Twitter, Panties, and Buzz

How did a little company with a single product and a homemade website get mentions in national magazines?

Linda Yellin explains in her column in More Magazine that she discovered the specialized lingerie company in question “when, for reasons known only to the panties, they started following me on Twitter.”

Naturally, I checked them out. I figured they’d be doing all the social media stuff we always advise. They’d have an intriguing background at their Twitter profile, an excellent self description, plenty of informative and entertaining tweets, relationships with relevant tweeps, and a nice link back to a terrific website, as well as regular links to awesome original content they created.

Nope. They’ve tiled their logo as a background. Their tweets are repetitive and, apart from obvious promotion, consist mostly of “Have a great day!”  Their followers are mostly auto follow and spammy, and they appear to have no real relationships — pretty much all the messages to them are “Thanks for the follow” with the occasional “Why is this panty company following me?”

In other words, this company simply follows thousands of people, focusing mostly on auto-follow-back accounts so they won’t follow way more people than they have followers. Then they choose journalists and follow them — they don’t spam them, apparently, or act aggressive in any way; they just follow.

Say that out of the 160,000 or so they follow, 500 are journalists who might write about panties. Say that, of those 500, 100 notice the follow and are intrigued enough to click through to the company website. Some percentage of that hundred journalists have been intrigued enough by this unusual product to read about it, and a few have written about it.

I’d like to know whether those write-ups have led to lots of sales, but the panties and I aren’t on those terms, so I can’t tell you.

If you have lots of time (or, perhaps, some low wage offshore workers), you could do this, too. It’s a gamble, but it’s one that paid off for the panty company. Their undergarments retail for $52-$85 each (and apparently this is their half price sale), so they’re probably a high profit item. It might very well be worth the gamble.

Before trying this approach, ask yourself some questions:

  • Do you have something unusual enough to be buzzworthy? If this company were, say, an excellent local sandwich shop, this method wouldn’t have worked for them.
  • Are you willing to swap the benefits of social media done right for the possibility of getting some buzz? It might absolutely have been worth it for the panty company. Make sure it would be for yours before choosing this route.
  • Do you have another idea for what to do next? This isn’t a long-range strategy. It’s designed to create buzz about an innovative product, and it seems to be working. It’s not designed to create regular customers — which is what you need for a successful business.

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