Social Media Marketing Strategies: Learning from Illbury +Goose

ksmith244    March 20, 2017

From a business perspective social media marketing can result in improved brand awareness and loyalty, higher conversion rates, improved customer service, audience insights and decreased marketing costs—if utilized well of course. But so many companies, both large and small, struggle with social media marketing. It is a whole different ball game in comparison to networking with friends and family on your own accounts, although the principals of building and maintaining relationships are still the primary focus. If you’re looking for tips to improve your social media marketing efforts, read on.

Illbury + Goose, is a small company that has mastered the art of social media marketing and have implemented strategies that companies of various sizes should take note of. Illbury + Goose creates sustainable, locally made clothing, accessories and home décor, and their brand is built on the foundation of Canadian patriotism. Starting as a local business a few years ago in London, Ontario, they have since expanded their team and have orders coming in from customers all across the country.

As a London native, and fan of Illbury + Goose, I have been following them for a number of years. After taking note that Illbury + Goose has over 18,500 followers on Instagram alone with each of their posts receiving comments, shares and hundreds of likes, I decided to reach out to them to chat about social media marketing. I caught up with founder and owner, Dan Phillips, who made note of a few key things they do to help grow their followers organically and to reach different segments of their audience. Here is what I learned:

“Our social media is integrated in other places. We have it on our business cards, on a table top sign and when we ship our products we throw in a postcard that promotes our social media accounts and the hashtag we use, #illburyandgoose. Instead of people including a fax number on their business card, they should use that space to include their social media.”

First thing I did was check my business card. Sigh, there is a fax number and I have never received a fax in my life. In fact I would have to Google how to even send a fax! This seems like obvious information Dan is pointing out, but it goes to show that there are easy opportunities to integrate social media into marketing efforts. Over the years of working in the communications and marketing field, my observation has been that people think because they have built a company page that followers will come, and that is just not the case.

Dan also spoke about how visuals are important on their social media pages.

“People want to travel, represent home and Canadians are super patriotic right now. We partnered with a photographer out west [Vancouver] who has helped us shoot photography and local spots. Urban photos resonate more with those in cities like Toronto, whereas a background of the mountains or Lake Louise works more for those on the west coast and has helped us expand into that market.”

Since the impact of social media relies heavily on visuals and video to capture an audience’s attention, it is important to make note what story your photos are telling and if they are resonating with your audience.

Lessons for Others

As a marketing specialist, and a young(ish) one who is expected to know the ins and outs of social media, I have spent a considerable amount of time keeping up-to-date on trends and experimenting with different tactics. Here are few essential tips for successfully marketing on social media.

Know your audience so a lot of decisions are already made for you
Once you define who your audience is, what they are doing and what they value, many decisions are already made. This includes defining how to talk to them, what time is best to reach them, what platform to use, etc. Even if you are part of the demographic in which you are targeting, you as a single person do not represent a greater population. There is a lot of information available on demographic behaviours and how different groups consume media. A report such as How Different Generations Consume Content Online published by Ad Week is a particularly helpful resource.

Define what tone and language to use in your message
For example Millennials are more open to informal language, and don’t mind if explicit words are used in certain contexts, whereas if you used this approach on a more conservative audience you might well be starting your own communication crisis. If you have a diverse audience, messages will need to be tailored in different ways to target certain segments. Another thing to consider is language. Are you using English, Spanish, French, perhaps even multi-lingual?

The right platform is likely not every single one
Unless you have a plethora of products or services that speak to difference audiences, it is unlikely that all available social media platforms will work for you. If you have a professional services organization, LinkedIn is likely a great fit, whereas if you are trying to sell products to teens and young adults, Snapchat or Instagram would be a far better choice than LinkedIn. Information is available on the demographics of social media platforms as outlined in the recent report, Global Social Media Research Summary published by Smart Insights.  Researching and understanding where your audience is and what they are doing will help you choose the best social media platform(s) that aligns well with your targeted demographic.

Content Marketing
Content marketing isn’t going away anytime soon and the Content Marketing Institute defines it as a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. Today, social media in general is noisy and people have their blinders on to tune out irrelevant promotional messages. In fact, people (myself included) are actually paying money to use their favourite platforms like Spotify and Youtube ad-free. The companies that are making waves on social media know that the key is to inform and engage their audience, not just sell products or services by shoving ads in their way—building trust and relationships eventually leads to increased sales.

Incorporate visuals
A visual asset—video, photo, meme, or otherwise— is necessary to accompany any social media message that you intend to have an impact. A visual can help your message have greater reach by capturing one’s attention and expediting the amount of time it takes to understand and consume content. In addition there is psychological reasoning as to why visuals are powerful. According to John Medina, author of New York Times Bestselling book Brain Rules, people are incredible at remembering images. We only remember 10% of the information we hear, but if there is an image associated with that message we will remember 65% of the content.

Promote organic growth
Organic growth means that people have followed your company page on social media without any paid promotion. The beauty of this tactic is that follower acquisitions are free and you have the opportunity to engage with people who are interested in your business. There are a number of ways to promote organic growth such as publishing content that people want to share, integrating social media into other marketing tactics, or running a contest that requires followers to tag friends or share your post in order to win.

Be human
Authenticity and honesty are huge drivers in content marketing. More conservative companies have been known to spend a considerable amount of resources producing videos that attract little interest when launched. Why is this? Simply put, they are broadcasting messages and not engaging on a social or emotional level. Examples of humanizing your voice on social media include promoting customer or employee success stories, getting involved in a charitable cause or asking followers to share their opinions.

In summary, the best rule of thumb when marketing on social media is to think of followers as friends rather than consumers to develop a relationship that is a two-way street.

Organization: Illbury + Goose
Industry: Retail
Name of Organization Contact: Dan Phillips, Founder, Illbury + Goose

Authored by: Kristy Smith

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


Chaffer, D. (2017, Feb. 27). Global Social Media Research Summary. Retrieved March 17, 2017, from Smart Insights website 

Mawhinney, J. (2017, Jan.3). 42 Visual Content Marketing Statistics You Should Know About in 2017. Retrieved March 16, 2017 from Hubspot website

Medina, J. (n.d.). Rule #10: Vision Trumps All Other Senses. Retrieved March 20, 2017 from Brain Rules website

Patterson, M. (2016, Aug. 25). How to Create Your Own Social Media Video Strategy. Retrieved March 17, 2017, from Sprout Social website

Roesler, P. (2014, Sept. 8). 5 Benefits of Social Media Business Owners Need to Know. Retrieved March 17, 2017, from Inc. website