If You Want Something Done Right, Do It Yourself
CLYW is a high-end Canadian return top company. You may not have heard of a “return top” before – that’s because they’re more commonly referred to as yo-yos (yo-yo is still trademarked in Canada). Chris Mikulin, CLYW’s Owner, started the Caribou Lodge Yo-Yo Works company in 2006 because he was dissatisfied with all of the yo-yo products on the market.
Chris got into yo-yoing for fun in college, where he studied mechanical engineering. After school, he quickly became addicted to yo-yos while designing directional drilling tools. As he grew his collection (buying one to two yo-yos every week), he found that yo-yos weren’t really designed for adults and required modification to do the tricks he wanted to do.
As a result, he teamed up with another local yo-yoer, Paul Wallace, to create their dream yo-yo. When they released their first round for sale, their online sales server crashed. They were incredibly popular. They’ve been growing rapidly ever since, with Chris eventually quitting his full-time engineering job to devote all of his time to CLYW.
CLYW’s products are $120–185 a pop, so they aren’t looking to hook kids on yo-yoing for the first time. Instead, they’re marketing to those in the industry who have gotten started and want something more.
Steve Brown, CLYW’s Marketing Manager describes their products: “In the same way that you can go to the grocery store and you can buy butter, and it works just fine, but then you can also go to the local farmer’s market and get fancy artisanal butter that only comes from vegetarian cows that are milked on for days. Everything is ever so perfect and precise. That is the kind of yo-yo company that we are.”
Hooking Yo-Yo Fans on Social
Steve and Chris do all of CLYW’s social media themselves, making sure to sign their names specifically on messages so it’s clear who is talking. They know they may have to turn social media execution over to others on a team at some point, but for now they love being able to connect directly with their audience. Not only does it help them keep tabs on the pulse of the community, but it means so much to the fans when they know it’s Chris or Steve writing them back.
Last year, Chris actually took a year off from CLYW to work for a digital marketing company. He took a break to learn something new, which has now bumped CLYW up to the next level: ever since May of last year, they’ve been the #1 yo-yo company on social media.
CLYW sponsors a team of yo-yoers who are passionate about CLYW products, which draws in a lot of yo-yoers. Once introduced, Chris and Steve have been able to build a really dedicated fan base across several platforms, specifically Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. The key is their “no hashtag left behind” policy, where they make it a point to interact with everyone who talks to them on social media. (highlight to tweet) According to Chris, “We’re the ones that are really hustling. We have three to four times more engagement than everyone else.”
One way they’ve found great success in creating relationships on social media is through Snapchat. They started by letting their fan base on Facebook know how to reach them on Snapchat (at clywcanada) and saw a huge influx of people. They’ve done some great contests and behind-the-scenes videos to increase engagement on Snapchat. But the real connection is coming from direct snaps, fitting in with their “no hashtag left behind” policy. Instead of responding with “Hey, thanks for your support” generically, Chris replies to direct snaps with snaps of his own.
“I’m just loving Snapchat. I’m getting interactions that I’ve never had before with the fans over the last nine years of doing this. It’s almost like that one-to-one in-person conversations I have with people when I’m at contests, but then you get to add in the goofy fun stuff Snapchat allows you to.”
To Chris and Steve, the loyalty and enthusiasm of their fans make the extra hours they spend on social media well worth it. (highlight to tweet)
See you next week!