TMM’s Thoroughly Modern Success Stories: Steph Prange, “Once You Go Icebreaker You’ll Never Go Back!”
Steph Prange is the Social Media Community Manager for Icebreaker, a New Zealand based outdoor athletic apparel company who’s products are made of 100% Merino wool.
Icebreaker inspires people to reconnect with nature, wearing products developed by nature. This same approach to connect is also taken to the digital world. They are very active and involved with their online community. Comments from Icebreaker’s Facebook page include,
” Love Icebreaker – it’s all I wear. Icebreaker is the only company that understands Merino. It’s because it is more than a product it is a second skin”
“…the product does all that it is advised to do. The new American fit is a big hit. Keep it up Icebreaker. You just keep getting better and better…”
It’s clear that the tagline, “Once you go Icebreaker you’ll never go back” from their current “My First Time” campaign, is shared and agreed by many.
After meeting with Steph at Icebreaker’s US operations office in NW Portland for an informational interview, it was a pleasant surprise to find that she was a recent graduate of PSU’s CEPE Digital Marketing Strategy (DMS) Certificate program!
Steph’s background includes master’s degrees in Business Management and Business Administration. While working for Rogue Ales and Spirits she was asked to take on the role of Social Media Manager. To help progress herself into the new role, she began attending industry networking events. She came across a PSU event for perspective students, current students and alumni about the digital industry.
She soon found out about the DMS Certificate and as a result decided to enroll. She knew the program would teach her not just about social media marketing, but about other marketing disciplines such as affiliate, search, e-mail, mobile and display marketing, to name a few.
Congratulations, Steph on your success!
What are some of your responsibilities as Social Media Community Manager?
Oversee all aspects of social media efforts relevant to engagement, building connectivity and maintaining/growing online communities designed to build awareness, drive traffic and sales.
Work closely with Digital Team to execute a comprehensive social media strategy, coordinating with marketing efforts to ensure its effectiveness, and encouraging adoption of relevant social media techniques into the company culture (and into all of the company’s products and services).
Set benchmarks and capture learning/best practices
Implement, manage and execute social media content development including daily content calendars
Track and report metrics around social posts and fan engagement, apply strategic analysis to feed learning’s back to the team.
What are some examples of directly implementing what you learned from the program to your current position?
Many times managers feel that because you’ve dug into the details of the technical specifics of a social platform that makes you an expert, unfortunately this means you may have no clue how to connect with your audience and achieve real results integrating social media into the business. Here are a few things I have learned and implemented:
Listen to Learn – Establish relationships by being a good listener; social media offers an abundance of real-time, real-life information. Listening to what our fans, industry, and competitors are saying on social to clue us into what people are really saying and sharing about the brand.
Responsive – To maintain communication, it is essential to respond to all comments and questions as quickly as possible to let audiences know that they’re valued.
Real and Relatable – Being sincere, open, and honest with your audiences. This earnest approach also makes our content and contact much more relatable and reliable.
Lead the Way – While gaining followers is good, it’s important to be social media leaders by making decisions that best suit the brand, exploring unique approaches, and empowering people to support our strategies.
Avoid Acting Like a Marketer – As the name suggests, “social media” is meant for socializing more than selling.
Patience – Building relationships takes time and effort, so does social media. It’s easy to gain fellowship through paid advertising on social; but what is the point in having a large fellowship when only a small percentage are interacting.
Current Events – It’s important to stay on top of timely and topical issues.
Real Social Interaction – Go beyond social media and into the world to connect and communicate with consumers. There is a time and place to pick up the phone or send out a letter in order to engage audiences in a real-life, real-world way.
How has the DMS program helped you to be successful in what you do?
The courses have helped me to develop and integrate social initiatives with an overall marketing plan, as well as other digital marketing efforts, including websites, search, e-mail, mobile campaigns, and various online promotions.
How do you plan out your marketing strategy?
I have been fortunate to work for businesses that encourage freedom and creativity, but it’s essential to align with your company’s operational and marketing plans while incorporating the social strategy.
Overall social goals for engagement and fan growth should be set along with individual campaigns.
Editorial calendars are key to creating and sharing your content. They help you to focus on needs of audience and the business; think further ahead; integrate across social mediums; and help drive your internal team. Planning meetings also help to integrate sales, PR, marketing, graphics, creative and legal.
What is an important skill that is needed to be successful in your position?
You need to be able to adapt quickly and to be curious. You may follow all the latest digital news, but being curious as to the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ is very important.
These traits can help identify trends from seemingly ordinary data and distinguish how marketers can benefit from the information.
Social is an ever-adapting world and there isn’t a How-To handbook for everything. You can blaze trails and adapt current practices to set yours digital efforts apart from others.
What resources do you use to stay up to date on marketing practices and changes in the industry?
I attend a number of local events (Content Strategy PDX, PDX DMC, PSU’s CEPE, Social Media Marketing PDX) as well as hold a monthly get together with my cohorts from the PSU DMS classes. I follow sites like:
…the list goes on!
Do you have any resources that inspire you for creative marketing ideas?
I definitely follow others within the outdoor apparel industry – it is very important to know what your competitors are doing and what is working/not working for them.
I enjoy Seth Godin’s blog. I also follow great Twitter accounts like Guy Kawasaki (@GuyKawasaki) and Eric Peterson (@erictpeterson).
Any tips for someone pursuing a career in digital marketing?
Get yourself involved to earn some “digital currency”. Attending networking events and creating your online presence helps others to see you as a subject matter expert.
Also, remember to disconnect! We stare at our computers all day at work, and then we check our phones, tablets, etc.
Being in the digital marketing world increases this…you are always asking yourself “what happened on _____” (insert: our website, email, Facebook page, Twitter account, and the list goes on).
Like all things in our life we need to limit the time spend online to save our sanity.
How do you define success?
I would have to say success is defined by effectiveness: you set a goal and work to achieve it. It is extremely rewarding to know that because of your contribution you were able to see results.
Icebreaker’s US operations moved to Portland, OR in 2007, adding to Portland’s growing footwear and outdoor apparel industry. Icebreaker is sold in more than 3,000 stores and 43 countries.
Go to Icebreaker.com for more information about the company and their ethical and sustainable business practices.
Here’s a great video about how Icebreaker Merino Wool works.
Check this one out. It’s about their Supply Chain and how their clothing is made:
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