Times have changed. Back in 2007 New Balance was an early adopter with a brand page on MySpace. Now, the brand has a far more sophisticated social strategy centered on content that’s a mix of humor and educational videos. It’s now spread across many social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.
“We have slowly expanded into other social media platforms, taking a scalpels approach versus a shotgun approach, keeping a close eye on which platforms our consumer targets are using, how they’re using them and the best way that New Balance can deliver value to them there,” said Stacey Howe, head of global digital marketing and brand management for New Balance Athletic Shoes.
Everything that New Balance is doing in social media is in theme with the brand’s “Let’s Make Excellent Happen,” motto, which aims to inspire and motivate athletes to achieve their goals.
Howe says there are four primary rules to New Balance’s social content strategy. The first is introducing people to the right product. New Balance does this by talking about more than just the shoe’s features. It’s product posts tell people what the shoe can do for them. For example, for the NB 1099 pair of heavy duty sneakers, New Balance posted that the shoes are water-resistant and keep your feet warm, something that is attractive to cold-weather sportsmen. A runner probably wouldn’t be attracted to these shoes. The next pillar is providing tools, information, inspiration and encouragement. New Balance does this a lot. One post that stands out is a photo of Kim Conley’s dramatic finish at the US Trials, and tells fans that they too could achieve their goals. The third area is empowering customers to help each other. A tweet from Jan. 16, is meant to connect runners participating in the Run Disney marathon. The last tenet is celebrating achievements and a Facebook post giving a shout out to Brenda Martinez — who won the one-mile run at the Great North CityGames and set a personal best in the 800 meters — is a good example of that.
Some of the brand’s strongest-performing posts have been previews to new products or behind the scenes footage of how shoes are made. Take the Minimus High-Rez content series, which takes people behind the scenes into the NB Sports Research Lab, which reveals the science behind the making of various New Balance shoes.
New Balance has shifted how it handles social. The digital marketing team leads efforts, but social is now a shared responsibility across multiple areas within the organization including brand marketing, corporate social responsibility, public relations and customer service with contributions from New Balance employees across the company. Previously, digital agency Almighty handled a large portion of the social media outreach for New Balance. New Balance still uses Almighty, but has an in-house team that handles the day to day social media management.
“[We’ve learned] that it’s important to stay true to how consumers are using each social platform,” Howe said. “The more aligned brands can be to the behaviors consumers have already adopted, the more likely they’ll be to adopt your experience. And, most importantly, frame your content strategy in terms of their needs, wants, hopes and wishes.”