Practicology is now Pattern

By Joanna Perry | Head of Marketing

Every brand hopes its owned social media content will go viral, but what can smaller retailers do to make 15 minutes of fame pay off?

Birmingham retailer Roman Originals found out last month when it became the subject of an unexpected social media phenomenon known as #TheDress.

If you’ve been living under a rock and have no idea what #TheDress is all about then here’s a quick recap.

On 26 February a blogger on Tumblr posted a picture of a Roman Originals dress asking: is it blue & black or white & gold?  It may seem like a simple question, but social media users were divided.

The hashtag #TheDress started trending on Twitter and there have since been over four million mentions of the hashtag. The story was picked up by Buzzfeed and mainstream media worldwide. Even celebrities like Kanye West and Taylor Swift chimed in on the debate.

The original tweet made no mention of Roman Originals, nor did the tweets from celebrities. So how did the retailer take ownership of the situation?


#TheDress How fashion brand Roman Originals created owned social media content

Take control of the conversation to create owned social media content

1. Join The Conversation - Roman Originals had no prior warning about the tweet, but within hours the retailer had joined the conversation, retweeted posts and created owned social media content. Subsequent media coverage frequently mentioned Roman Originals as the creators of #TheDress.

2. Take Ownership Of The Conversation - Next the brand changed its website homepage, added #TheDress to titles and produced new creative material. It drafted in the help of an advertising company and created marketing material for its bricks and mortar stores. The brand ensured new stock of the original dress was available and increased stock levels of other products. Links to buy #TheDress became the subject of a second wave of interest.

3. Continue The Conversation - As the real colour was revealed (it was blue & black) social media interest started to slow down. The phenomenon would have lasted less than a week if Roman Originals hadn’t continued the conversation. The brand created an exclusive white & gold version which it decided to auction on Ebay with profits donated to Comic Relief. This ensured continued media coverage.

Roman Originals produced a huge amount of content around the creation of the #whiteandgold dress. Content included both candid pictures of staff making the garment and a proper photo-shoot with former Miss England Laura Coleman (see picture below). With a bank of owned social media content available the brand will no doubt continue to ride the coat tails of #TheDress for months to come.


#TheDress How fashion brand Roman Originals created owned social media content

Capitalise On viral social media coverage in five steps

1. React quickly and use monitoring tools to gain insights.

2. Keep the tone of owned social media content in line with the organic material, don’t hijack something fun and make it boring.

3. Not all content needs high production values, timeliness will trump quality in viral campaigns.

4. Use social coverage to draw traffic to all retail channels, not just ecommerce.

5. Recognise if you don’t have the resources in-house to produce and manage owned social media content and get help from external agencies.

It will be interesting to watch how Roman Originals can continue to successfully capitalise on this exposure in the months to come.


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