Creators
A video posted on Reformation’s Instagram in March caught my eye. It was of a woman talking about what it’s like dating these days and she proceeds to show a Hinge profile of a person standing on a horse. Weird—I had seen this video before. After some digging I realized the same video by the same creator was posted on the creator’s personal TikTok back in January and currently has 1.3M views. The only difference between the two videos? In the second video the creator is wearing Reformation’s Bailey Knit Top.
If you scroll through Reformation’s Instagram feed you’ll notice they have lots of relatable sketches, interesting stunts, and generally funny videos all featuring a creator you might vaguely recognize from recently going viral. Like me, you might even recognize the entire, word-for-word video concept. The only difference in all of the videos is that they are now wearing Reformation.
An example of this strategy working well for the brand is the video they did with Michael Incognito. The original video was posted on TikTok back in January and received 2.6M views—the creator was just wearing a simple black t-shirt in the intro. The recreated video was posted on Reformation’s Instagram account in February and received almost 1M views—Incognito was now wearing Reformation’s Will Oversized Shirt. The video was a clear top performer for the brand.
Reformation’s strategy of asking creators to recreate videos wearing their clothes is both sneaky and smart. The content is also almost guaranteed to perform since the original version was already proven on a different channel. The risk? People like me recognizing the video and getting a Mandela Effect vibe from it.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more brands working with creators in this way. Creators shouldn’t be thought of solely as “distribution” for sponsored content or ads. For brands who want to add more personality, humor, and realness to their accounts—viewing creators as extensions of your social team can be an effective solve.
And now…a brief ad from our friends at Dash Hudson!
Dash Hudson’s latest 2023 Cross-Channel Social Media Benchmarks uncover which KPIs are critical to brands’ social strategies and learn how leading brands are staying ahead of the competition.
The reports cover TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube KPIs and are broken down by six different industries. A few highlights from the report:
Instagram Reels is a strong format for reach, receiving a 10% higher reach than TikTok—meanwhile, TikTok (35% higher) and YouTube Shorts (10% higher) both generate more engagement than Instagram Reels.
Despite a decline in engagement in 2022, TikTok is still a great platform to play on and remains an early adopter channel. While Beauty brands had the highest engagement last year, that distinction now belongs to Media and Publishing brands.
Everyone Should Know This IG Story Tip
While I don’t think a brand’s Instagram should ever be too curated or overly aesthetic, I do think using custom brand colors as backgrounds on IG Stories or when re-sharing something to IG Stories can be a nice touch. This is one of those tips that’s almost impossible to write out or explain—but this TikTok did a really great job.
Four Recent Brand Posts I’m Into
1. Anatomy of an Announcement with Benny Drama
Okay, maybe not a brand post but it’s a good lesson in announcements. Benny Drama and Mary Beth Barone’s podcast is back and they did a big rollout complete with an announcement post, short film, and more. But the most engaged content that Benny posted? An iPhone video of him participating in a flash mob in front of the one billboard they bought. This outperformed the more “formal” announcement posts by over 10K likes. To me this signals that people are craving iPhone-shot, weird, and “out of home”-style campaigns right now—not the usual buttoned up stuff.
2. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Shrimp Week
Like so many of you, I loved Shrimp Week on Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Instagram. 10/10. I wish more brands did made up themed weeks. I feel like that’s a big thing magazines and editorial brands do (we did this all the time at Bon Appétit) and I’d love to see more brand accounts try it out as well.
3. J.Crew’s Nostalgic Nod
I think it’s so smart how J.Crew has tapped into the ‘90s nostalgia happening right now and both incorporated it into current designs and actually worked to source old products to resell themselves. I particularly liked the above post which announced they sourced a very limited-edition capsule of ‘90s cotton Rollnecks™—and that you could shop them in their IG Story. Smart move and kind of cool to see such a big brand drop product on IG Stories. It’s a more scrappy method of selling that indie shops typically utilize. Felt right that J.Crew leaned into it for this drop.
4. BÉIS Enters (Well, Exits) Vanderpump Drama
What happens when reality TV’s villain du jour totes your product around? You distance yourself. Quickly. On March 30th, Vanderpump Rules cast member Raquel Leviss was spotted leaving Tom Sandoval’s house with a BÉIS weekender. (I can’t explain the full drama, just Google it.) The same day, BÉIS posted the above image. The timely post squashed any potential rumors that this was intentional product placement—complete with the caption “We provide the bag not the baggage.” I also want to note that oftentimes it can feel distasteful when brands involve themselves in internet bullying or trolling (think: taking sides on Selena and Hailey) but this post toed the line in a way that didn’t feel icky.
I’ve Been Overinfluenced
Roadway Moving’s team refuses to answer my emails, so unfortunately WSJ got the scoop before me. But I am absolutely fascinated by the moving company’s influencer strategy. If someone with over 20K followers merely mentions they are moving soon, you just know there’s going to be a sponsored post—usually a photo of them posing next to stacked boxes—on their grid the day of the move. It’s quite an impressive operation and I wonder if it’s reached the point that influencers just know to reach out to them for their move.
But can a brand do too many influencer collabs?
I’ve been thinking a lot about the world of product seeding, influencer gifting, and comping in exchange for posting. I feel like when a brand gifts product too much and it’s all over every influencer’s IG it has the opposite of the intended effect—it makes me wonder Does anyone actually purchase this product and pay real money for it?
I call it being overinfluenced.
I think there’s a tipping point where gifting product becomes excessive and can make average consumers, in turn, question the quality of a product. Is the product actually that good? Or do they just have a huge budget to send it to everyone on my FYP? There are a few products like this that come to mind—weirdly usually in the CPG world. I also feel this way about Roadway Moving. Is it actually a good moving service? And if it’s not, can influencers even legally tell their audience if something broke in transit or they lost a family heirloom?
I am all for intentionally and strategically seeding and gifting product—some brands just need to find their balance.
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Over-influencing is so real - reminds me of a tiktok user that turned down a Bottega Veneta jodie bag in their famous green colorway because she was sick of seeing it everywhere, only to find out it's an incredibly rare color to paying customers, and was just gifted to every influencer on the planet
I love how ranged and concise your newsletters are. I’ve been reading for a while and I appreciate how it sparks ideas in mind for marketing. Would love to hear more.