Vancouver lifestyle brand Herschel supply is a pioneer when it comes to good social strategy.
With over 1 million followers on Instagram alone, the design-oriented accessories brand has successfully built a cult fan base with an international reputation.
In this issue of 5 Minutes With, Brand Experience Manager at Hershel Supply, Laura Ingham, shares her career path, the ethos behind Hershel’s social strategy, and the biggest growth opportunities in 2021.
Laura Ingham never set out to become Brand Experience Manager for one of the largest backpack brands in the world.
In fact, her career goal was to become a teacher.
“I initially went to Queen’s University in Ontario to study English Language and Literature and Acting so that could be my two subjects,” she says.
A position as a marketing producer for a student theater during her third year changed everything.
“I absolutely loved it. Finding a discipline that combines strategic thinking and creativity felt like the perfect marriage of my passions, so I hastily quit my studies to return to Vancouver and do marketing. “
Back in Vancouver, Laura started the Marketing Management Communications program at BCIT, completed several marketing internships and, after graduating, got a full-time position at an advertising agency.
“I’ve worked with a wide variety of clients for four years, including government, consumer goods, alcohol and jewelry,” she explains.
During this time Laura also founded a marketing consultancy and “soon built a portfolio of clients who oversee the social media strategy and content production”.
It was this combination of broad marketing experience and social strategy that initially led Laura to become a social media manager Lush fresh handmade cosmetics, then with Herschel supplybefore moving to her current role as Brand Experience Manager.
Now armed with some of the best social media insights in the industry, we asked Laura to share her key takeaways:
Later: Herschel Supply has developed into a lifestyle brand beyond just selling products. How do you support this on social media?
We are definitely a lifestyle brand.
Our founder Jamie Cormack once told me that a bag enables people to travel creatively because it literally makes it easier for a person to carry the tools they need for their crafts, travel, and commuting.
This gives us the opportunity to create content that applies to a variety of situations and arrives authentically in our community.
Our mission is to inspire creative thinking with content based on art, culture and travel.
Later: How do you plan and collect content for social media?
Planning social content means conceiving how we can use editorial storytelling to highlight our products, campaigns and partnerships.
Collecting social assets is about having them produced – and we mostly produce all of our social content in-house.
Together with our exceptional marketing, production and creative teams, I can curate our content and bring it to life on social media.
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Later: How does Herschel Supply use its Community of Travelers program and #WellTravelled to improve storytelling in the community?
Community of Travelers is a longstanding Herschel program. We use the program to tell stories about people who inspire us with their creative activities and passions.
#Well traveled was started many years ago (before I came to Herschel). It grew out of the brand’s innate association with travel and rice content – and has been used more than 5 million times to date.
At Herschel it is customary to say that we are travelers, not tourists. I think this is reflected in the use of #WellTravelled by our community.
Travel is not all about the destination and we hope that the content produced for #WellTravelled reflects all stages of the journey. The courage, the insecurity and the spontaneity.
Later: How do you create such a strong visual aesthetic?
If I had to summarize our aesthetics in four words, it would be: sophisticated, authentic, classic, creative.
A strong social aesthetic is the result of a collaborative creative team.
Our Instagram, for example, is an absolute team effort. By partnering our creative, production and marketing teams, we can ensure that our content visually represents the Hershel brand values down to the smallest detail.
For static contributions, Later’s Visual Planner is incredibly helpful.
The ability to generate a url to share the grid preview with the team is amazing and helps keep the Instagram plan visible within the organization.
ICYMI: Later is free Visual Instagram planner allows you to preview your feed aesthetic before posting – so you can curate the perfect Instagram grid for your brand.
Later: Which platforms are you most looking forward to in 2021? Where do you see growth opportunities?
Professionally, I am particularly interested in four areas:
- Instagram as a video sharing platform. The newest Update from Instagram, which describes in detail that it is no longer a photo sharing app, intrigued me. I’m excited to see how this continues to affect organic photo performance and what else Instagram has up its sleeve to compete with TikTok.
- The further development of social commerce in the live stream. As Instagram has a much stronger focus on retail and with the launch of new social commerce apps, it will be interesting to see how brands and YouTubers use live stream commerce to drive sales.
- Twitter usage is increasing. The time spent in the app is increasingly Year after year and as shoppable tweets evolve, I’m excited to see how Twitter will evolve.
- And of course TikTok. I wonder how the rise of TikTok ads will have an impact on audience behavior and general app usage.
Later: In this sense, how does Herschel Supply use the new functions of Instagram such as reels and guides?
We rely on new channel innovations in order to use as much organic reach as possible.
Moving from in-feed video to reels has allowed us to see a massive surge in video views – I love the challenge of rethinking how our content can adapt to new media.
Later: Finally, what are your top 3 Instagram tips for other social media managers?
- Make use of new media. Instagram will always give better organic reach to new media – keep up to date with new releases and prepare your team to be flexible and adapt content to new formats.
- Be your team’s expert and advocate. One of my favorite ways to connect with my coworkers is by hosting a # social-411 Slack channel where I share channel updates including spec changes, channel innovations, and creative inspiration. This is a great way to ensure the team is up to date on the ever changing social landscape and enable virtual conversations while our team works remotely.
- Make sure that the social plan is visible in your organization. It is both one of the greatest challenges and one of the greatest privileges that the work of a social media manager is so visible to a company. To ensure there are no surprises (and to lessen feedback after hitting Share), make sure there is cross-functional built-in planning to give your broader team an overview of the content.
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* Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.