Weekly Roundup – 12/02: Power of Branding, Maximizing LinkedIn and Using IG Stories for Site Clicks

Updated: Dec 4, 2018

Each week, we’ll share a roundup of interesting news, stories, campaigns, articles and insights from the world of copywriting, content marketing, social media, influencer marketing, brand development and narrative.

This week we’ll look at:

  • The power of branding, as illustrated by Payless Shoes’ latest campaign

  • Tips for building and maintaining an effective LinkedIn network

  • Ways to drive web leads using Instagram stories

Payless Opened a Fake Luxury Store, ‘Palessi,’ to See How Much People Would Pay for $20 Shoes

Payless Shoes – notably known for its affordable footwear – recently took over a former Armani store in Santa Monica, California, stocked it with Payless merchandise and invited fashion influencers to attend a launch party. Here’s the twist: they thought they were attending the store opening for a new high-end designer, Palessi, rather than checking out Payless shoes. Influencers spent between $200 and $600 for shoes which are traditionally priced between $20 and $40. They did so under the guise that the shoes were something they weren’t - and even commented on the sophisticated styling and high-quality craftsmanship of the footwear.

With a background in PR, I found this campaign to be outstanding and fascinating – and I say that on multiple levels. The first of which, of course, is the brilliance of the PR campaign. It made huge amounts of news internationally, it built buzz, got people talking and put Payless Shoes top-of-mind.

The second way I find this to be outstanding is that the brand actually built its own equity by leveraging unpaid - albeit unknowing - endorsements and testimonials of its brand and products from top-tier influencers, It flawlessly positioned itself as a place to shop for affordable fashion – with the emphasis here being on fashion.

And the third way I find this to be outstanding is the way the campaign highlights the power of branding and narrative.

When I make this point, do take it with a grain of salt. I’m not saying the importance of quality branding supersedes the importance of quality product and honest business practices. And I’m not saying it’s right to use branding to sell equal-quality goods at massively inflated prices. That’s not my point.

But if you remove all of those factors from the equation, what you’re left with is a tutorial in the power of branding and narrative.

Palessi was no higher in quality or fashion-forwardness than Payless Shoes. But because Payless actually crafted a brand and a narrative that positioned Palessi as high-end and exclusive, they convinced people to buy shoes for more than 10 times what they were really worth.

Again – this is not to advocate for inflating the price of goods for insane profit. The point here is a clear demonstration that brand and narrative play a huge role in the minds of consumers in differentiating one product from another.

So, while you might not be selling $600 shoes, your business most likely has competition – which means you need to do something to stand out. Crafting a strong brand and taking ownership of the narrative can be the thing that sets your business apart and helps you cut through the clutter.

Read more about the Payless campaign via Fortune here.

How to Build (and Maintain) an Effective LinkedIn Network

LinkedIn is a powerful business tool. It can provide visibility into your experience or your business when trying to land jobs or secure clients. But it can also be a convoluted place full of ad-hoc invitations and random connections.

I’ve definitely found that, on social platforms like Facebook and Instagram, people put a ton of importance on follower numbers, without much focus on who their followers really are.

But LinkedIn is a bit of a different story. It’s a matter of quality over quantity. A connection count of 500+ really doesn’t mean much if they aren’t quality connections.

So how do you leverage LinkedIn effectively? According to Fast Company, it’s a matter of strategically managing your account from the outset by:

  • Growing your network thoughtfully from the start by only connecting with people you know or trust

  • Choosing quality over quantity, and never over-planting. This means ensuring your connections add value to your network and vice-versa

  • Nurturing your network by being helpful, available and interesting

  • Keeping your network relevant by eliminating unnecessary or outdated connections

Read more from Fast Company here.

How to Use Instagram Stories to Drive Web Leads

Most businesses want to drive leads to their websites. It’s one of the quickest and most effective ways to convert. But when it comes time to do so, Instagram stories most likely aren’t the first tactic that come to mind – but when used properly, they can be a valuable tool to help you do so.

For those who are unfamiliar, Instagram stories allow users to post photos and videos that vanish after 24 hours. The feature was introduced in 2016 as a rival to Snapchat. But despite their short lifespan, here are a few reasons why Instagram stories are a valuable tool in generating website leads:

  • According to Medium, 50% of companies produce an Instagram story monthly, with the average business posting 14 per month

  • They’re perfectly suited to marketing because they allow users to add text and stickers, draw on their posts and even include outbound links – this last point is particularly important

  • They have a low exit rate – an average of 5%, in fact, which shows consumers are happy to see stories through to the end

  • Instagram is growing fast – in fact, it's leading the pack is user growth and, since its adoption of stories, Snapchat had lost nearly 90 million daily users by the end of 2017

So, now that you’re convinced of the power of Instagram stories, the big question is how you can use them to drive traffic to your website. Here are a few key ways (the great news is the first 3 are free):

  • If you have more than 10,000 followers, add direct links to your website in your Instagram stories

  • If you have less than 10,000 followers, tag yourself within your story and add a link to your website in your profile bio

  • Save your stories as Highlights – this feature allows you to keep stories listed on your profile permanently so that users visiting after the 24-hour lifespan has elapsed can still see what you’ve previously put out into the world

  • Leverage the power of influencer marketing by partnering with them to promote your brand, add them to your stories and benefit from the thousands of “Swipe-Ups” generated by their notoriety

  • Utilize Instagram ads to drive video views, conversions, mobile app installations and traffic

Learn more from Maximize Social Business here.

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for more insights, ideas and news.


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