Vancouver-based lifestyle brand Herschel Supply is a pioneer when it comes to good social strategy.
With over 1M followers on Instagram alone, the design-driven accessories brand has successfully built a cult following with international appeal.
In this edition of 5 Minutes With, Hershel Supply’s Brand Experience Manager, Laura Ingham, shares her career journey, the ethos behind Hershel’s social strategy, and the biggest opportunities for growth in 2021.
Laura Ingham never set out to be the Brand Experience Manager for one of the world’s biggest backpack brands.
In fact, her career goal was to become a teacher.
“Initially I went to Queen’s University in Ontario to pursue English Language & Literature and Drama so that those could be my two teachable subjects,” she shares.
However, a stint as a Marketing Producer for a student-led theatre during her third year of university changed everything.
“I absolutely loved it. Finding a discipline that combined strategic thinking and creativity felt like the perfect marriage of my passions, so I hurriedly wrapped up my degree to move back to Vancouver and pursue marketing.”
Back in Vancouver, Laura entered the Marketing Management Communications program at BCIT, took on several marketing internships, and landed a full-time role with an advertising agency after graduating.
“I spent four years working with a large multitude of clients, ranging from government, consumer packaged goods, alcohol, and jewelry,” she explains.
During this time, Laura also started a marketing consultancy company, and “soon built a portfolio of clients servicing social media strategy and content production.”
It was this combination of broad marketing experience and social strategy that led Laura to become a social media manager, first with Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, then with Herschel Supply, before transitioning into her current role as Brand Experience Manager.
Now armed with some of the best social media insights in the business, we asked Laura to share her top learnings:
Later: Herschel Supply has transcended beyond selling products to become a lifestyle brand. How do you support this on social media?
We are definitely a lifestyle brand.
Our founder Jamie Cormack once said to me that a bag enables peoples’ creative journeys because it quite literally facilitates a person to carry the tools they need to practice their craft, travel, and commute.
This gives us an opportunity to create content that applies to a multitude of situations and authentically resonates with our community.
Our mission is to inspire creative thinking with content based on art, culture, and travel.
Later: How do you plan and collect content for social media?
Planning social content means conceptualizing how we can use editorial storytelling to highlight our products, campaigns, and partnerships.
Collecting social assets is a matter of getting them produced -- and we predominantly produce all of our social content in-house.
Alongside our exceptional marketing, production and creative teams, I’m able to curate our content and bring it to life on social media.
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Later: How does Herschel Supply use its Community of Travellers program and #WellTravelled to elevate community storytelling?
Community of Travellers is a long-standing Herschel program. We use the program to elevate stories of people who inspire us with their creative pursuits and passions.
#WellTravelled was started many years ago (before I arrived at Herschel). It’s born out of the brand’s innate connection to travel and travel content -- and has been used more than 5M times to date.
It’s common practice at Herschel to say we’re travelers, not tourists. I think this is reflected by our community’s usage of #WellTravelled.
Journeys aren’t all about the destination, and we hope that content produced for #WellTravelled reflects all stages of travel. The grit, uncertainty, and spontaneity.
Later: How do you create such a strong visual aesthetic?
If I had to summarize our aesthetic in four words it would be: aspirational, authentic, classic, creative.
A strong social aesthetic is the result of a collaborative creative team.
Our Instagram, for example, is absolutely a team achievement. Through the partnership of our creative, production, and marketing teams, we're able to ensure that our content visually represents Hershel's brand values to a tee.
For static posts, Later's Visual Planner is incredibly helpful.
Being able to generate a URL to circulate the grid preview with the team is amazing, and helps to ensure visibility of the Instagram plan within the organization.
ICYMI: Later’s free Visual Instagram Planner allows you to preview your feed aesthetic before you post -- so you can curate the perfect Instagram grid for your brand.
Later: What platforms are you most excited about for 2021? Where do you see opportunities for growth?
Professionally, I’m interested in four areas in particular:
Instagram as a video sharing platform. The latest update from Instagram, detailing how it’s no longer a photo sharing app, has me intrigued. I’m interested to see how this will continue to affect organic photo performance, and what else Instagram has up their sleeve to compete with TikTok.
The progression of live-stream social commerce. With Instagram placing a much larger focus on commerce, and with the introduction of new social commerce apps, it will be interesting to see brands and creators use live-stream commerce to drive revenue.
Twitter usage is increasing. Time spent in the app is increasing year-on-year, and with the development of shoppable Tweets, I’m keen to see how Twitter will continue to evolve.
And of course, TikTok. I wonder how the rise of TikTok ads will impact audience behavior and overall app usage.
Later: On that note, how is Herschel Supply using Instagram’s new features like Reels and Guides?
We lean into new channel innovation to harness as much organic reach as possible.
Pivoting from in-feed video to Reels has allowed us to see a massive increase in video views -- I love the challenge of rethinking how our content can adjust to fit new mediums.
Later: And finally, what are your top 3 Instagram tips for other social media managers?
Leverage new mediums.
Instagram will always give better organic reach to new mediums -- make sure to keep up to date with new releases and prepare your team to be flexible and adapt content to new formats.
Be your team’s expert and advocate.
One of my favorite ways to engage with my colleagues is to host a #social-411 Slack channel, where I share channel updates including spec changes, channel innovations, and creative inspiration. It’s a great way to ensure the team is up to date on the ever-changing social landscape and facilitate virtual conversations while our team is working remotely.
Ensure there is visibility of the social plan within your organization.
It’s both one of the biggest challenges -- and the greatest privileges -- that a social media manager’s work is so visible to an organization. To ensure there’s no surprises (and mitigate feedback after hitting “share”), make sure there is cross-functional integrated planning to give your wider team visibility to content.
Later’s 5 Minutes With series will be returning soon! Until then, sign up to our free email newsletter for industry news, interviews, and content tips to help you grow your business on social media.
*Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.