How Lowe’s uses social media to make how-to content fun

This is part of a series on content strategies for brands as publishers, a deep dive into how brands are building out content offerings.

Lowe’s has more than 3 million followers on Facebook. It was there that, last month, the home improvement chain debuted the first installation of its 360-degree video series “Made in a Minute,” letting fans learn how to make a teepee in eight steps by simply tilting or dragging their mobile.

“Cute and simple enough it didn’t need detailed instructions — I like that!” one fan commented on the video.

This Facebook post, which got 4,000 shares and 5.7 million views, is just a small part of Lowe’s content-marketing strategy. But it reflects the brand’s core approach under the leadership of CMO Marci Grebstein: “creating inspiring and entertaining content based on how a platform works.”

“In the past, we did lots of ‘how-to’ content that was informative and instructional. But this year, we want to have more inspiring content with a focus on digital and social to reach older millennials,” said Grebstein.

The 18 to 34 demographic is new to home ownership, so it may not have the experience with certain projects or with regular maintenance, she explained. Most young people didn’t grow up wielding a hammer or hanging drywall. This means that Lowe’s has to make its content useful, fun and easy to follow for less-experienced millennials, helping them have the confidence to take on home-improvement projects. What Lowe’s doesn’t want is dry how-to content that is just the, well, nuts and bolts.

“Your content should be reflective of your brand,” said Grebstein. “Millennials don’t have the same effort or money as the previous generations. They are looking for simple projects that they can learn and accomplish by themselves.”

With this in mind, Lowe’s has assembled an in-house social media team of six with additional help from 10 people within its customer care team and its agency BBDO for content creation. The company used Snapchat to create a series of videos called “In a Snap” in May of this year, where viewers can hammer, drill or chisel to complete a DIY project by tapping the right place.

And when Instagram released its Stories feature last week, Lowe’s and BBDO immediately converted a “In a Snap” video into Instagram Stories, showing how to refresh your bathroom through a few simple steps like removing tired shower doors and replacing an old mirror with a mirrored medicine cabinet.

“Lowe’s wants to be the first when a new platform or a new feature comes out, so we need to have that first-hand experience,” said Tim Bayne, evp and executive creative director for BBDO. “But it doesn’t mean that we don’t customize content for a channel — that’s something we will explore down the road.”

Snapchat aside, in April of this year Lowe’s and BBDO also took advantage of a flip video feature on Facebook’s mobile feed to create a “FlipSide” series (also available on Instagram) that targets new homeowners. The series consists of short two-sided live action videos that show simultaneously what happens if a homeowner doesn’t clean the air filters or trim overgrown shrubs, versus what happens when a homeowner does proper cleaning, for example.

“If you look at our social campaigns for Lowe’s, it’s all about inspiring, instructing, informing and entertaining plus utility,” said Bayne. “You cannot just put something out there in hoping that people will like it.”

Social has changed the way brands — and publishers — create online content for DIYers. The search era was all about utility, where a short home-repair video on how to fix kitchen cabinets could easily rank high in search results as long as it was instructional and contained certain keywords. But today’s social era is less about utility and more about “sharebility” — that’s why short-form videos like BuzzFeed’s Nifty can go viral, garnering millions of Facebook likes.

“Content in social has to be entertaining to make consumers want to engage with your brand. It is less about offering instruction for a project they’ve already started and more about inspiring consumers to take on a new project,” said Grebstein. “Lowe’s still produces the instructional content, but it would typically not be distributed via social media.”

Lowe’s most recent social initiatives are reminiscent of its popular “Fix in Six” Vine series that uses the platform’s six-second format to demonstrate do-it-yourself tricks. 

While the chain didn’t disclose its social campaigns in the works, it will post one “Made in a Minute” Facebook 360-degree video per month covering different do-it-yourself ideas for the rest of the year. “One great thing about social media is that you can know what works and what doesn’t work in real time,” said Grebstein. “We will continue to innovate in that space and measure engagement.”

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