How Converse Became the Biggest Little Sneaker Brand on Facebook

I found this to be an interesting article about Converse and the brands’ use of social media. The majority of the article is a Q & A with the CMO of Converse, Geoff Cottrill, who has a simple philosophy about how to approach social media. I agree with his philosophy and provide a summary of his key points below:

• Listen more than talk – be a participant in discussions going on in the marketplace
• Mix up posts (between product, content and questions)
• Be respectful of the time between purchases and don’t push ad messages every chance you get
• Social media campaigns should have different objectives and strategies than other media campaigns. Social media is more of a conversation and traditional strategies will not be as effective in the social media landscape.
• Let go and trust consumers
Key point – know yourself as a brand, be confident in your POV and act that way across all mediums

The article opens with a few statistics that really caught my attention: Converse has over 15 million Facebook fans, 4x as many as Nike (it’s parent company) and 8x as many as Adidas. Not only is it overpowering two giant competitors but it is doing so with a fraction of the advertising budget. Some of the reasons for this dominance can definitely be attributed to Converse’s sound social media strategies, however I think a lot of it has to do with the uniqueness of the Chuck Taylor design and the fact that even before social media existed Converse had already built a strong and enthusiastic following for this product line in the US as well as abroad. The demographics and psychographics of Chuck Taylor brand ambassadors also align nicely with common traits of heavy social media consumers.  To test this hypothesis I tried to come up with a brand that might exhibit a similar following and the best I could come up with is Levi’s.  Unfortunately, with just over 4 million Facebook fans, Levi’s isn’t nearly pulling as much weight socially as Converse. 

That said, Converse is working hard to stay relevant and maintain its image while raising awareness. In what I believe is proof that Converse really understands its customer base, the brand opened a recording studio in Brooklyn that gives musicians the opportunity to record for free. The goal of this initiative is to give back to the music community that has supported the brand through the years and hopefully inspire a new generation of musicians. Geoff clearly states that Converse is not getting into the music publishing business and all musicians retain the rights to their music.


3 thoughts on “How Converse Became the Biggest Little Sneaker Brand on Facebook

  1. I think there are a couple of great points we can take away from this article. What I think is most important is Geoff Cottrill’s advice to listen more than you talk, be flexible and spontaneous, and just let go and let the conversation develop naturally instead of trying to push it. I think Converse has been so successful because they understand where the social media space is at right now and how to correctly utilize it when it comes to brand marketing. Social media is about connecting and everyone being involved and sharing knowledge. Companies can use social media and become very successful but they have to let customers be involved in the process; let them air out their opinions and insight instead of just telling a customer what is best. Converse switches up their kinds of posts from product details, to new releases, to questions, and I think when they integrate questions to consumers is where they get the most power in their efforts.

  2. The key points you highlight are a great summary of how a brand should interact within the social media space. Converse seems like a brand that very naturally fits with Facebook’s style of communication. Maybe Nike and Adidas do not have as large a following because speaking with consumers through Facebook does not match the personality of their brands? Not to say that they could not work to adapt their social media messaging to be successful, but perhaps that is not the direction that would create the most success for the Nike or Adidas brands.

  3. This is super interesting. Especially since competitors Vans and Doc Martens are trying to accomplish very similar things. Vans is currently running a user generated “My First Vans” video program where consumers tell the story of their first experience with Vans. Overall, I think its exciting that social media lets brands build an entire “experience” for a user, wether its through emerging musicians or creating your own videos, this space is a hot bed for connecting brands with consumers on a deeper level.

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