CEOs and execs from 10 DTC brands outline exactly how they shifted their social media strategies to increase online engagement and conversions

  • Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands are leveraging social media capabilities during the pandemic to connect with consumers and boost sales.
  • Brands like Ivory Ella, Jiggy, and The Naked Market have shifted their strategies on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok.
  • Business Insider spoke to CEOs and representatives from 10 DTC brands about how their social media strategy changed during the pandemic.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

 

Social media has always been a crucial tool for many direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands. The last five months have made this even more evident. 

With the pandemic keeping people physically distant from one another, the importance of digital connection has been heightened. This, in turn, has opened the door for brands to connect with consumers in a more personal way.

"With so many families stuck home during quarantine, there was a clear spike in social media use and we saw that as a clear opportunity to capture more customers," explained Bethany Muths, the chief brand officer of DTC clothing brand Ivory Ella. "We used social media to understand what causes our customers cared about and then created campaigns to support those beliefs."

Ivory Ella is one of many DTC brands to take this approach. Other brands like The Naked Market, Beam, and Hari Mari have shifted their strategies on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok to connect with consumers and boost sales.

Business Insider spoke to CEOs and representatives from 10 DTC brands about how their social media strategy changed during the pandemic. Here's what they had to say:

Ivory Ella: Leaning into TikTok

According to Bethany Muths, the chief brand officer of DTC clothing brand Ivory Ella, the brand saw the general rise in social media consumption as an opportunity to reach more customers.

"We used social media to understand what causes our customers cared about and then created campaigns to support those beliefs," Muths said, giving the example of the brand's Hope campaign to support Project Sunshine and children in the hospital.

The brand has also been active on TikTok, where it has gained over 300,000 followers since the start of the summer, thanks to partnerships with various creators that have increased the brand's following.

"The platform gives us the ability to engage with our core demographic in a way that is fun, accessible, and inclusive," Muths said. "We have built an authentic connection with passionate creators who are aligned with Ivory Ella's identity and values."

Hari Mari: Publicizing charity campaigns

Hari Mari, a footwear company that sells comfortable and fashion-forward flip-flops, generally uses social media to promote travel and exploration. Unsurprisingly, the pandemic forced the brand to change its messaging to finding adventure in places closer to home, such as backyards and local parks.

"We also knew that we wanted to do our part to help the healthcare heroes who were overwhelmed at the onset of the pandemic," co-founder and co-CEO Lila Stewart said. 

As such, the brand donated over 400 pairs of flip-flips through its "Nominate a Nurse" campaign on social media, which encouraged followers to tag healthcare workers to get free pairs.

Jiggy Puzzles: Launching a new campaign

DTC jigsaw puzzle company Jiggy Puzzles launched a mostly Instagram-focused campaign during the pandemic called JIGGY Originals, which showcased artists creating their own designs on blank puzzle pieces. 

"They hand drew and painted directly onto these blank puzzles, creating one-of-a-kind original art," said the company's founder and CEO Kaylin Marcotte. "We auctioned these off, splitting proceeds between the artist herself and COVID relief funds."

Jiggy used Instagram to show the artists creating the paintings and partnered with celebrities like Lili Reinhart and Sophia Bush to spread the word.

The Naked Market:Taking advantaged of low acquisitions costs

The Naked Market, a healthy food and beverage company known for its DTC brands such as Flock Chicken Chips and AvoCrazy avocado puffs, was already focused on social media before the pandemic. But CEO Harrison Fugman found the pandemic offered the company an unexpected advantage.

"The pandemic saw big brands pull back ad spend, so the price of advertising dropped approximately 30%, lowering acquisitions costs and making the channels more attractive for those who were fortunate enough to continue operations," he wrote to Business Insider in an email.

 

Outstanding Foods: Capitalizing on user-generated content (UGC)

Outstanding Foods, the brand behind a variety of healthy, plant-based snacks, was able to achieve its highest point of engagement on social media amid the pandemic. 

Shutdowns forced the company to adapt to new ways of shooting content for its platforms, such as capitalizing on user-generated content (UGC) created from the brand's followers on Instagram and Facebook, explained the company's co-founder and CEO Bill Glaser.

"We specifically reached out to foodie accounts and sent our products for free and most of them created recipes using our products and took photos that we reposted," he said. "We also have several celebrity investors who we utilized for contests, including one with JaVale McGee in which he gave away a free signed jersey that created a lot of interest."

Gemist: Creating eye-catching content

Gemist, a customizable jewelry DTC brand, mostly focused its social media efforts on Instagram and Facebook, where most of its consumer base lives.

"The key has been creating relevant and beautiful content," said Gemist founder and CEO Madeline Fraser. "We are a brand that thrives on visuals."

One initiative Gemist rolled out is its True Gem program, which highlights female leaders in various industries. The brand also created content to highlight its charity partnership with The Loveland Foundation, which supports girls and women of color, and used social media to roll out new launches, like the huggie builder experience which lets customers design their own earrings.

Seed: Engaging through education

Seed, a health-focused DTC company known for its Daily Synbiotic, decided to pause paid advertising amid the pandemic and instead focused on furthering education related to science.

"This included our ongoing translation of science related to COVID-19 and our five-week #LearnFromHome science course built natively on Instagram, which engaged over 63,000 and garnered more than 2 million impressions," said the company's cofounders and co-CEOs Ara Katz and Raja Dhir.

Beam: Testing out new methods

When the pandemic hit, CBD brand Beam decided to take advantage of changing media consumption habits and test out new strategies on its platform.

Such changes included opting for a more conversational tone overall and using captions to engage with consumers in conversation.

"We tapped into our amazing group of well-known influencers and brand partners to lead workouts and challenges through IGTV, and we partnered with other brands we love to amplify positive and supportive messages," the company's cofounders and co-CEOs Matt Lombardi and Kevin Moran said.

The Farmer's Dog: Taking advantage of TV

Fresh pet food brand The Farmer's Dog didn't change its overall strategy on social media during the pandemic. According to the company's cofounder and CEO Jonathan Regev, the messaging on its platforms has always centered on education about and celebration of dogs.

However, Regev said the brand has seen surprising organic engagement on TikTok that has come directly from customers without any push from the brand. The brand has also taken advantage of television advertising, thanks to other major advertisers pulling out of their placements. 

"It's powerful to be able to showcase our product and customer stories to a wider audience that, until now, has really only ever heard from the Big Kibble conglomerates who make up the status quo," Regev said.

Fernish: Creating interactive ad experiences

Furniture rental service Fernish has seen engagement increase on a variety of its social media platforms, from Instagram to Pinterest.

"Engagement is certainly up, and one of our best performing ads right now is a gamified Instagram story ad that we call 'Tap to Fernish,'" said Fernish cofounder and CEO of Michael Barlow, referring to an interactive ad experience that allows viewers to tap an image of an empty room to fill it up with furniture.

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