The Big Brand Theory: Wet Seal Meets Its Fans on Their Favorite Platform



Most big brands are congregating on ad-accommodating social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. And teen retailer Wet Seal is one of them. Except it recently joined the more mobile friendly Snapchat platform, following in the footsteps of brands that can be counted on the fingers of two hands: 16 Handles, Acura, Bloomberg Businessweek Juicy Couture, New Orleans Saints, NPR, Seventeen, and Taco Bell.Image

Data shows that among cell phone users, 26 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds report using Snapchat. No wonder Facebook offered to buy the site for $ 3 billion late last year. The latest numbers say Snapchat has 26 million active users in the U.S., and the coveted 13- to 25-year-old group is its main audience.

“We saw Snapchat as an opportunity to expand the brand’s existing communication with their core audience of mobile natives while providing the brand with a first-mover opportunity,” says Leslie Hall, president of Wet Seal’s agency, ICED Media. “The benefit is to communicate on the audience’s social network of choice, where they most frequently communicate with their peers in the most authentic way. As a result, the engagement rate is the highest we’ve seen across any platform.” 

Wet Seal’s Winning Snapchat Campaign

When the 6th Annual Shorty Awards ceremony came to New York on April 7, 2014, to honor the best of social media, Wet Seal took home the prize for its winning Snapchat campaign:

  • Wet Seal partnered with popular teen blogger, Meghan Hughes, who goes by MissMeghanMakeup: a notable teen influencer with more than 200,000 YouTube subscribers, 48,700 Twitter followers, and 101,200 Instagram followers.
  • The 2013 holiday season provided the ideal framework to showcase the festive world of a real teen, allowing Hughes to bring her authentic energy to the brand’s channel while simultaneously embracing the spirit of Wet Seal.
  • Hughes leveraged her vast online audience with a “Snapchat Takeover” for a weekend, resulting in more than 6,000 views—the most engaged Snap Story in Snapchat’s history.

Image“The process was very simple thanks to the ease of use of the platform itself,” Hall says. “For an entire weekend we gave over the reigns of our account to superstar teen MissMeghanMakeup, and she weaved together an amazing Snapchat “story,” including a visual narrative of holiday-themed events in her hometown, for our fans to follow.”

4 Snapchat Best Practices

Wet Seal’s Snapchat account is growing at a healthy rate, and Hall says they will continue to introduce a balance of brand storytelling, partnerships with influencers who can help authenticate its communication with fans, and calls-to-action, such as Snapchat exclusive offers and promotions. Here’s what Hall also recommends to reach your audience on Snapchat:

  1. Understand how consumers are using the platform and build your strategy around this native behavior.
  2. Promote your handle on your other social channels to build a qualified foundation of loyal fans. 
  3. Use the platform to share real-time moments from your brand, especially behind-the-scenes, exclusive previews, and new collections. 
  4. Experiment with “stories” as a way to weave together moments throughout time to tell a longer and more engaging brand story.Image

“The incredible and talented net artists we’ve seen emerge as a result of the evolution of social networks is so inspiring,” says Hall. “Social content is becoming a new medium for creativity and visual storytelling, and brands will become more savvy about how to develop breakthrough content within the nuances of each individual platform to help tell their brand story in the most compelling way.” 

Besides being on Facebook and Twitter, Wet Seal maintains an online presence on Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and Wanelo, the social shopping app. “Instagram and Wanelo are also thriving platforms for the brand, but Snapchat certainly shows the most promise and engagement,” Hall says.

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