Sunbrella using social media to connect
Casual Living Staff -- Casual Living, May 13, 2010
When Sunbrella fabrics completed its latest photo shoot, a lucky group of people got to see the behind-the-scenes images and outtakes thanks to their standing as Sunbrella fans on Facebook.
When the newest Restoration Hardware outdoor catalog was unveiled with a large offering of Sunbrella fabrics and rugs, Sunbrella shared the news and a link via Twitter, knowing the message would spread instantly.
As social media continues to thrive and connect people across the world, leading brands such as Sunbrella are using the tools to encourage conversations with customers, consumers and fans, often gaining new insight into their brands and products in the process. Sunbrella fabrics, an iconic performance fabric brand, is leading the way with social media in its industry, using a blog, and popular social media platforms Facebook and Twitter to engage customers on a personal level.
“Until recently, marketing was mostly a one-way dialogue between a company and its audience,” said Gina Wicker, design and creative director for Glen Raven, Inc., makers of Sunbrella fabrics. “Social media tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, encourage conversations and help establish deeper, more meaningful relationships between the Sunbrella brand and its most loyal followers.”
The Sunbrella blog, which went live in early 2009, was the company’s initial entry into the world of social media. The blog includes relevant content from across market segments and is updated with new posts on an ongoing basis.
Blog posts focus on the latest news from the Sunbrella brand, including notable editorial mentions, upcoming events, the introduction of new fabric collections and special projects featuring Sunbrella fabrics.
"The Sunbrella blog engages readers with information regarding upcoming events they can attend as well as special projects and ideas that invite them to experience the Sunbrella brand for themselves,” Wicker said. “We look forward to the reader comments we receive on the blog as we are constantly seeking new content and topics to cover.”
In addition to the blog, Sunbrella has created a Facebook fan page. The Sunbrella fan page fosters conversations, creating an environment where fans can learn from one another on topics including decorating, fabrication techniques and care and cleaning of Sunbrella fabrics. Fans are encouraged to submit images of their projects using Sunbrella fabrics, often inspiring future blog posts and perpetuating the Sunbrella social media loop.
While the Sunbrella blog and Facebook page allow for more expanded content, the Sunbrella Twitter presence serves as a real time monitor of information regarding the brand.
“Twitter introduces us to people who use our product and allows us to follow and respond to their conversations in real time,” Wicker said. “Twitter, in combination with other social media tools, allows us to share the Sunbrella brand story in a way that invites input from our readers and followers.”
The Sunbrella team tweets regularly regarding new products, design ideas, technology, unique applications and other information that is relevant to the Sunbrella brand experience. Tweets are succinct, headline-like information that capture the essence of the brand in real time, inviting followers to dig deeper for more information. While the technology isn’t designed for extended conversations, Twitter has allowed the Sunbrella team to learn more about its own brand by following the conversations of others who use it and live with it every day.
“Everyone has a Sunbrella story,” Wicker said. “Using the Sunbrella blog, Facebook and Twitter has afforded us the opportunity to hear some of those stories and learn more about the ways our brand is a part of people’s lives. We are thoroughly enjoying this fast-paced and fun process.”
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