Some work hard to get success while there are some smarty pants who accomplish more than others with minimal efforts.
I am sharing a story of a smart marketer/entrepreneur who broke all the rules of LinkedIn, drove people crazy and along the way made tons of money.
I am talking about Candice Galek, founder of Bikini Luxe, an online swimwear start up.
She drove incredible amount of sale of bikini products through LinkedIn!
Isn’t it shocking for most of us to hear that? LinkedIn is a professional networking site, and unlike other social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter, people don’t just “kill” their time on LinkedIn.
Rather professionals, marketers or businesses engage on LinkedIn with serious goals in mind. When we think of bikini promotion, LinkedIn never comes across our mind as a suitable platform. Perhaps this is the reason why other bikini brands never worked on their LinkedIn strategy seriously.
Candice took this as an opportunity. Absence of competitors could give her brand a huge advantage. The risk was also huge. Users may react angrily if they see bikini clad models on their LinkedIn timeline which in turn may create a controversy.
Candice took a balanced approach
The products were being modelled by top models like Natlie Roser (Miss Universe Contender). She posted few of the images with a caption “Is this appropriate for LinkedIn?”
And guess what? There was a flood of comments (both positives and negatives) coming in. She engaged with users patiently. In no time the post received 50,000 views, 500 comments and large number of shares. Overnight her LinkedIn followers were increased by over 30,000.
Marketing professionals with experience in LinkedIn know how difficult it is to get these numbers. Her website traffic from LinkedIn also increased exponentially and sales spiked dramatically.
Meanwhile due to growing popularity of the content as well as complaints made by several users, LinkedIn team took down the images.
Candice worked tirelessly to get connected with senior team at LinkedIn. She pressed her cause patiently and convinced the team that their nature of business demanded such images and in no way the images are overt or pornographic.
Finally, the original images were reinstated on LinkedIn timelines. These images still get lot of positive and negative comments even today. Candice became a LinkedIn influencer and contributor to several established online media brands. This story was picked by almost all top media outlets including Forbes, Business Insider and others.
My purpose of this post was not to promote the brand or to tell this story. I want your opinion on using ‘Controversy’ to promote brands on social media. We also know that not all controversies generate desired results. In fact most of them backfire on social media and in certain cases even the social media channels like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn take down the content.
What I understand from this example is, you need to have following three qualities to create a controversy that will work in your favour.
1. Create Controversy that look natural
Forced controversies fail miserably. While creating controversies many marketers go overboard and do something which end up with offending the audience or get hated by them. They generate negative vibes towards brand in social media. Note the caption chosen by Candice. It may or may not be intentional but she never forced her opinion anywhere.
Rather than writing something like ‘It is our product and we will show it any way’ she chose to test the water by saying something like ‘Is it okay to put on LinkedIn’.
What happened next was completely natural. She may not have done it intentionally but it is a good lesson for us to go this way in case if we have to promote a brand through controversy.
2. She was intelligent and graceful
When she posted the image on LinkedIn, she got some angry responses. LinkedIn also took her images down when they were gaining popularity. Rather than losing patience and getting angry she was very patient and engaged with everyone courteously. She accepted all the comments with grace and never did anything impulsive.
While dealing with controversy, we must have the ability to respond with humour, wit, intelligence and grace that helps sustain the controversy and amplifying brand popularity.
3. She made most of the opportunities
She accepted all the LinkedIn invitations that came her way. She responded to all media queries with caution and intelligence. She requested media outlets if she can become contributor and became the same. Today she has her own follow button and her posts generate as much engagement as any leading business leader like Bill Gates or Richard Branson.
So, she never shied away and made most out of the situation without a bit of hesitation or doubt.
I believe if we take care of these things we can also create a controversy that can work in our favour.
Sorry for the long post, I would like to know your opinion on following:
1. Is it okay for brands from segments like undergarments, bikini, condoms etc. to promote on LinkedIn?
2. Have you ever created controversy to promote a brand? Please share your story and let us know, in your opinion, what are the traits of marketers/campaign that made the promotion successful.
Hoping to hear from all of you.