Designing Free People

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When reading Ben Shields’ chapter, “Designing Social Content,” I couldn’t help but think of the Free People brand. For those that don’t know, Free People is a clothing brand targeting females in their 20s, with a bohemian feel. As they put it on their website, their audience is, “a 26-year-old girl, smart, creative, confident and comfortable in all aspects of her being, free and adventurous, sweet to tough to tomboy to romantic. A girl who likes to keep busy and push life to its limits, with traveling and hanging out and everything in between. Who loves Donovan as much as she loves The Dears, and can’t resist petting any dog that passes her by on the street.”

A very specific type of person. With this specific type of person Free People wants to reach, they absolutely have to actively keep their social medias on brand. Shields states that the building blocks of social content are message, voice, and share proposition. In describing each of these, I will quote Shields,

“Message—What exactly are you trying to communicate to your audience?

Voice—The expression of your brand’s personality through content. Personality is who you are; voice is what you say.

Share proposition—The reason why your audience should share your content.”

Though these 3 ideas are not immediately relevant with every brand—i.e. they are not saying “this is our message, this is our voice, and this is our share proposition!”—they are ideas that are always taken into account when posting.

Let’s look at their instagram:

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Free People’s Instagram bio immediately says who they are and who they are trying to reach. They also advertise their alternate Instagram dedicated to workout wear, their snapchat, and their website for continued interaction. Through these things, as well as an initial look at their feed, Free People stays true to their voice.

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As we click into a post, we see that their voice here is also consistent. The photo, though just a picture of a cat, is on brand with the lounging around (beautifully) aspect of their brand, and makes the user click to see what the caption might be. “Our dreams just came true” with a shocked cat emoji and a shooting star is not something you’d see posted on, say, Adidas’ Instagram, but is very appropriate for the voice of Free People. This is also an example of shareable content, as it advertises free shipping. Certainly the 104 comments are full of people tagging their friends to alert them of the free shipping. These posts can also be sent through direct messaging, screenshotted and texted, or simply for providing information to share with friends. There is a call to action within this post, and it definitely qualifies as shareable content.

On Free People’s Twitter:

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We have a tweet that shows someone working for their brand, whom represents their brand, and providing a link to an article about her and her style. This is a great example of an articulated message. The caption gives the user a clear idea of what will be in the link and who they are looking at. At this point, they can choose to read more or move on.

As an added portion, I would like to share a piece from their youtube channel:

As if their social medias weren’t enough, Free People has a youtube channel with tons of content furthering their brand. Feel free to check it out if you want to see more. However, the most interesting thing they’ve done, in my opinion, is a series of short films. About 3 years ago, they were consistently putting out short films that essentially embodied the Free People girl. There were about 10 of these at one point, though they deleted most of them (I don’t know why). My friend and I were obsessed with these short films—they were always so beautiful and dreamy, and had no motivation other than that. They always had some little storyline, usually a love story. Of course, this is a crazy tactic. Getting Free People buyers to interact with them EVEN MORE, and showing a life that the buyer, if falling under their audience, would absolutely want. With the main character clothed in Free People.

Wild stuff.

That’s all I have to say about Free People. Thanks for having a read.

Buy, Sell, Trade, Sell, Sell, Sell.

I’ve often thought about the concept of online communities. Of course, social medias can create this. At their core, they are made to connect people—though not all of these people have common interests. However, it’s not hard to find like-minded people through these platforms. I’ve made friends from Instagram purely based on similarities in our “aesthetics,” but this isn’t the norm. When thinking, “hmm, what online communities am I involved in?” I realized the main one—Buy, Sell, Trade apps.

Okay, I’m not gonna lie. Over the years, I may have accumulated a fair amount of clothing and shoes. And by fair, I mean a lot. I can’t help that my sense of style has been ever-changing, and only now has it begun to hit a plateau. So, there are a lot of things sitting around in my closets that haven’t been touched in years. BUT, just because I no longer am fond of these items does not decrease their monetary value or value to someone else. ONE LADY’S TRASH IS ANOTHER LADY’S TREASURE! Poshmark, an app dedicated to buying, selling, and trading, came about at the perfect time. I can now list my dumb things and other people are going to think they’re great! Who knows what someone else may be searching for.

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It soon became obvious to me that there are certain ways of being on Poshmark. It’s not just about the clothing, but also about how you operate on this app. When surfing through items, it’s pretty much commonplace to comment the following few things:

lower?

trade?

try on?

Almost nobody is going to buy an item without FIRST inquiring if the person listing is willing to go lower on the price. And, if the price is low enough (or if the user is confident enough), they’ll propose a trade. Trades are almost always declined, as nobody who asks has something equal in value to what they’re asking to trade. It’s a very silly thing. Humphreys writes, “they share particular, identifiable social traits,” which I absolutely found to be true. The norms created on Poshmark are hard to miss.

If the user has added photos of their item without providing one of it being modeled, there will be someone asking, without a doubt, for the person to add a photo of the item being tried on. This is just the etiquette created on Poshmark. Once you’ve been using it for a bit, you understand these rules and participate the correct way on the app. There are even tips provided by the Poshmark makers on how to best get your item to sell.

Users can get quite desperate at times and add photos to their profile such as this:m_55ba8beb519f3a489f005a27.jpg

When I wasn’t finding what I needed or wanted on Poshmark, I turned to another app: Depop. Depop is wild because it’s much more than Poshmark. Depop’s community REALLY focuses on the aesthetics of the photos. It’s pretty much impossible to sell your item if you don’t have beautiful or interesting photos to go along with it. The concept of deindividuation—”this sense of a mass of people acting as one entity”—that Humphreys discusses is largely at play. Additionally, Depop has a “popular” page that allows for browsing chosen items by Depop’s creators. Here, I have noticed a handful of users that are featured nearly every single day. As Humphreys says, “A sense of common identification and affiliation simply emerges from repeated communication with others over a span of time.” Once a Depop user has proved themselves (by having beautiful photos and successfully selling a few items), their ability to sell becomes consistent. A curated shop is created for the purpose of selling. One user in particular, internetgirl, has this down to a science:

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Through this, trusted users are created, and other users look to them for guidance on how to sell and for purchasing. Honestly, I still am unsure on how to reach this level of popularity on Depop, but it seems like it is almost a full time job. Internetgirl is consistently adding new items, which means she is probably consistently searching for new items to sell. This is a level of dedication that most users cannot commit to, but it is appreciated by the community. Though friendship or conversation is not the main goal of these apps, they are creating a strange sense of community within people to act and participate in very particular ways.

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