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Lilly Pulitzer Uses Bold Prints to Stand Out on Social Media

Apparently, print is the way to a digital native’s heart.

That’s what marketers at Lilly Pulitzer say they’ve discovered. Social media marketers for the vibrant brand are using original artwork—lively prints called Lilly 5x5s—to inspire shoppers, connect with consumers, and stand out in the crowded social media space.

In fact, print is at the heart of the brand’s social media strategy; the Lilly 5×5 is a series of original, creative paintings crafted by a team of the colorful clothing brand’s in-house artists, who create bold imagery solely to excite enthusiastic shoppers and fans.

“For us, it’s one of the ways that we can really stand out on social media, particularly in the fashion world,” says Eleni Tavantzis, senior manager of social media and public relations for Lilly Pulitzer. In fact, Tavantzis says that the brand has three key competitive advantages: its colorful Palm Beach heritage, an emotional connection with die-hard fans—i.e., the Lilly girls—and of course, the Lilly 5×5 prints.

“Images are so important when telling a story. Sometimes these prints are the entire story,” Tavantzis says. Lilly 5x5s are inspired by floras, beach life, relationships, seasons, and the brand’s rich, high-society history. Social marketers push these works of art to Lilly Pulitzer’s social channels at 5 p.m., five days a week.

“Images are important in a social campaign because everybody’s striving to get people to stop as they scroll through a [crowded] feed,” Tavantzis explains. “We want to make sure that everything we post is a thumb-stopper.” And much like scrolling through the pages of a book, Tavantzis says that the goal is to get users on social media to stop, take note, and engage. To do that, all Lilly Pulitzer posts must rise above the rest. “It has to be different. It can’t look like anybody else. It’s really the Lilly way—to stand out,” she says.

There’s no doubt—sight, sound, and motion are the pillars of engagement on social. And marketers at Lilly Pulitzer are investing in and tapping into the power of visuals. Photo posts simply perform better than text-based posts. In fact, Web-analytics company Kissmetrics reports that photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments, and 84% more click-throughs than text-based Facebook posts.

But the goals of this colorful campaign, Tavantzis says, was not just to promote the Lilly Pulitzer brand but rather to boost deep engagement, to attract new customers, and bolster awareness of the brand that was revived in 1993, after shuttering in the early 1980s.

Tavantzis says that marketers wanted their posts to resonate with social media users in a way that eventually allowed these prints to become a part of their fans’ personal stories; the team at Lilly Pulitzer wanted a personal connection—both with the brand and to each Lilly girl.

“What we want to do is connect Lilly girls. To let them know they’re cut from a different cloth; they’re not afraid to stand out; and you’re connected,” Tavantzis says. “So our ultimate goal is to get more Lilly girls talking and connecting to each other.”

Marketers at Lilly Pulitzer are making that connection in a number of ways—both digitally and on site. The brand’s engagement campaign includes a roaming Lilly Pulitzer Jeep covered with the bright Lilly colors. The Jeep promotes the #FindTheLilly hashtag campaign, which encourages Lilly lovers to search for the Lilly Pulitzer signature hidden in every print. There’s also the #Lilly5x5 hashtag that’s posted with every unique work of art shared on Instagram, Pinterst, Facebook, and Twitter. In fact, each print on Pinterest links directly to LillyPulitzer.com, where shoppers can buy Lilly gear.

Tavantzis says all of these elements are the moving parts of a winning social strategy: “We’re doubling down on visuals,” she says.

Since the launch of the Lilly 5×5 visual campaign in 2013—and with nearly 500 drawings on social—marketers at Lilly Pulitzer are seeing the difference. They’ve increased the brand’s Instagram followers by more than 170%—currently at 406,000 followers and growing—and its Pinterest following has grown about 60% to more than 130,000 followers; both are serving as a sort of virtual catalogue of the newest Lilly togs.

On a final note, Tavantzis says this robust campaign—fueled by tools from Curalate—has allowed marketers at Lilly Pulitzer to be imaginative and innovative, which has sparked more brand engagement, advocacy, and loyalty. “Every time we’ve set a goal we’ve crushed it,” she says. “We have wiggle room to be creative because we’re not tied to sales goals. It’s about the emotional connection. That connection allows us to tell the story and the heritage of Lilly better.”

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