A friend spotted this in the changing rooms at Gap.
This is a classic example of a brand not thinking strategically about its community efforts.
Gap sell products which aren’t interesting for most customers to talk about (with some notable exceptions), but they know they should be doing something with their customers during or after the purchase.
Back in the old days, this would have been a coupon on their next purchase. Then it became a link to join the mailing list. Then a link to join a branded online community. After that, it was to ‘like’ a page on Facebook. Now it’s a link to use a hashtag and to follow the brand on Twitter.
Once someone is trying on clothes or has purchased a product, what is the most valuable action the brand can take next? What is the most direct route to achieving that outcome?
1) Repeat purchase. Include a limited-time offer to buy something else. Have people sign up to a mailing list to claim a special offer. Encourage people to take photos of the link to get the offer.
2) Refer a friend. The customer can refer a friend. This can be with a coupon they can share or by talking about Gap to their friends. In this case, add a discount code they can claim and share (for online purchases). Add the code (or hashtag) to the mirror in the changing room. Every image now includes the discount code by default. This is so simple to do and will encourage people to share more photos with their friends.
3) Give honest feedback. Make this simple. Ask customers to share one-sentence feedback on Twitter or Facebook. Invite those that do to join a customer panel to collaborate on feedback and speak on behalf of customers.
4) Conversion. Encourage people trying on the products to buy them. I’d create an app ‘buy or not buy’ which lets people take photos of their clothes while trying them on with a snap-poll feature which asks friends whether they should ‘buy or not buy’.
Notice that all of these involve some user to user, member to member, interaction but we would not refer to any of them as a community alone. This is because a traditional community just isn’t suited to most companies. But elements of the community can be used in many different ways to drive positive outcomes. This is a little more nuanced than community is the future of every business, but probably far closer to reality.