If Businesses Want The DNA of Social Media Success, It’s All In The Jeans

by Scott Douglas

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Levis Social Media GoldrushAnyone remember the name Nick Kamen?

He was the impossibly handsome guy who walked into a Laundromat, filled the machine with rocks (closely followed by his jeans) as he stripped to his boxer shorts while watched by a group of bug-eyed housewives.

Accompanied by the pulsating strains of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Heard it Through the Grapevine’ it was a piece of jean-genius marketing which launched a series of iconic Levis ads.

When It debuted on TV in 1985, overnight it turned Levis 501s into a must-have fashion item.

Nick Kamen went on to have a short-lived pop career before being eclipsed in the stardom stakes by a later Levis model, by the name of Brad Pitt.

The ads were credited with reinvigorating the entire denim market – specifically the fortunes of the San Francisco firm, founded during the California gold rush by German immigrant Levi Strauss.

Levis Lead The Facebook Digital Goldrush

Right now there is a new, digital goldrush taking place and the name Levi Strauss is once again featuring prominently.

In the past few weeks Facebook sent a shockwave through the online world with the announcement of its land grab for the entire social graph.

Social networking giant, Facebook’s ‘Like’ button might seem like a humble development – nothing more than a simple thumbs up icon which web surfers can click if they approve of a page or its content. But it is actually the first serious challenge to Google in a decade.

It may have more than 400 million global users, but when your business is built on being free even ubiquity and usefulness are no guarantees to long-term success, as the woes of MySpace and Bebo attest.

Since any business will be able to add “Like” buttons  to its blog or website, internet surfers  won’t even need a Facebook account to let the world know their preferences.

How To Be Popular, Relevant and Useful Online

Suddenly Facebook has changed from a destination to become the very glue holding the social web together – not only a barometer of tastes, trends and personal connections, but an arbiter of popularity, relevance and usefulness.

Those last three words are critical in the future of the web. Why? Because they are the touchpoints of modern culture currently being curated by that other digital monolith, Google.  

The search giant relies on links, a vast and complex mesh of online nods and winks, to define which websites rank highest.

In future,  if you want to find anything online – including a new pair of Levi jeans – why would you rely on Google’s impenetrable algorithms if a  more human and social alternative was available to tell you what your friends (and friends of friends) recommend?

Social Media Currency of The Internet

Suddenly there is a real possibility that Facebook’s “Likes” could replace Google’s “Links” as the currency of the internet.

Which brings me back to Levis.  Within hours of the launch of Facebook’s “Like” button it was estimated up to 50,000 businesses had embedded the simple bit of code to add the wee thumbs up logo to their website.

True to the company’s gold rush roots, Levis in the US sensed an opportunity and created a huge online buzz by going a step further. It has built its entire online shopping experience around the “Like” functionality. Social shopping has well and truly arrived.

But this is about more than filling the online shopping cart. Journalists, PR people, marketers and advertising experts are just getting used to the arrival of social media. Now we may all have to adjust further.

Just as we got used to the comfy old jeans we’ve been wearing for years, we’ve suddenly been told we need to find a new look on an almost daily basis. What’s not to “Like”?

This article first appeared on www.allmediascotland.com, where Scott Douglas is a regular blogger and contributor.


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