If you’re a dog lover then you most certainly know about BarkBox, the monthly subscription box for furry friends with over 200,000 monthly subscribers. Known for its pet-themed monthly box of goodies, dogs everywhere receive toys, treats and accessories from the humans that love them. While the dog-loving niche seems easy to please, BarkBox didn’t rely on old school marketing strategies to draw in loyal customers. Instead, they took their brand story and quirky company culture to the masses through social media and most recently, with their delightful Instagram Stories debut.
Today, I’m reviewing how BarkBox used their fun-loving brand tone to build a loyal fan base online and how you can apply the same principles to your brand’s marketing strategy to both delight and build a devoted fan base.
The Benefits of Instagram Stories
A household name, Instagram now has over 400 million daily active users (source). A photo sharing application for smartphones, Instagram has become known as the go-to source for carefully curated photo feeds, lifestyle images and product placements. While Instagram was originally launched to help share everyday photos with friends and family, it has quickly become a highly profitable marketing tool.
Launched in August 2016, Instagram Stories took a nod from Snapchat and debuted it’s own short-lived video and photo feed. Available for 24 hours, the feed is comprised of video, photo or custom text images that share stories crafted by the user. Friends can flip through and reply back to images in the feed. The greatest benefit of stories is that it’s both interactive and dynamic. Using the element of time, Instagram Stories draws in viewers who might otherwise miss out on the content before it expires.
BarkBox’s Story Strategy
The debut of Instagram Stories for both product and service-based businesses was important for many reasons. Now followers didn’t have to leave the app for Snapchat to see what their favorite companies, bloggers or authors were up to. Increasing engagement on the app helps Instagram build loyalty while businesses get the added benefit of easy integration.
BarkBox’s fun, unique and engaging brand story and company culture is a great example of how a business can best utilize a platform such as Instagram Stories. Leveraging the skills and creativity of their employees, they crafted a hilarious debut story involving an opinionated pug. Over multiple videos, a BarkBox employee interviewed the adorable dog on his experience with the monthly subscription service. It was a viral hit among dog owners everywhere.
The story was both engaging and funny, showcasing BarkBox’s brand tone while also selling the product without coming off as sleazy or over salesy. BarkBox could have easily shown a few images of the box they send with the products inside but they didn’t. Capitalizing on the medium, they told (and continue to tell) their brand story in a way that spoke to their target market and created an immediate emotional response.
Using Instagram Stories to Boost Your Brand
There are many brands building loyal fan bases from Instagram Stories, BarkBox is one of them. So how can you best build – and share – your brand story to engage and delight?
1 | THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
Quite literally, BarkBox avoided a stale and less than engaged story by skipping their product and going straight to their target market – a pup! While it’s easy to simply do a ‘day in the life’ or product showcase, sharing your brand story often means thinking outside the box creatively. In what fun ways could you highlight who you are and what you sell?
2 | HAND OVER CONTROL
Some of the best stories come from outside the marketing team. A behind the scenes look at different roles within the company is a great way to share your brand story. Hand over the control and let a variety of employees fill the feed to engage your customers.
3 | LET YOUR FREAK FLAG FLY
I’m a firm believer that the best brands don’t hold back or hide who they are. If you’ve got a great sense of humor, an obsession with unicorn mugs, or really fun office space – share it! Brands easily blend-in these days so why not stand-out? Your customers will love you for it and by offering something unique, you’ll be easily remembered.
4 | STICK TO A THEME
BarkBox doesn’t deviate from their core audience: dog lovers. They don’t try to be anything other than what they are. Brands who share stories that don’t align with their culture, tone or target market can be seen as unreliable, uninteresting or even annoying. Think about it, if you follow a home design feed and they start posting about cats, would you feel more or less likely to engage with future posts and stories they publish?