In person, passion and enthusiasm is judged by voice, tone, excitement, actions, and facial expressions. Online, demonstrating all five can be difficult to say the least. REI decided to change that with their recent @REI #giftpicks campaign.
To put it lightly, REI loves the outdoors and should you walk into any store nationwide, this sentiment would be well represented. This past holiday season, they wanted to bring their deep knowledge and enthusiasm about the outdoors to the online medium. As a result, they created the #giftpicks project.
Over the course of one week, the REI social and video teams answered 90 questions from their avid fans and created individualized YouTube videos for each user. In other words, they went and targeted over 90 videos in one week.
Angela LoSasso, director of customer acquisition and advertising at REI, said her team had many goals for the project, but one insight stood out.
“Social Media Manager Lulu Gephart and her team did a great job of embracing the tools and the platforms that our customers are using,” LoSasso said. “We want to engage where our customers want to engage. This helps us demonstrate our commitment to provide the friendly service and expertise that they expect and love from REI – regardless of whether that’s online or in stores.”
As many community managers will tell you, when customer feedback and inquiries come in, it can be difficult to respond to each one. In other words, it can be hard to generate a human-type response for each issue.
Not only did REI respond to each one, they processed it, tapped their retail team to create a thoughtful response (with humor), put a script together, filmed it, edited it, and published it through multiple outlets to the individual who asked the question. Rinse and repeat that process 90 times in less than a week.
Jason Sutherland, brand creative team manager at REI, said the project not only had a resounding effect on their fans and website traffic, but teams inside the company found the effort rewarding.
“We realized that something like this is possible,” Sutherland said. “All production was done in house. The effect is worth the effort. Do not be paralyzed if you don’t have it all figured out at the start, but use the opportunity to collaborate and be creative. Take some risk and see what happens. Surprise your customers.”
And indeed they did surprise their customers. So much so that referred traffic to www.rei.com from their social channels doubled in the week the project ran.
The team is already working on additional opportunities to integrate this humoristic and energetic side to the online medium. Given the results of @REI #giftpicks, who can blame them?
“We were able to really connect with people who share the same passions we do,” Sutherland said. “We showed off our employees and our excitement. In the process, we focused on putting the customer at the center of the experience, just as we do in our retail stores.”