Hip Clothing Brand Designs with Social Buzz in Mind

Online clothing company Betabrand is a unique animal. It releases products twice a week. It gives its pants funny names. And its marketing strategy is focused on creating buzz-worthy products to be promoted heavily in social media channels.

Now Betabrand is allowing its customers to take its promotional efforts a step further using their own digital images. It has created an app for the enthusiastic fan base that plays to their egos. And it’s a strategy that seems to be working: the 14-person company is slated to hit $2 million in sales this year.

The company’s Model Citizen app came out of beta on Friday. The app was created in response to the overwhelming number of unsolicited photos it received from customers wearing its clothing. Some of the photos were great. Others were not. So, instead of picking and choosing – and potentially offending those with subpar photos, or filing the images away in a generic photo gallery – Betabrand created an app that makes everyone look important in his own social circles.


“With a lot of crowdsourced content that companies get, they’re not thinking about the best ways to drive traffic or make money; they’re looking for the best example to post on the homepage,” Betabrand founder Chris Lindland said. “They’re interested in 1 percent [of the photos]. We’re interested in 100 percent.”

Founded in 2009, San Francisco-based Betabrand produces clothing in small, limited-edition batches. New items are rolled out twice a week and are solely available on Betabrand’s website. The company seeks to design products “that have conversation built in to them,” said Lindland. In other words, the products, which have names like Silver Fox Jacket and Sons of Winos pants, are specifically designed to create chatter on the Internet.

“Just how many [blog posts] and tweets it can generate really affects the way I think about how to release products,” he said.

The app creates a product page and URL that present the customer as a Betabrand model when he submits a photo. That person can then share the link through all the usual social channels. “We’re trying as hard as we can to make our customers be models of our Web site,” Lindland said. In addition to stroking their egos, this also enables consumers to explain the experience of wearing the product and provide a far more informative shopping experience than mere ratings would.

According to the company, an average of 20 people look at each photo shared through the Model Citizen app , and more than 20,000 people have looked at the images overall. An update to the app allows anyone with a photo to test it to receive a discount, rather than anyone with a photo featuring the brand’s clothing.

“We’re constantly tweaking the app to see what will make people use it more and what kind of promotion will encourage people to take photos.”

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