OFFICIAL BLOGHER '10 LIVEBLOG: BlogHer Business Case Study: Lion Brand Yarn

BlogHer Original Post

Welcome to the liveblog of the BlogHer Business '10 panel: Best Practices Case Study #3: Lion Brand Yarn - The Craft of Community

NOTE: Please note that the case study visuals are attached as a PowerPoint, and can be downloaded by scrolling down to the "Attachment" section.

Paull Young: Rare social media case study that can actually be measured. Brought his mom from Australia to BlogHer two years ago, had a great conversation while standing in Macy's, drinking champagne sponsored by KY Jelly.


Ilana Rabinowitz: Wanted to connect directly with consumers.

PY: Lion Brand was doing nothing with social media. Started out with three important themes.
-Listening -- sent a survey asking how people wanted to connect with the brand
-Culture -- needed a good controlled voice -- wanted to use the employees
-Training -- are we comfortable with the tools?

(Ed. Note: Grace Jones is knitting onstage during this panel.)

IR: We'd had a lot of direct-to-consumer messaging before social media. We didn't have a platform in which people could have any conversations with us. We realized our product looks like an undifferentiated commodity. Now we've recognized our customers, thanked them, retweeted them. People make decisions not on rational facts but based on emotions. When they're walking down that aisle, it's a feeling that draws them to your product. In the yarn business, we knew if we somehow found a home in social media, we'd be able to have leadership in our space.

It started with a podcast and a blog. We found two people in our company who are big knitters. They have the blog -- people listen to have a half-hour show, as well, on podcast, listened to by 25k people. We have five or six people throughout the company who all blog.

Successful posts: If you could knit or crochet anything for anyone, what would it be and who would it be for?

We got 247 comments, some of the most emotional answers about people who've meant something to them, who've lost something in their lives. We answered back. We took some of the answers, set them to music and put it on YouTube.

Enter to win one of four $25 gift certificates -- people love contests. We have a customized comic strip in our newsletter and asked people to write captions for our comic strips -- had thousands of entries.

Join the textured circle shrug knit-along. It's a knitting club that replicates the real world. 13k participants.

Grace Jones: That was a fun project because all these people were going to be trying it at the same time. Every week there was a new post talking about the next step as you're moving forward, and we'd all comment about where we were and the problems we were having.

IR: Grace is involved in the podcast, ran into one of her listeners in a yarn store and recognized her from her voice.

Showed example of a bicycle that had a crocheted cover that someone had seen on the streets of New York.

The bloggers have developed a beat, some talk about technique, some about fashion, some about art.

Visitors convert to buyers 64% of the time. Social media has also really helped our image. People thought we were a big faceless company since we got sold into stores like Wal-Mart. Our demographic is more on Facebook than Twitter.

We don't spend any money except the time we spend.

When you're trying to make decisions about your products and your brand, knowing who your customers are is very, very important.

PY: The initial measurements we made were just in comments, etc. Later we started looking at the real dollar amounts.

IL: We are real people. It's really about being human. Sometimes as a corporation, you forget that you're human and you use words you don't use normally. Inspire people.

Q & A

Q: What's the ROI?

A: IR: That's like asking yourself, "What's the ROI for being friends with that person?" Just concentrate on being a good friend and things will work out.

Q: Talk about the YouTube video.

A: IR: We have a YouTube channel with about 60 videos, but this is my favorite one. The images are beautiful.

PY: The real thing here is authenticity.

Q: Can you talk more about the aspect of not spending any money on it? Why wouldn't you expand with paid outreach?

A: IR: For us, making it grow organically is really what it's all about. We do advertise on Facebook, it's successful and inexpensive. We're advertising to let people know we're here. Advertising is out of place in social media. "Here's a dollar, will you be my friend?" I want to write a book called "Pretend You're Human."

PY: Ask how you can connect with people and help them instead of just purchasing the space.


Lion Brand Yarn built their social media success by developing a voice that was more "friend" than "corporate representative". After launching a blog and podcast in 2007, Lion Brand Yarn discovered that customers who engaged via the blog and other forms of social media were more likely to make a purchase. Using this information, they developed blog topics that increased revenues, improved customer loyalty and featured customer insights. Join Lion Brand Yarn’s Vice President of Marketing, Ilana Rabinowitz, agency account consultant Paull Young, from Converseon, and Grace Jones, a consumer who was named “Star Contributor” by Lion Brand Yarn, to learn the secrets of their social media engagement across multiple platforms.

Meanwhile, check out more BlogHer '10-related posts:

BHB10_-_Lion_Brand_Yarn.ppt1.88 MB