Showing off your bare feet might not be the most glamorous trend on Instagram, but you might be able to argue it’s the most impactful. (Couch, 2017)
One company that is performing digital engagement exceptionally well is TOMS. TOMS is based in Playa Del Rey, California. The company was founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, an entrepreneur from Arlington, Texas. The company designs and sells shoes based on the Argentine alpargata design they also manufacture eyewear, coffee, apparel, and handbags. TOMS thrives on the philosophy that if they sell a pair of shoes, a new pair of shoes is given to an impoverished child. As well, when TOMS sells eyewear, part of the profit is used to save or restore eyesight for people in developing countries. The company launched TOMS Roasting Co. in 2014, and with each purchase of TOMS Roasting Co. coffee, the company works with other organizations that they refer to as “giving partners” to provide 140 liters of safe water, equal to a one week supply, to a person in need. In addition in 2015, TOMS Bag Collection was launched to help contribute to advancements in maternal health. Purchases of TOMS Bags help provide training for skilled birth attendants and distribute birth kits containing items that help women practice safe childbirth. (Wikipedia, 2017)
TOMS is the perfect example of integrating your brand’s values into your social media egagement strategy with exceptional online social media engagement. Rather than go the route of a giveaway for digital engagement, TOMS put a twist on its one-for-one shoe pledge. The company offered to donate a pair of shoes to a child in need for everyone who posted a barefoot Instagram photo with the hashtag #withoutshoes. (Jackson, 2017) Giving up to 100,000 new pairs of shoes to children in 10 countries.( Hughes, 2017)
The hashtag generated hundreds of thousands of Instagram posts and went viral from current customers, celebrities and potential new customers.
“With One Day #WithoutShoes, we want to bring the TOMS community together to raise awareness for the millions of children around the world that grow up without shoes,” said Blake Mycoskie, TOMS’ founder. “It’s important for us to come together with a shared goal, and continue to create exposure for the children in need. It’s inspiring to see so many people around the globe get involved and share the message.” (Hughes, 2017) “The best part is that even if someone is not a TOMS customer, he or she can simply take a photo and post #withoutshoes to make sure a child in need somewhere in the world will get a new pair.” (Hoffman, 2017)
TOMS heavily relies on the engagement of their social media to push along their messaging to meet their brand awareness campaign.
“For many retailers, their profit margins are low. They spend lots of money on advertising – whether it’s paying celebrities to endorse your product or taking out significant billboards. TOMS doesn’t have any ad spend. A big portion of our spend goes on giving. But by giving, we build a community and people recommend through word of mouth and on social media,” says Mycoskie. (Anderson, 2017)
“One for one” has inspired many other companies to consider their social footprint, and TOMS has expanded the campaign beyond shoes and into other forms of welfare.
TOMS Eyewear, which as mentioned donates a pair glasses with every purchase of sunglasses and optical frames, has helped more than 300,000 people in need since its launch in 2011. Its newest campaign is to provide birth kits to expectant mothers in developing countries, in exchange for every handbag it sells.
“We always try to identify the biggest areas of needs in a country before we start giving,” says Mycoskie. “Since we started nine years ago, it’s great to see that many of the communities we’ve helped have really developed.” (Anderson, 2017)
TOMS #WithoutShoes campaign is a great example of a social win with their online engagement. The brand actually extended the time frame to build anticipation, as well as time to be able to give more. Within three days of the campaign taking off, the hashtag showed over 99,000 posts (Henning, 2015). By May 21st 2015 , TOMS announced that 296, 243 children would receive new shoes thanks to the campaign. This means that engagement with the hashtag reached 296,243 posts on Instagram (One, 2015). The amount of engagement with the Instagram community was overwhelming. The campaign was a great non-monetary way for people to get involved with a company.
The engagement in this campaign exploded because it was not only for a good cause but it was easy to get involved. Not everyone who posts these pictures had to be a Tom’s customer. (Couch, 2015). Anyone who made a post made a point wanted to ensure a child received a new pair of shoes could.
Lessons for Others
TOMs #WithoutShoes campaign is a perfect example how digital engagement can push not only a company’s key messaging, but how word of mouth and sharing can be exemplified through social media engagement. Social media engagement is amplified if you have a campaign with the following:
- No purchase necessary
- One for One purchasing (IE. TOM shoes)
- A community gives campaign
- “Feel Good” buy strategy
- High resolution images for engagement
- Curated content for engagement
- Curated content to attract existing and non existing customers
- Having realistic KPI’s in place
- Simple Hashtag everyone can remember or relate to
- Re-purposing real customers content or images for website or social platform
- Having an end of campaign summary highlighting how many shoes were donated and thanking the community of followers
TOMS succeeded in hopes of gaining awareness in the lack of children’s health and education across the globe. Due to the overwhelming amount of digital engagement with the campaign, the brand will continue to launch this campaign for another year.
Would you walk a day without shoes next year? #WithoutShoes
Name of Organization Contact: Blake Mycoskie, CEO
Authored by: M.F
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.
Couch, Robbie. “Instagram Users Went #WithoutShoes This Month And Gave 265,000 Pairs To Kids In Need.” HuffPost Canada, HuffPost, 27 Oct. 2015, www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/toms-shoes-without-shoes-_n_7360312.
Henning, Kristen. “Toms’ One Day Without Shoes Instagram Campaign.” Footwear News, 8 May 2015, footwearnews.com/2015/fn-spy/media/toms-one-day-without-shoes-social-instagram-campaign-28790/.
Hoffman, Ellen. “Toms Will Give Free Shoes to Children If You Instagram Your Bare Feet.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 5 May 2015, www.businessinsider.com/toms-one-day-without-shoes-2015-5.
Hughes, Aria. “Toms Launches Annual One Day Without Shoes Initiative.” WWD, 9 May 2016, wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-scoops/toms-one-day-without-shoes-initiative-10427336/.
Jackson, Dominique. “10 Standout Social Media Marketing Examples From 2016.”Sprout Social, 2 Oct. 2017, sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-marketing-examples/.
“Toms Shoes.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 4 Oct. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toms_Shoes.
“Tom’s #WithoutShoes Campaign a #SocialWin.” Ohio University Strategic Social Media, 8 Feb. 2016, oustrategicsocialmedia.com/2016/02/08/toms-withoutshoes-campaign-a-socialwin/.
“What Is Social Media Engagement?” Spot Marketing Group, 7 Mar. 2017, spotmarketing.ca/what-is-social-media-engagement/.