Calgary based no frills Canadian airline, WestJet, was an early adopter of social media. In 2009, WestJet hired its first full-time social media WestJetter who was responsible for managing the company’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. By 2015, WestJet had added to its online presence and maintained seven social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, the WestJet Blog, and LinkedIn.1
I chose WestJet because I love their campaigns. Since 2012, WestJet has been a leader in social media marketing for the holiday season. In 2015, they upped their social media game with their campaign “Christmas Miracles: 12,000 mini miracles”. It was extremely successful—thousands of WestJet employees were asked to help perform random acts of kindness that took place within a 24 hour period.2
The campaign was thoroughly documented through videos that were shared over social media. WestJet wanted to promote these video ads to “in hopes of creating a movement, as opposed to a moment”.3 The good deeds included simple things like buying a coffee for stranger, or deeds of a more voluntary nature like serving lunch at homeless shelters. Also in typical WestJet style, they gifted plane passengers with items from their Christmas wish lists and gave deserving people free flights and vacations.
In general, WestJet does a great job with visibility during their campaigns, thus increasing their reach and the 2015 Christmas Miracles was no exception. Their employees all wear blue Santa hats—which are now iconic—making them easily identifiable as they perform their own random acts of kindness in their own communities. WestJet also gave their employees a budget to do this and many were followed with a camera crew to document the events.
A YouTube video kicked off the campaign which was also promoted on Facebook, Twitter and Periscope, as well as the WestJet website/blog.
It was supported through national and regional press releases. After they launched the YouTube video, their social media campaign exploded with people posting their own good deeds on Twitter and Instagram using the #WestJetChristmas hashtag all in the spirit of the holidays. During the Christmas season, it is next to impossible to stand out and WestJet did this by providing a heartwarming experience to both guests and employees.
Not only are their campaigns well planned out, but there are many details and nuances that promoted engagement through emotional reactions on all of their social media platforms.
Kate Spade New York (kate spade new york) was launched in 1993 by husband and wife team Kate and Andy Spade who ran the business out of their apartment for three years before opening their first store in the trendy SoHo district in Manhattan.4 Known for iconic structure, function, and style, each bag features the Kate Spade logo (which is a simple spade and the name ‘kate spade’ in lowercase Baskerville font), usually on a license plate attached to the bag.
Due to their affordable price tag for a designer bag, the brand took off, appealing to women of all ages and demographics. Crisp colour, graphic prints, and playful sophistication are the hallmarks of kate spade new york. The company has extended their offerings to include clothing, jewellery, shoes, household items, stationery, eyewear, baby items, fragrances, art, books, and giftware.5
In 1999, the Neiman Marcus Group purchased 56 percent of the brand and the remaining 44 in 2006—they then sold the label to Liz Claiborne Inc., in 2006.6 Most recently, Coach Inc. purchased the company in May of 2017.7
The brand is now in every time zone and on every continent. Their goal is to inspire with their spirited approach, commitment to curiosity, and to live colourfully8 through their handbags, clothing, jewellery, shoes, stationary, household items, fragrance, eyewear, and gifts.
The company is a major player not only in the designer handbag retail space, but on social media. With their market-leading presence, kate spade new york is a social media darling with many successful campaigns to their credit. They always make use of social media for their playful mentions of their famous “big sale” and drive traffic to their website with ease. Part of their success is because their designs are so eye-catching and Facebook, Pintrest, and Instagram are perfect vehicles for the visual aspect of the brand—because the brand translates so well on these platforms, this results in click throughs to their website and ultimately ending with a sale of an item seen on social media.
As of late, the brand has had incredible attention because of the passing of their namesake Kate Valentine Spade who although had distanced herself from the brand to grow a new business (Frances Valentine), was a legend in the industry. The new brand launched an iconic namesake bag to commemorate Kate along with a supporting campaign that echoed and compliments the original ksny brand. Throughout this tragic time, kate spade new york has remained steadfast in their tributes and suicide awareness, yet positive, cheerful, and bright to combat the darkness. This was a tough hurdle for the brand—if they posted too many posts, this would have been considered flippant, and if there was a black out period, this would have been a detriment in that they were not addressing the more important issue of suicide awareness/prevention. They hit the right tone and stayed true to their founder and vision.
Surprisingly IKEA is not doing very well overall with their engagement on social media. Their Twitter account for Canada (@IKEACanada) has been active since 2009. At first glance, it does seem like there is a lot of tweets, however, they refer customers to their other handle for anything customer service related. I don’t think this is the best strategy in that customers are being asked to go to another page to view the company’s response to their issue. What is happening instead is that their tweets and replies section is now filled with “To better assist you, we replied from our new @IKEACASupport handle” tweets versus actual assistance. I can understand them wanting to shift the focus away from complaints, but other brands are meeting these challenges head on and letting customers see them resolving the issue.
The IKEA catalogue is an icon for the brand as are product lines like the Billy or Hemnes, and as of late, their kitchens. These are brand staples, and what better form of advertising and engagement than having your customers show their love for these tried-and-true products? IKEA should take a page from a brand like Starbucks that lets their customers do the work for them by encouraging them to post and participate in their campaigns. IKEA should adopt this strategy and be more customer-centric. They should also be promoting their catalogue on social media since they run out of print copies so quickly.
Pintrest is a site that IKEA is represented heavily on, but a lot of the pins are hacks. The company should embrace these since the bare bones of the projects are still their products and would result in a sale. Each of their regional Pintrest pages adopts the same strategy of only pinning images of Ikea products, complete with links back to Ikea ecommerce sites. But this misses the point of Pinterest where creativity is embraced and your personality as a brand shines through. Again, the brand should be showing off their customers’ projects versus only product boards or their in-house designer DIY project boards. Given that most of the furniture you have to build yourself, this is the perfect platform to embrace and empower the DIYer consumer as part of their marketing.
That being said, their Facebook and Instagram engagement is better than their Twitter and Pintrest accounts because they do take the time to respond directly to the customer but again, they are not utilizing their customer’s IKEA experience(s). Their Facebook pages and Instagram pages resemble magazine adverts and have surprisingly low likes. However, when they post videos, the likes increase exponentially (their commercials are genius and the stats on the videos supports this). These are also the preferred platforms for their campaigns which seem to be hit and miss—they either knock them out of the park, or they are controversial.
With a solid social media strategy, IKEA could avoid these missteps and instead channel their efforts to what they are good at and leverage their past social media successes. They simply must increase their engagement—the low number of likes are a reflection of the brand and their perceived reach. Campaign launches, crisis management, customer service, and generating leads are only possible when you can listen actively and engage through social media and in my opinion, IKEA still has room for improvement.
- Ivey Publishing (2015). WestJet: A New Social Media Strategy. Retrieved from https://www.iveycases.com/News/westjet-a-new-social-media-strategy.
- Vankevich, Olessia (2017, February 17). WestJet: Success through Sympathy. Retrieved from https://medium.com/rta902/westjet-success-through-sympathy-d37b3cd7c158
- Promo Awards. (2017). Promo Awards 2016 Bronze: Best Use of Social Media. Retrieved from https://promoawards.strategyonline.ca/Winners/Winner/2016/?w=westjet-christmasmiracle.
- “Kate Spade Biography”. Biography.com. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
- “Kate Spade Announces the Launch of kate spade Home; Company Signs Licensing Agreements with Scalamandre Lenox, And Springs”. Business Wire. June 9, 2013. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
- “Neiman Marcus to Sell Kate Spade”. The Wall Street Journal. New York City. November 8, 2006. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
- Gensler, Lauren. “Coach Is Buying Kate Spade For $2.4 Billion”. Forbes. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
- Our history. Cited from https://www.katespade.com/katespade-about-us/katespade-the-history.html. Retrieved October 11, 2018.