Q&A: How LIDS Built An Instagram Community Fueled By UGC

LIDS, a major hats and sports cap retailer, is no stranger to social media.

In 2016, the brand unveiled the “Press Box,” a state-of-the-art social media “command center” at their headquarters in Indianapolis. This company-wide to initiative to better utilize social media has been a runaway success for LIDS.

In 2018, LIDS was faced with a unique challenge – cutting through the noise to make an impact on Instagram. What resulted was the #UltimateHatCollection challenge, which asked their fans to show off their LIDS collection on social media. The contest tapped into their fanbase with a gamified approach, and LIDS won big.

The contest garnered nearly 3,000 submissions, and more than 13,000 votes during the finalist round. According to LIDS, the brand saw a 141 percent spike in channel engagement, with reach stretching beyond half a million “potential shoppers.” 

We sat down with Matt Thompson, social media manager, LIDS, to learn more about the campaign, and what it means to build brand community on Instagram. 

DMN: LIDS has been investing in social media for some time. Why is this channel important for your brand?

Thompson: Leveraging social media as a promotion channel allows our brand to further engage with audiences on a more connected level. For LIDS, it’s more than pushing out compelling content. It’s about seeing that immediate reaction from followers, which allows us to gather new insights on what customers think about our products, advertisements and overall brand identity. Furthermore, since consumers are spending more time on their mobile devices and social media than ever before, it’s extremely vital to be where customers are while providing them with content that is entertaining, informational and useful.

DMN: What role does UGC play as part of your overall social media strategy?

Thompson: Given its authenticity, user-generated content has been a huge resource across LIDS social channels and garnered tremendous success. Since our users have such fantastic and brand-driven content that aligns with LIDS branding, showcasing their product-focused content – such as their gigantic collections of headwear – has helped create a new cultural wave among our most loyal fans.

In addition, when our audience sees others enjoying LIDS products – whether it’s from a fan or fashion standpoint, they are inspired and empowered to do the same. In fact, leveraging a simple hashtag like #LIDSLoyal has now become an inspirational goal for consumers. Beyond that, user-generated content gives a more authentic public image of products to help legitimize our brand mission.

DMN: How did this campaign fit into your larger marketing strategy?

Thompson: Our #UltimateHatCollection contest was primarily on Instagram, but we continue to leverage this content across other channels such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more. For this campaign, Instagram was a natural fit because that’s where the idea originally generated. It was sparked when our social team noticed photos of these amazing headwear collections. The passion of these collectors was infectious and revealed a rather unknown subculture of individuals who remain at the intersection of fan and fashion.

The content was incredibly compelling, aligned seamlessly with brand messaging, and helped convey there’s so much more to headwear than wearing them to a ballgame. Launching this campaign was our way to really celebrate these headwear collectors and bring this movement into the mainstream. 

DMN: What did you do with the UGC that came in?

Thompson: Initially, our approach was to garner new content for our Instagram channel. But once these unbelievable images started to flood through and generate new levels of engagement, it inspired us to start showcasing the user-generated content on more channels, including print, web and email. In Leveraging user-generated content across channels only helped spark new waves of high-quality content from other users.

DMN: Instagram is a unique channel and is expanding in adoption. As the channel becomes more crowded, how can brands cut through the noise?

Thompson: It’s all about content and crafting messages in the most compelling manner to increase the chances of it being consumed. Pushing out relevant and engaging content regularly will help increase social followings and engagement. It’s very similar to the saturation of content through television advertisements. If you have a compelling ad, you will stand out. While there are strategic investments that can be made through paid promotions on social media, money alone won’t make it successful. It begins and ends with the content.

DMN: Any other tips for marketers who may be considering running a similar type of campaign?

Thompson: Dive deeper into what’s unique about your brand, and elevate it. Look into what you target audience is passionate about and how it molds within your brand message. Today’s viewers love watching individuals chase dreams and showcase their passions. And millions are consuming this type of content every day. If you can create a campaign that inspires while unifying your brand message, you’ll have something to hang your hat on. Pun intended.

 Are you a brand with a winning story or strategy to share? Shoot us a note at [email protected]

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