Social networks such as Facebook are most effective when they allow friends to have conversations about subjects that they feel passionate about. Sharing opinions, links and photos about everything and anything has become almost an obsession for many people who log on to a social network and can’t seem to get enough of the news feed that is organically grown from real and imagined “friends.”
This capability of social networks to encourage the sharing of opinions has not been lost of companies that manufacture products – especially very hip products. Such is the case with New Zealand-based Icebreaker Adventure apparel. Because of its fascinating story and rabid customer base, Icebreaker apparel may be the archetype for products that set the social network world abuzz.
The company, known for the quality of its merino wool outdoor sports apparel, has also earned the reputation as a cutting edge marketing organization. A glance at its meticulously designed website (http://www.icebreaker.com) suggests to the visitor that they are eco-friendly, cutting-edge, outdoor sports fanatics!
In a company press release issued in January 2011, Icebreaker and social commerce company Adgregate Markets announced an agreement between the two companies that will enable secure shopping on the company’s Facebook page. The company is the first adventure apparel store on the social network that boasts more than 500 million visitors worldwide.
Icebreaker Has Outdoor Apparel Down Cold
Several factors make the Icebreaker story compelling for Facebook and other social networks. As the press announcement notes, after being launched in 1994, “Icebreaker sustainable merino apparel is revolutionizing the athletic and outdoor industries.” Before the company introduced this luxurious wool to its athletic apparel line, the industry was dominated by synthetic clothing made from oil. This suggests a positive storyline for Facebook conversations.
What would someone rather have next to their skin, something that’s made from stinky petroleum products or something smooth and natural such as merino wool, which was harvested from happy sheep? An educated guess would suggest that most of the 18- 49 year old denizens who regularly check their Facebook status are going to favor the cool merino wool from happy sheep rather than synthetic stuff made from stinky oil.
There are other great conversation starters for the social network set to ponder (before they hit the “buy” button). “Icebreaker natural merino is grown in New Zealand’s beautiful Southern Alps high country. Merino is nature’s finest performance fiber, lightweight with great temperature regulation; it offers breathability.” Because of its excellent product, Icebreaker has customers all over the world who are eager to share their opinions about these products and nothing is more powerful than a product recommendation from a “friend.”
There is no specific “season” for Icebreaker apparel and therefore these social network conversations can and will occur at any time of the year – winter, summer, spring and fall. They are also appropriate for a wide range of sports. Aside from chatting about relationships, sports are some of the most popular topics on social networks.
“Icebreaker offers a unique layering system, including underwear, mid layer garments and outerwear. There are outdoor, technical and lifestyle categories, each with its own specific fabrics and design details. The company recently unveiled its first Run and Bike merino apparel lines, as well as Icebreaker Realfleece, a premium natural alternative to a synthetic fleece for men and women.”
Adgregate Makes Facebook Shopping Secure
The company that broke the ice, as it were, for this outdoor apparel company to sell on Facebook is San Francisco-based Adgregate Markets. The company’s ShopFans™ application allows retailers such as Icebreaker to create stores inside Facebook and “harness the relationships that naturally occur within the context of social media.”
The company noted in the announcement that “retailers can use ShopFans to reward loyal customers and keep them engaged by giving Facebook-exclusive offers or pre-order deals. Fans can share product information with their friends and get feedback from them. The store can be customized to match the look and feel of the brand or traditional e-commerce website.”
The ShopFans app is one of the first to harness the Herculean power of Facebook to attract eyeballs of like-minded e-customers and accomplish this while affording state-of-the-art security in the transaction. Retailers such as Icebreaker can “track the entire shopping experience, from purchase intent to purchase conversions, for all of its fans.”
In the “wild, wild West” of the security-challenged Facebook environment, the Adgregate ShopFans app has earned a reputation for being the new sheriff in town. ShopFans has won the public endorsements from both security and privacy heavyweights, McAfee, VeriSign and TRUSTe, to “protect brands’ reputations and pave the way for consumers to buy confidently within Facebook.”
Turning Friends Into Buyers
Social networks such as Facebook or Twitter are beehives of activity. Having a simple-to-use, high-tech soap box such as a Facebook page can be both a blessing and a curse for products. If the product is well-made, reliable and has a transcendent cool factor, it can become wildly popular in a matter of hours. Conversely, if it is a dud and an angry customer with a laptop wants to make sure that nobody else is duped by it, large numbers of people will avoid it like a computer virus.
Great products with a compelling story such as the Icebreaker outdoor apparel line will stimulate social network conversations and there is little doubt that this talk will lead to actions in the form of online purchases. With the new Facebook store, when fans of Icebreaker products have finished dishing with their friends on all of the cool things associated with the brand, they will be just a couple of clicks away from becoming the most important people in the company’s network – buyers.