Lion Brand Yarn Case Study

Converseon worked in partnership with Lion Brand Yarn on the ideation, development and implementation of an enterprise social media strategy. This case study is a submission for the 2009 Forrester Groundswell Awards.

The Challenge

Establish an authentic and relevant online voice for a beloved 130 year old crafting company and institute best practices that help build relationships with passionate consumers of online knitting communities.

The Approach

Lion Brand Yarn was not sure if its customer demographic would be likely to engage in social media but was willing to experiment with the new technology in an attempt to engage and connect with its passionate consumer base. They engaged Converseon to help them listen to the online conversation about knitting and crocheting, better understand their customers social media behavior, identify opportunities for engagement and develop a coherent and measurable social media strategy.

The brand’s approach to social media hinged on an open approach to conversation and a employee driven content and relationships. The brand focused on ‘talking’ to its customers and prospects and expanded its efforts in social media as the rigorous measurement framework indicated success. Lion Brand Yarn has taken a long term approach to community building and it is now, 18 months after the initial launch of the Yarncraft podcast, that the brand is seeing the most success and measurable return on investment.

Implementation

Lion Brand teamed with Converseon, utilizing our Conversation Mining technology to map the knitting/crocheting online community, identify influential online voices and identify opportunities for engagement in social media. This listening uncovered a deep, interconnected and highly engaged community of passionate users spread across blogs, podcasts and even dedicated knitting/crocheting social networks.

With Converseon’s strategic guidance, the ‘Yarncraft‘ podcast was launched. Hosted by a pair of LBY employees, the podcast was produced bi-weekly and focused on knitting and crocheting topics. The podcast was posted to a dedicated blog, distributed via iTunes and also given away as a CD in store for less tech-savvy consumers. The podcast was designed to be a conversation with customers and knitting community figures moreso than ‘internet radio’ in the broadcast model.

In April 2008, the ‘Lion Brand Notebook‘ blog was launched, providing content and links to other knitting sources. The blog was also powered by Lion Brand employees with content ranging from customer polls for product development through to ‘knit alongs’ that combine online/offline access allowing customers to knit the same project together. The ‘knit alongs’ alone have proven to be a measurable driver of ROI for the brand as each virtual event drives a direct link to increased sales of the yarn featured.

Results

  • Lion Brand is one of the 2009 Internet Retailer’s ‘Hot 100′ Retail Websites, their site receives over 2 million visits a month
  • The podcast regularly has 15-20,000 downloads while the blog attracts tens of thousands of readers each month
  • A Lion Brand survey of 30,000 of their customers found that those customers who have interacted with the brand through social media are 83% more likely to identify as ‘very brand loyal’ than non-social media users and are several times more likely to recommend the brand to others
  • Traffic analysis shows that traffic from social media routinely converts at a much higher rate than most sources, outperforming email marketing and banner ads
  • From June 16 – July 16, 2009 traffic coming from the brand blog to the brand e-commerce website converted at 41.21% higher than the brand’s average traffic.
  • From June 16 –July 16, 2009, the average per visit value of the blog traffic was 39.44% higher than the site average

Conclusion

Lion Brand Yarn initially set out to build relationships with the online knitting community by talking with their customers via a corporate blog and podcast. As a result of an investment in people rather than products, they found themselves with a passionate and brand loyal group of knitters, who not only engage with the brand but impact the bottom line by buying and using products as a result of social media engagement.

Further Resources

PR Week Case Study: Lion Brand Yarn finds success in measured approach to social media,

Slideshare presentation from 2009 Internet Retailer Conference: Converseon Lion Brand Yarn Case Study: Internet Retailer 2009

Lion Brand Yarn Links
Lion Brand Yarn Agency/Client Info
Return to Course Resources Page

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