Brand Loyalty Enhancement

Threadless, a T-shirt company based in Chicago is a perfect example of a business that has built a community by embracing its customers and creating strong brand loyalty. Today, Threadless is as much an online community of artists as it is an ecommerce site. Founded in 2000, Threadless “asks consumers to submit shirt designs they've created—it gets as many as 300 submissions a day—and [sic] allows its large fan base to vote on the ones they like best.”[i] Threadless “picks the best of the most popular T-shirt designs, screens them for copyright violations and obscenities, and sells them on its site within three to eight weeks for $18.”182 Competition winners earn about $2,000 for their creations and Threadless aims to release seven new designs per week.182

With 2.1 million followers on Twitter and 615,000 fans on Facebook, Threadless has used social media masterfully to promote both its designs and its designers as well as, just as importantly, keep its community engaged.182

Threadless injects its personality into every engagement, sending news to people when new T-shirts are available, as well as informing customers of such quirky things as what music is playing in the company warehouse and stories about the interesting people stopping by the office.182 All of this work in social media has been very successful. According to Threadless, “The investment in Twitter has bumped our traffic. Sales from Twitter alone are in the high six-figures.”182

Threadless believes “the other key is that we act like humans on our own site and social networking sites. We act like we're interacting with our friends, posting videos of our employees talking about their favorite bands. It's not all direct promotion; it's human.”182 Burkitt concludes that the takeaway is: “Know what interests your consumers and build on it.”182

Another example of a great use of social media is the coffee company Starbucks; it is a company that has taken the lead in harnessing the power of social media.[ii] As Hodge explains, “With 32 million 'Likes' on Facebook and almost 3 million followers on Twitter, the numbers alone are impressive. But it's the depth of engagement Starbucks achieves with its customers that makes it stand out.”183

A few years ago, Starbucks recognized that more and more of its users were accessing their accounts from a smart phone or a tablet, so they launched a Frappuccino Happy Hour photo competition.182 “Each day for two weeks Starbucks gave its Twitter followers a different photographic challenge,”182 Hodge explains. “Users had to tweet a photo of themselves, including the @StarbucksUK username, for the chance to win a £10 Starbucks card,” Hodge added.182 According to Hodge, the campaign achieved “maximum exposure for minimal cost, recruiting many hundreds of thousands of unofficial 'brand ambassadors', who were generating online buzz about Starbucks.”182


[i] Burkitt, L. (2010, January 1). Need to build a community? Learn from Threadless. Retrieved from

[ii] Hodge, A. (2012, October 22). How Social Media Is Changing Brand Management. Retrieved from

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