Levi’s Uses New Facebook Plugins to Reach Potential Jeans Purchasers

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By Sara Inés Calderón Comment

Levi’s, maker of iconic American jeans and clothes, was one of the first web sites to debut Facebook’s new social plugins last week and already the company has garnered more than 4,000 likes on its web site and increased its Facebook fanbase by several thousand. Exactly how these plugins will affect online shopping and social media marketing is yet to be seen, but here’s a closer look at what Levi’s is doing with them.

Looking at the Friend Store on Levis.com reveals that more than 4,000 people have liked the company’s products. Some of these items have more than 600 likes each. On the page where Levi’s features the plugins there’s a video explaining to users how to use them and Levi’s has also been promoting these new features by both running homepage ads and posting to their Wall asking users to visit the web site and Like merchandise.

Although most companies have more fans than Levi’s does (which is currently at 293,400 since its July 2009 launch), the Page has grown more than 30,000 fans since this time last month. It was probably helped by its efforts at South by Southwest, and other ongoing promotions. We’ve interviewed Levi’s director of digital and social marketing, Megan O’Connor, to learn more. But first, here’s a quick look at some other clothing companies’ Pages.

Gap has an interesting application, Lookbook, prompting users to match denim tops and bottoms to find their perfect outfit. Aside from fan-shared style tips, photos and a tab promoting the Baby Gap, there’s not really another way for Gap’s 562,700 fans to interact with their merchandise. Abercrombie & Fitch’s 1 million-plus fans don’t have a way to share their favorite products other than from the company’s Wall and Express offers its 194,000 fans photos, a poll and a sweepstakes offer. Finally, American Eagle Outfitters’ more than 1 million fans were able to interact with the brand via a poll, video, photos and a credit card offer on Facebook.

That said, Levi’s had very similar interactions on their Facebook Page before the company implemented the plugins on its web site Wednesday. Essentially, Levis.com promotes the new Friends Store right on its web site’s homepage — “Like-minded shopping starts here,” it says. After clicking on the link, a video explaining how the new plugins works appears and visitors can click on the Friends Store to begin viewing merchandise. Upon liking an item, the action appears in your news feed where Facebook friends can not only see the merchandise and your action, but comment, like or share it. There’s also an activity feed streaming on the Levi’s web site showing what’s going on.

This isn’t the first time Levi’s has taken initiative with its Facebook marketing — the SXSW promotion helped it grow its fan base by 60%, for example. Partly as a result, Facebook asked Levi’s to be an early partner for these new social plugins, according to Levi’s O’Connor.

Here’s more, from our interview with her:

Inside Facebook: Was your South by Southwest effort, the Levis-Fader Fort venue, a success?

O’Connor: South by Southwest was our first foray into music, we’ll continue to look into that in the future. We felt like it was a huge success for us. In total we had 780,000 live streams of the concert and our fan base grew by 60% over the two weeks that we were promoting the event (260,000 at the end of the festival).

IFB: How did Levi’s become one of the first retailers to integrate Facebook’s new plugins?

O’Connor: The concert in Austin was when we forged our relationship with Facebook, and they approached us because they knew we had a reputation as being a pioneer not just in the social space, but also with technology. They knew we would be a good partner to showcase this technology.

IFB: What was Levi’s trying to add to Levis.com by integrating the plugins?

O’Connor: We really felt like Facebook was a great way for Levi’s to really change the way people shop for jeans online. We’re in a unique situation, in that we have such passionate lovers of Levi’s and this is a great way to empower them to really put the megaphone up for us and tell all their friends what they really like about Levi’s and where to find them.

IFB: How would you describe the success of the plugins so far?

O’Connor: There were only a couple of weeks for us to get it onto our site, as you know it’s meant to be relatively easy to immigrate to your site. The most important thing that we are continuing to look at getting out of it is, really, making shopping for jeans an interactive and fun experience — a way to bring your friends into the mix.

IFB: How will the activity with the plugins affect Levi’s actions in the future?

O’Connor: It is definitely one of many things that we look at in terms of performance and this is such early stages, we have lots of discussions about what’s happening today, but that may be different from what’s happening tomorrow. Having that authentic feedback loop with our customers, you can see what people online are liking today and that may change what we’re making tomorrow. This is very much about putting the consumer at the center and seeing how they want to use this functionality.

IFB: So, given the success of your SXSW experience and these new plugins, what’s in the cards for Levi’s in terms of social media marketing?

O’Connor: The great thing about social media and Facebook is that nothing stays the same and everything changes so quickly. So, we are really excited to learn not only from the concert, but the site functionality for our next project. The one thing we are confident about is that you’ll continue to see us innovate in that space. We’re really about matching consumers where they are and where they want to communicate with us and also meeting them where they are communicating with their friends. If we can create a great customized experience for our customers, all things will follow.