Brand Interview Series: Showpo (@showpo)
What would you do to grow a brand to an international fashion empire? Jane Lu took Showpo from her parents garage to the world stage through her social media strategy. Read how now!
This week we look at how social media can help rapidly grow your brand. Jane Lu founded Showpo in 2010 and has since grown her business to an international scale. With fans all over the world, the brand has over 3m followers across socials.
We sit down with Jane to discuss how social media enabled her to develop a brand, build a loyal audience and expand her business to over $30 million in annual revenue. Keep reading!
How important has social media been to the current success of your business?
Early on, my biggest win was marketing through Facebook. And other than inventory, marketing is the other major expense to any online fashion business. When I still worked at EY I spent most of my time on Facebook. So I guess you could say my age played a role here, I was comfortable in the digital space and that played a huge part in the success of the brand.
It was still back at a time when the big retailers out there didn’t fully utilise social media. Either they thought it was just a fad, or they simply didn’t get it, but it was when companies would either delegate social to a junior marketing assistant or outsource to an agency. But social media helped me build our brand very quickly and at a very low cost. Now it’s one of our core business functions and a critical awareness channel for the brand.
What social media channels do you use? What is your favourite and why?
We touch on so many channels at Showpo, working across Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Pinterest religiously and dabbling in Snapchat and Twitter among others. Personally, I could get lost in a Youtube wormhole for hours, it’s millennial TV at its best!
In a nutshell, what is the current social media strategy for your business and what role does social media play in your overall marketing mix?
We want to entertain our audience, provide content they find inspiring and can engage with. This can change even daily our strategy is to be ever evolving, constantly refining and learning about our customers a little more every day.
Sometimes you think a post will do amazing but it doesn’t, you don’t always know why so we’re constantly experimenting. In saying that, being across the latest trends and staying relevant to our customers always helps.
How has social media changed how you communicate with your customers?
If you look at this traditionally - now so many of our customer inquiries that would have previously been handled over email or the phone, are now being raised and responded to on our social channels. This impacts our business on an overarching scale, it changes how we design creative, and how we respond to problems as a business.
Last year a warehouse glitch caused a huge backlog of orders, impacting delivery timelines, and exploding our customer happiness inquiries. Instead of issuing a press release, or sending an EDM, I took to Youtube to address our customers, a platform that is relatable and native to them.
How has your brand used influencers to grow your business?
Influencers have played a huge role in creating awareness among their audience and helping build reputation and loyalty to our brand. We’ve found it crucial to use influencers that align with the Showpo brand and are a good personality fit - the Showpo girl is fun, lively and down to earth so we want girls who represent us to reflect that.
It is been valuable to work with influencers as we expand into new countries, as it’s an easy form of mass marketing as it has a domino effect among followers. Using a recognisable figure is a great way to make traction with new customers and we’re able to get a return on investment when using influencers. We also work with micro influencers, not just ones with the largest reach, as their audience is often more engaged and trusting of their opinion.
What social media tips/advice would you give to other brands?
Be authentic, know your brand voice and own it. Don’t be afraid to take risks and also be open to feedback. Understand your audience and make sure they are at the core of every decision you make. Be conscious of what is native to your customer and the platform you’re using - nothing looks worse than a poor creative intended for Instagram looking stretched and blurred on Facebook.
Where do you see the social media industry headed in the future?
This is anyone’s guess! A few years ago I declared Facebook dead, but we supplemented it with our paid media strategy and it’s still performing so well for us, so I might have spoken too soon! It will be interesting to see how new privacy and algorithm rules with change the current landscape. I also don’t see Instagram’s popularity slowing down anytime soon.
What has been your favourite post you have shared and why?
Loved creating our first recruitment YouTube video with our team - this was really the turning point for our brand, marked the start of our huge growth and was just really fun to film!
But one of the proudest posts would be where I shared a snap from a campaign shoot in NYC - this marked the internal launch of a collection that had taken 3 years to bring to fruition, we now offered size 4 - 20 in a large range of our product and it was such a milestone for us from both a brand and product/design perspective.