Retail Study Reveals the Key to Social Media Engagement: Crotch Shots!


Engagement: it’s one of the key words of the moment, but it means different things to different people–and even those with a clear definition sometimes struggle to figure out how to make it happen.

A recent honest-to-goodness data study by offbeat clothier Betabrand found that the solution to the problem is simple: your brand has to give the people what they want on social media. In this case, what they want is…crotch shots.

We spoke to the company’s head of advertising Julian Scharman to learn more.

His data is real, and it’s spectacular.*

Who is your target consumer?

Captains of industry who, while leading seemingly normal 9-5 lives, aspire to own a pair of secretly comfortable work pants.

Or: Men 25-34 and 35-44. Our findings over time have indicated that, naturally, each age segment has different values.

Younger folks tend to be more interested in knowing that Dress Pant Sweatpants are their dirty-little secret at work, while the older segment is more interested in knowing they are made of French Terry and that they are supremely comfortable.


He gets it

What made you decide to create this epic study?

We already run hundreds of zany image tests, but this one bubbled up as part of a select few images that drew people to click but also, more interestingly, to buy. Images can attract initial interest (clicks), but connecting that to down-stream actions (purchases) is hard to do and, more importantly, to prove.


What range of images did you include, and what sort of posts did you expect to get the most engagement?

Images ranged from men dressed business casually sleeping in office settings or in public to more serious images demonstrating office confidence & practicality and others depicting how flexible the pants are by showing the same models jumping and running.

Our expectation was that the funny images would drive more clicks. The truth is, that just isn’t the case (at least most of the time).


When it comes to eCommerce social marketing, people want to see products they can both imagine touching and wearing themselves, and also tell their friends about.

This explains why an aggressively cropped image of just a man holding an iPad generated the best results. Truth is, it happened to show the pattern and fit…in incredible detail.

When did the results begin to surprise you?

We had to let the test run for about three weeks to ensure all the testing variables accrued enough spend. Some of our early expectations about “funny” images were the early leaders, but once we built some frequency (showing any individual users an ad/tweet more than once) the crotch shots took the cake.

What lessons can PR and marketing teams take from your findings (beyond “sex sells”)?

It sounds simple, but you need to understand that not all of your creative assets perform the same everywhere. We know that an aggressively cropped image of a crotch won’t work in a banner. We know, because we tested it.  It has everything to do with share-ability & discover-ability— not only are these two things what make social advertising so potent, but they are also at the core of our business model.  Which is why we do so well advertising on these platforms.

Design assets that are right for the platform encourage whatever behavior that platform is built for. If we deliver products & images that make people want to share, that is important for social, not necessarily email (as much), not display, or even affiliate marketing.

Fundamentally, our customers want bragging rights. Our goal is to give them killer products and present them in a way that gets them to take an action–whether that is to buy, share with their friends or both. You win either way.

In other words, Betabrand’s research demonstrates the value of testing and context rather than the overhwhelming power of the crotch shot. Different things work for different brands in different places.

That’s OK, though–Jon Hamm is probably too busy to be your spokesman anyway.

*(Yes, we know that reference was slightly off. We went with it anyway.)