7 Social Media Marketing Lessons from D2C Brands.

What direct-to-consumer brands can teach brick-and-mortar businesses about social media marketing.
Veena Ramakrishnan
January 29, 2021 - 6 min. read

What is it about the direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands that people, especially millennials love?

Simplicity? Convenience? Authenticity? Or lifestyle experience?

The answer? All of the above!

In the last decade, we’ve seen a fast-paced growth in direct-to-consumer brands amassing a community of loyal fans by simply tending to their needs without the costly intermediary.

Social media has also provided a whole new dimension to the D2C strategy. According to a 2019 report, 61% of D2C brands reach a majority of their customers through social media marketing. SEO is at a close second at 51%.

D2c acquisition channels

So, in a world that promises one-day delivery from retail giants like Amazon and Alibaba, how do popular D2C brands like Glossier and ThirdLove provide a seamless buyer’s experience and create strong relationships?

In this article, we’ll go over the seven social media marketing lessons that direct-to-consumer brands can teach brick-and-mortar businesses about social media marketing.

1.ThirdLove: all about being authentic on social.

ThirdLove is an American lingerie company that aims to sell lingerie for every body.

To really connect with their audience from different parts of the world, ThirdLove creates campaigns that represent different communities and cultures by capturing relatable and unfiltered women in their everyday life.

The lingerie brand steers away from the Victoria’s Secret Angel type of mentality and instead targets women who want comfortable and high-quality bras that make them feel beautiful and sexy.

ThirdLove establishes trust at their foundation by consistently being authentic and honest about what their customers can expect from them. Now, that’s a lesson for every brand out there!

2. Away: from a utilitarian product to an enviable fashion statement.

Away’s SoMe-focused channel strategy is one to admire. The aspirational luggage brand talks less about the product’s functional features and more about how the product makes you feel.

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A post shared by Away (@away)

The brand took the direct-to-consumer approach to give the same top-quality materials as other premium luggage brands do. Away even has their own travel magazine that tells compelling and unique travel stories, city guides, and book recommendations for travelers.

By leveraging user-generated content of suitcases shot in exotic and unusual locations, Away makes a utilitarian product an enviable fashion statement on social media.

3. Glossier: on building a socially driven beauty brand.

A former styling assistant for Vogue turned her personal beauty blog into one of the most sought-after and celebrated cosmetics company. Now, there’s your idea for a movie!

Glossier built its brand on two things – social media and branding. The beauty brand tapped into their audiences’ feedback and crowd-sourced information to build everything from product to packaging and ultimately a socially driven beauty brand.

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A post shared by Glossier (@glossier)

Glossier celebrates natural beauty and uses its own customers and employees as their personal influencers to market their brand. The brand also indulges in hype-inducing marketing tactics like their famous Beyonce stunt to get their fans to take notice of their new product arrivals and collaborations.

4. Warby Parkers: turning online shopping into lifestyle experiences

Technologically savvy eyewear brand Warby Parkers knows how to turn buying glasses into a lifestyle experience in the comfort of one’s own home.

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A post shared by Warby Parker (@warbyparker)

Consumers are given the choice to either try on glasses at home for free or use their mobile phones for virtual try-on with the help of Warby’s AR tech. This way, Warby also invites consumers to share their experiences on social with the #warbytryonathome hashtag.

Warby Parker | Virtual Try-On

But what makes Warby Parkers truly a lifestyle experience is their association for a meaningful cause. Warby Parkers works with a handful of partners worldwide to ensure that for every pair of Warby Parker glasses purchased, a pair of glasses is distributed to someone in need.

By associating their brand with a meaningful cause, Warby’s achieves to bring about positive change and attract attention to valid social causes.

5. Rothy’s: sustainability at the core of the brand strategy.

Rothy’s is set on a mission to make the planet a better living place. From their signature thread spun from plastic water bottles to their innovative use of marine plastic, recycled materials are found in every single product they make.

Part of Rothy’s social media strategy is to educate their customers on Rothy’s product benefits. For example, their shoes are machine washable and not everyone knows this.

Rothy’s also stands out from other fashion brands by using strong imagery that features their sustainable materials.

Rothy’s tip for brands trying to increase brand awareness is to pair eye-catching creatives with concise copy. This is paramount to grabbing people’s attention.

6. Ugly Drinks: on calling out the ugly truth and steering away from perfection.

Ugly’s social media strategy is to be as young and rebellious as the brand’s target audience, a combination of Gen Z and millennials, or as they like to internally call, ‘GenZenials’.

The soft drinks brand’s approach to social media and their larger marketing efforts are centered on calling out the ugly truths of the world and taking a stand for what they believe in. And that means steering away from perfect and polished content.

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A post shared by UGLY DRINKS (@uglydrinks)

Ugly has partnered with Girl Up to help train teenage girls to become leaders & changemakers. With every purchase of Ugly flavored sparkling water, Ugly makes a donation to support the movement for gender equality.

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A post shared by UGLY DRINKS (@uglydrinks)

They have also partnered with Oceanic Global to help raise awareness of ocean conservation. Every purchase of plain Ugly helps them engage new audiences and drive positive change.

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A post shared by UGLY DRINKS (@uglydrinks)

Ugly believes in fostering a sense of community with their fans (Ugly Mob) by collaborating with them and building a community of brand advocates. In a fun limited-edition campaign, Ugly Drinks dropped new flavors every single month in small quantities and got people to vote on different flavors to help them decide the upcoming flavors.

7. BarkBox: the entertainment over selling approach.

BarkBox, a monthly subscription service provider of dog products and services has personalization at the heart of its marketing strategy. Every month, the brand sends out over 120,000 personalized BarkBox varieties to dog parents that love to spoil their pets with treats and toys.

The brand’s approach to social media is to put entertainment over selling. About 80% of BarkBox’s social content doesn’t have a CTA or anything to do with their products.

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A post shared by BarkBox (@barkbox)

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A post shared by BarkBox (@barkbox)

You can tell that the aim here is to not tell their customers what they should do next but rather get their customers to talk about the brand and earn their loyalty through entertaining content.

Final thoughts

A D2C marketing strategy is one of the best ways to reach your customers and take complete control over the start-to-finish buyers’ experience. But that doesn’t come easy. Like any marketing strategy, you need to plan out your game plan, allocate your resources, and market where your customers are.

These seven successful direct-to-consumer brands are leveraging social to win new customers and get ahead of the competition. If you’re feeling inspired, take a page from their book and implement some of their best practices for your own business.