Discovering Their Path
The North Face was an early adopter of Twitter, joining in October 2007, but didn't have a strong idea of which direction they wanted to take or the conversation they wanted to have with their audience. It wasn't until they stepped away from product promotion and into representing the core outdoor values of the company that they finally found their voice.
Twitter Strategy: Take a Big Step
In 2008, The North Face set out to create a free digital tool that enhanced the user's outdoor experience. By December of that year, they launched a free iPhone application that provides the most up-to-date snow reporting around the globe. The app was successful with nearly 250,000 downloads but users had feedback on how to improve the UI and reporting accuracy. They also wanted the application to be more communal.
For 2009, The North Face launched the 2.0 version with all consumer feedback considered. The most innovative feature within the app, and a first of its kind, was the integration of Twitter as an enhancement to the reporting of the device.
By using the search API, The North Face created a feed that pulled all conversations about ski resorts across Twitter and re-aggregated them to each specific resort page. Not only that, but they separated the conversations between those going on in public about each resort and the official resort Twitter feeds.
Initially in 2007, the company had only a handful of tweets on @thenorthface. Moving into 2008 they still hadn't developed a clear social media strategy on the best way utilize the platform. Initially, North Face used Twitter to communicate infrequent e-commerce and retail store messaging along with the random branded content links to their website. They saw little traction and not much momentum in the amount of followers they accrued.
They asked themselves a basic question: "If The North Face was a person who would their friends be, what would they be interested in, and how would they communicate it to the community that they are a part of?"
During the summer of 2009 the team brainstormed how they could make Twitter a key piece of their marketing communication. They asked themselves a basic question: "If The North Face was a person who would their friends be, what would they be interested in, and how would they communicate it to the community that they are a part of?"
They realized that the best way to leverage Twitter and build a communal following was to promote The North Face branded content. They included athlete and expedition news, and information promoting the outdoors as a whole, the environment, and regional events that would interest any outdoor enthusiast. Serving up industry information to their Twitter community, @thenorthface quickly increased its following, saw a steady flow of re-tweets and spurred community interaction.
The North Face was able to crack the nut of combining technology with the outdoors and, by leveraging Twitter, they were able to give end-users an accurate tool to enhance their experience on the slopes. The ultimate validation for the app arrived in November 2009 when Apple used The North Face Snow Report in their advertising campaign across TV, Print, Retail, and On-Line.