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Cut the Loner Act

April 1, 2010  

Big insight: Content creation, pumped exclusively and relentlessly out by You, Inc., isn't the only way to leverage the power of social media. These days, you don't have to go it alone! Sometimes a strategic partnership with a site with a built-in, enthusiastic user base can take half the legwork out of a well-constructed marketing effort.

Case in point: In December 2009, American Apparel asked users to submit photos of themselves wearing outfits that incorporate the brand. (Lookbook is a site where real people strut their fashion sense.) The company received a thousand-plus entries, which it then turned into a "Lookbook" AA catalog—which comes free when you make an AA purchase, either in-store or online.

The final product is a whopping 64 pages showcasing the 132 looks of 77 lucky users. Artful, vivid spreads outline who the submitters are, where in the world they come from and what they do for work. Each of their "looks" is given a name, like "Le Taxi" and "It's the Cat Cat."

How American Apparel won out:

  • It didn't have to build the community itself. Via the Lookbook liaison, it was able to take advantage of an already-thriving user base that both loves fashion and wants to be recognized.
  • It didn't have to spend much. With the beautifully diverse submissions of users, it didn't have to pay models, photographers or venues to generate its free Lookbook. Plus, it can repurpose the imagery in its print creative!
  • It generated fierce user loyalty and exponential WOM. Its brand is now a part of its users' lives, something they're proud to wear because in recognizing who they are, it helps them share that story with others. Smart stuff.

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