Social Pros Greatest Hits – Is This the Best Business on Instagram?

Social Pros Greatest Hits - Is This the Best Business on Instagram?

On this encore episode we hear from Griffin Thall as he discusses using influencer marketing and user-generated content to dominate Instagram

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Full Episode Details

Can you Dominate Instagram?Social Pros Greatest Hits - Is This the Best Business on Instagram?

As one of the fastest-growing marketing channels today, leveraging the power of Instagram to help sell products and services is a smart business move for sure. But, is it possible to build the back of an entire company on Instagram usage alone?

We’ve got a special encore episode of the show for you this week, where we’ve reached back into the Social Pros archives to bring you one of our favorite episodes of the year featuring Griffin Thall, CEO, and Co-Founder of Pura Vida Bracelets. Since appearing on the show, Griffin and his partner have cashed in and sold a majority stake of their company to Vera Bradley for $75 million.

When you listen to this episode and hear how Griffin and his team transformed a humble business into a global powerhouse using a strategic approach to user-generated content and influencer marketing, that $75 million starts sounding like a pretty good deal. After all, Pura Vida Bracelets has been crowned one of the best businesses on Instagram with an engaged following that helps the brand ship millions of bracelets each month.

In This Episode:

  • 06:35 – The origin story of Pura Vida Bracelets and how they went from a small brand in Costa Rica to a global sensation selling millions of bracelets each month
  • 11:47 – How social media has aided Pura Vida’s success
  • 14:37 – How Pura Vida works with user-generated content (UGC content) and influencers to increase engagement and boost their presence on Instagram
  • 18:00 – Why you should experiment on Instagram to find out what works for you
  • 22:14 – Tips for working with influencers in the most effective way
  • 27:14 – Why it’s important to work with brand representatives/ambassadors and key differences between online and in-person word-of-mouth marketing
  • 30:51 – Why reviews and social-proof are vital to a brand’s success both online and offline

Quotes From This Episode:

“We have so much traffic coming from organic that when you layer on the paid efforts and blend the two, it creates a much more efficient and affordable way to acquire customers at scale.” – @griffinthall

We want to be where our customers are, we want to be active, authentic, organic and creative. Click To Tweet

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Episode Transcript

  • Jay

    Hey, Social Pros fans, it’s Jay Baer from Convince and Convert. You long-time listeners will know that one of the inside jokes here on Social Pros is that oftentimes people come on this show as a guest, and they end up changing jobs right away. It’s something that happens again and again. Part of it’s just, I think, a symptom of the social media community that we all live in, but one of our guests on the show this year didn’t just change jobs, in fact he didn’t change jobs at all, but he cashed in.

  • One of our favorite episodes of the last year or so is with Griffin Thall, who is the co-founder of Pura Vida Bracelets. And subsequent to his recording of this Social Pros episode, he and his partner sold the company to Vera Bradley, at least a majority of the company, for $75 million, with an option for another $50 million on top of that. Why? Because they are absolutely dominant at Instagram, have built almost the entire company on the back of smart Instagram usage. That’s why this is one of our favorite episodes of the year. Please enjoy this special encore episode of Social Pros, featuring Griffin Thall from Pura Vida Bracelets, and we’ll see you next week.

  • Griffin

    If you could find people that you think are the perfect ambassador, the perfect look for your brand, then shoot them an email, send them a DM, and compliment them for their work. Become friends with them, and tell them that you would love if their, would be part of your brand. And the next time they’re hiking a huge cliff in Kauai, that they put bracelets and rings in their backpack. Or, the next time that you have a trip planned to go to Bali with some other influencers, invite that one on board.

  • Create this family, create this network of relationships with people that, when they talk about how Instagram has affected them, they’re going to talk about Pura Vida. And I think that’s what’s been so successful is, we truly become friends with these influencers. We’re not just looking at their following and saying, “Hey, can you post? Hey, can you post?” Because, at the end of the day, that’s not going to get you anywhere.

  • Jay

    You know, we hear a lot about influencer marketing today in social media, even on this particular podcast. And there’s always a lot of like, “I don’t know. Who should our influencers be? How are we going to pick them? Whatever.” Our guest this week on the show, Griffin Thall, who’s the CEO and co-founder of Pura Vida, just, that statement about how they match up influencers to the brand is so spot on. Don’t you think, Adam?

  • Adam

    It is. I mean, Griffin and the entire team at Pura Vida, the influencer whisperers if you would. I am impressed with their product, I’m impressed with the charitable side that we get into on this show, but most importantly I am blow away by how they’re using social media, how they’re using, and how they’re using all these other type of marketing devices, doing nothing overly complex, Jay. It’s the basic things that we talk about almost every week, about authenticity and genuineness, great content, and great photography.

  • Jay Baer

    I’ll tell you what. It’s just consistently outstanding execution.

  • Adam

    Yes, that’s it.

  • Jay

    I’ll tell you this right now. I don’t think I’ve ever said this on this show, in nine years. I do a lot of presentations, both on stage and for clients, and my new Instagram best practice example is this guy, this company, and this show, Pura Vida. It’s that good. If you’ve ever even thought about using Instagram, which you probably have if you’re listening to this podcast, listen to this episode. It’s going to blow you away. Griffin Thall from Pura Vida. It’s a good one.

  • Before we jump into it and hear more from Griffin, I just want to acknowledge our sponsors. Salesforce Marketing Cloud, our good friends at Salesforce have a spectacular download that you have to get before we replace the thing to have you download. It’s called the State of Marketing Report.

  • Salesforce interviewed 4100 marketers from around the world. Adam did not interview all 4100 of them, but some people did. They discovered a lot of really fascinating facts about how social’s role is changing in business, the role of social in B2B, the role of artificial intelligence in marketing today. It’s really great. Grab it. It’s not going to cost you anything. Just do this after the show, go to bit.ly/jaysays, B-I-T dot L-Y slash J-A-Y-S-A-Y-S. Grab a copy of the State of Marketing.

  • Also this week, a new sponsor back after a hiatus, our friends at TechSmith. TechSmith makes tools like Snagit and Camtasia, that allows anybody to create custom screenshots, webcasts, edit videos. And you don’t have to have any experience. You can absolutely, positively figure this out. As we know, multimedia is so important in social, and business in general. In fact, Griffin talks about it a lot in this episode. If you’re really intimidated by using some of the more advanced packages, don’t be, because the guys at TechSmith will set you straight, and I’m not just saying this. I use TechSmith Camtasia and Snagit literally every single day.

  • Adam

    I use Snagit at least six times a day. I’m looking at the icon on my computer right now.

  • Jay

    All the time, so great stuff if you’re a non-design professional, as Adam and I are not. So, you can get a special deal, 10 percent off when you buy the Camtasia Snagit bundle. To learn a little bit more about how you can use it, just go to techsmith.com, that’s Tech Smith dot com. Use the promo code SOCIALPROS. SOCIALPROS is the promo code at techsmith.com. Save 10 percent. Learn a little bit more about how it will save you time and make your visuals better.

  • Speaking of making visuals better, you’re going to learn an awful lot about that in this episode featuring Griffin Thall. I’m Jay Baer from Convince and Convert. He’s Adam Brown from Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Here we go.

  • If you look at your wrist right now, chances are, I don’t know, 99 percent, that you’re wearing a product from our guest on the show this week, the incredibly successful CEO and co-founder Pura Vida Bracelets, Griffin Thall is on the show this week. And I got to tell you, Griffin, I really appreciate you taking the time. Adam and I are so pumped to talk to you, because if there’s a brand out there that has succeeded so purely through the power of social media, I’d be hard-pressed to locate it.

  • Adam

    That’s you.

  • Jay

    And the company’s gone from you just hanging in Mexico to this powerhouse in, what, 8, 9 years, something like that? So first, thanks for being here. Second, tell the folks who are listening, the one of them who haven’t heard of Pura Vida, a little bit about the story and your journey.

  • Griffin

    For sure. Just a quick correction, it’s Costa Rica, not Mexico, but all good there.

  • Jay

    All right, I will stand corrected on Costa Rica there. I think it’s because I always go to Mexico, so I always assume that’s where everybody else goes, but I appreciate that.

  • Griffin

    Yeah. So yeah, went to San Diego State University, graduated. Probably a month later, went on a surf trip to Costa Rica with my best friend, Paul. We were just looking for surf, looking for a good time, traveling, backpacking. About four weeks in, we met these two guys on the beach, named Jorge and Joaquin, two bracelet vendors that were just making bracelets by hand on a little wooden table, right next to the surf in Dominical, Costa Rica.

  • We met these guys, asked them to make us some couple hundred bracelets. They said, “We can’t do that. We only have about 14 or 15 here.” We said, “We’ll take them all.” We go back to them the next day, ask them to make us 400 bracelets. He’s like, “You know what? Fine. Let’s do it.” We paid him up-front in cash. He went back to his house, which is across the street, in this small hut, no door, two beds on the ground, a spilled coffee pot, and that was basically it.

  • Fast-forward to today, Jorge and Joaquin, two bracelet vendors from Costa Rica now manage a team of 600 plus artisans, worldwide. They help people in Costa Rica and El Salvador. And right now they’re shipping us millions of bracelets each month.

  • Jay

    That is incredible.

  • Griffin

    That is incredible.

  • Jay

    The one thing I didn’t know about that story, in addition to confusing Mexico and Costa Rica, but the one thing I did not know was that Jorge and Joaquin were still with the company, and kind of running the production side. I did not. That’s amazing.

  • Griffin

    Yeah. Jorge and Joaquin, they still talk to our team on a daily and weekly basis. They run the team, they manage both facilities in Costa Rica and El Salvador, they manage the raw materials. All of our string is imported from Brazil. At the end of the day, we still work with these guys, the same way we felt from day one, that they’re just cool guys. They have have creative products. They’re very skilled at their craft, and we want to bring their bracelets to the United States. When you look back at it, it’s pretty crazy what’s happened in the past eight and a half years.

  • Jay

    Now, I imagine that you didn’t set out… You’re just grabbing a wave, like, “Cool bracelet, man. I think I could resell these.” You weren’t like, “Hey, this is going to be a giant company.” It just sort of worked out that way, at some point. How did that transition happen, from, sort of a spur of the moment or semi spur of the moment thing, to accelerating into an empire?

  • Griffin

    Yeah. I mean, I think with any big success, or with anything that requires a bunch of hard work, it never happens overnight. I think with me and Paul, we’ve always been very lean and disciplined, and we’ve been very scrappy and bootstrap kind of style. We were born in the Facebook and Instagram era, with influencers and social media reach and ads and content creation, and all this stuff that probably didn’t really exist five or 10 years ago.

  • So I think we’ve always been at the forefront. We’ve been innovators. And over time, just finding ways to growth hack Shopify and Instagram, and kind of just climbing our way to the top of the social ladder, that’s what’s allowed us to scale our business to 1.5 million followers on Instagram, donating $1.7 million to charity, and then taking over 600 artisans out of poverty, giving them full-time jobs.

  • Jay

    I’m glad you mentioned the charitable element. Now, this is my next question, so bravo. Talk a little bit more about the charity piece of what you’re doing. It’s almost $2 million now, to charity. How does that work? When did you start that? And, has that always sort of been part of the mission?

  • Griffin

    Yeah. I mean I think ever since we started the brand, we’ve always had a philanthropic give-back component. That was the reason why we wanted to support these artisans, the two artisans that we initially met. And then yeah, I mean, ever since we started creating bracelets on our website, people would email us and say, “Hey, we would love to get a bracelet for breast cancer awareness, because my mom has this.” Or, “My dad is autistic,” or my kid, or something that involves something that’s really close to someone’s heart.

  • I feel like after we heard these stories, we started creating bracelets in the colors of these charities and the colors of their ribbons, donating 10 percent back to these organizations. What started with one charity bracelet, now we have over, I think, 50 or 75 different SKUs just for our charity collection, and it actually is one of the best selling collections on our website, specifically because people like knowing their money does go back.

  • We’re transparent on a quarterly basis, where the money goes, how much is donated to these partners. And I think that’s what really gives our customers a lot of trust in the brands, in continuing to buy the charity products.

  • Adam

    Griffin, it’s an absolutely phenomenal story. And I’ll agree with Jay. The charitable piece of what you do is really rewarding and welcoming. I know that’s important to your consumer. I want to go back about eight and a half years, as you said, and have you talk to us about that pivot point, when you began to realize the importance, as you said, growing up in the social realm.

  • But, how did you decide, “Okay, you know what, we’re going to go from maybe selling these through a traditional retailing channel, to really making this brand what it is and where it is today, using social media. What was that first point? what was that first social channel? And, how did that propel you to where you are today?

  • Griffin

    I think for us, we just wanted to find a very easy way to make the business scalable. I think for me and Paul, just sitting at our desk and walking around to stores throughout San Diego and L.A. and asking them to buy our products, I think we really had to walk before we run, in that scenario. So for us, we really wanted to build the social following, wanted to build that credibility online, the social proof with customer reviews, before really trying to go fully the brick and mortar route.

  • So, from day one, we’ve always been selling products at surf shops, yoga studios, fitness places, gift stores. And I think by having the approach where we go both ways, through brick and mortar as well as eCommerce, it’s allowed us to create a very sustainable brand, where the customers can touch the product in person, they could buy it online, they could refer their friends through social media. And I think that full 360 scenario has allowed us to really grow the brand, and kind of do it both ways, with the new kind of techy way through Instagram, and kind of the old more brick and mortar route with the retail stores.

  • Adam

    I think one of the other remarkable things about Pura Vida Bracelets is how easy it is for you to create new product SKUs and new colors and new designs. And I think that’s a big part of that whole charitable side, because you can easily create bracelets that are of a certain color, of a certain design, emblematic of a particular philanthropy or charity.

  • I’m curious how you use social data, maybe to inform that. You obviously have your pulse on your consumers, and what they like, and what they’re doing, and you see their conversations in social media. Are you using and ingesting that information into, “Okay, here’s what we might want to do with our next philanthropy that we might want to partner with.” Or, “Here’s what we might want to do with the next color trend or design trend.”

  • Griffin

    Yeah. I mean, I think for us, we have an amazing product designer, Mia [Shek-shi-kee 00:13:42] from Forever 21. Very skilled, understands her demographic, understands the price point. And I think for Pura Vida, we create products that we predict being a trend, and we also create products that we hear from our customers.

  • And I think when you blend both of those two, and doing Instagram polls on our stories to get consumer feedback in real time, mixing that with going to trade shows and going to sourcing shows, where we get to see all these amazing materials of stones and crystals and metals mixed with spring colors and different types of trendy geometric shapes. I mean, we’ve really been the forefront on this jewelry craft and this design. And using our team in Costa Rica and El Salvador to really amplify the production has allowed us become so successful.

  • Jay

    Did you have multiple people on the team who are dedicated to running your Instagram program? Or, how are those marketing resources allocated?

  • Griffin

    All of the paid is done externally, and all the organic is done in our office. Basically, our organic strategy, I could talk about for days, but on a very high level, we use UGC, user generated content, mixed with high resolution photography from our influencers.

  • When you blend those two, it shows a transparency to the customers, that we’re normal and we don’t need to be worn by some red carpet runway fashion model, but anyone can just go to the beach, jump in the ocean with the Pura Vida Bracelets, get them wet and then just kick it on the beach and put their toes in the sand. And that photo can get 30,000 likes, and it was just basically done on someone’s iPhone in one second.

  • So we mix that with working with influencers who are professional photographers, professional models. We send them on trips around the world, with photographers. We document their experience, and we bring that story back.

  • Jay

    On the UGC side, is that called for in terms of, “Hey, this month’s photo contest will win product, et cetera,” or is it just organic, natural submissions from your customers?

  • Griffin

    It’s actually just natural submissions. I mean, we do run giveaways on Instagram every so often, but not too regularly. But right now, if you go to #PuraVidaBracelets, we have 219,000 shared photos on Instagram. And that just shows how engaged our audience is. It’s not just a handful of photos, but I mean, it’s almost a quarter million tagged photos for our brand term.

  • Jay

    Are you using some sort of software to manage and handle all those submissions and tag them and sort them?

  • Griffin

    We use a software called 460, and that’s what we use on our website. If someone does tag a photo that we do like, and we think that it represents the product well, and it could help sell it, then it will earn itself a tag and be put on our website.

  • Jay

    Nice. Do you have a set cadence for what you’re doing on Instagram? Like, “Okay, we’re going to publish with this, boom,” three a day, five a week. You’re just like, okay, like clockwork, there’s a calendar? Or is it more, when you get something that you know is special, you’re going to run it?

  • Griffin

    We post on Instagram at 10 A.M., 2 P.M., and 6 P.M. We’ve been doing that for about two or three years now. It works with our customers. We know that we’re going to get the West Coast people right when they’re maybe at work or on break. We know we’re going to get people during lunch. We know we’re going to get people right when they get off work and they’re sitting on the couch.

  • We want to be where our customers are. We want to be active. We want to be authentic and organic and creative. And I feel like Pura Vida is one of the most engaged jewelry brands on Instagram. We get even more likes and comments than brands triple our size, that are publicly traded or massive corporations. So I think that our bootstrap approach, and us continuing to be innovative, has really allowed us to grow through Instagram more than most brands have.

  • Jay

    Instagram is so important to the brand and its success. I know you’ve done a lot of testing and optimization. As we’ve talked about on this show, Adam, a few months ago when Jen Herman was on the podcast, we talked about that, that Instagram isn’t really one thing. Right? There’s a lot of different strategies there.

  • Griffin, can you talk a little bit about stills versus video versus carousels versus stories versus IGTV, and what your experiences have been there, and what best practices have proven to be for Pura Vida, knowing of course that best practices will differ based on the brand. But, what has worked for you, and maybe what hasn’t worked?

  • Griffin

    I think for us, we focus on just static photos. I think that it just, it really hits people home when they see a photo on their feed. They’re using their thumb to scroll past the photos really quickly, but when they stop and pause on your photo and give it a like, it means you’re doing something right. You’re really stopping the traffic that’s on their newsfeed, and it’s saying, “Hey, look at me.”

  • I think with the videos, you kind of want to sprinkle them in. I don’t think any brand should go only video. I don’t think that’s a good move, either. But I think for us, it’s being very photo-heavy, photo-optimized, understanding what type of photo that the customers want to see, and then experimenting with the other things, the carousel, adding a couple different photos if maybe we’re having a behind-the-scenes photo shoot, or if we’re doing something on the blog, or kind of a recap of an event we had, and we don’t want to post those event photos five times. I think there’s a good reason to maybe post all five photos in one carousel.

  • But yeah, I mean, I think for us, anything that we’re doing on our Instagram we feel is the best for the brands. We’re always testing. We’re always innovating. I think in terms of the times we do post, we feel that they’re very optimized for our customer base. And yeah, we’re excited about our strategy. We’re growing by thousands of followers every single day. We’re about to hit 1.5 million any day now. I think we’re 5K away. And yeah, we’re just, we’re excited about the platform, and it’s definitely been able to expand our brand further than we’ve ever thought.

  • Adam

    Griffin Thall, CEO and co-founder of Pura Vida, puravidabracelets.com. It’s so great to have you on this show. Griffin, I think you guys have cracked the UGC nut. It’s something that all of our listeners are very interested in. User generated content is so critical to all of them, and it’s something that we’re all wrestling with.

  • I’m curious if you have any protocol or process by which people tag their pictures. And do you just then kind of immediately use those, or do you go through any approval process to get permission? I’m curious if there’s anything that you’re doing on your end, as part of a protocol or process, in that regard.

  • Griffin

    I think for us, we just want to have very hi-res crisp photography. We have a very tight group of influencers that we work with. We’re always sourcing new ones. We really want to portray that kind of fun, beachy, free-spirited, live free vibe. And if you look at our Instagram feed and just scroll down, we have about 6373 posts, and I would say all of them tell a very similar story. And a lot of people have told us that when they see a photo floating around, whether it’s our edit or one of our models or kind of our vibe, they’re like, “I thought that was a Pura Vida post, because it looks like your guys’ vibe.

  • Jay

    I totally agree with that, by the way. Your consistency is first rate. The visual consistency, the lighting, the color usage. A lot of brands could learn a lot from what you’re doing on Instagram, because it feels very much part of a long-term project. Too many folks are engaged in random acts of Instagram, and what you’re doing is a great lesson.

  • Griffin

    Yeah.

  • Adam

    You don’t even have to see the Pura Vida to know. I mean, if you were to line up any other type of jewelry photographic content on Instagram, it immediately resonates that it’s your brand.

  • Griffin

    Yeah. I mean it just, it kind of goes back to that youthful kind of vibe, that very beachy, free-spirited mentality mix, like bohemian, live free mentality. And I think that’s really what’s been so, so consistent for us, is just sticking with that, not trying to target every single person in the world to buy our products, but just be very consistent with the brand image. The people that do want to support Pura Vida, they’re going to buy into the lifestyle through our imagery.

  • Adam

    Griffin, talk a little bit about how you work with these influencers. I noticed, when I was visiting your site a few days ago, Haley of dreaming_outloud, who has a huge follow presence on Instagram, also is one of your official ambassadors or influencers. You have products that are named for her, and vice versa. Talk to me about how you find theses new influencers, how you work with them, and then how you bring them into the fold.

  • Griffin

    I mean, I think working with influencers, you have to find people that can tell your brand’s story better than you can. They are, all they do all day is they travel, they take photos, they’re creative, they make videos, where me and my business partner works sitting behind a computer most of the week. So I think you got to understand that there’s people on Instagram that are so creative, and they’re so skilled at what they do. If you could find people that you think are the perfect ambassador, or the perfect look for your brand, then shoot them an email, send them a DM and compliment them for their work.

  • Become friends with them and tell them that you would love if their would part of your brand. And the next time they’re hiking a huge cliff in Kauai, that they put bracelets and rings in their backpack. Or, the next time that you have a trip planned to go to Bali with some other influencers, invite that one on board.

  • Create this family. Create this network of relationships with people that, when they talk about how Instagram has affected them, they’re going to talk about Pura Vida. And I think that’s what’s been so successful is, we truly become friends with these influencers. We’re not just looking at their following and saying, “Hey, can you post? Hey, can you post?” Because, at the end of the day, that’s not going to get you anywhere.

  • Adam

    Last week we had Tom Webster from Edison Research on the show, and Tom shared a lot of statistics around the growth of some social channels, and the drop in some. Instagram was one of the channels that grew in 2019, in 2018, especially with the 12-34 year olds, which I would assume is probably much closer to the demographics of Pura Vida.

  • Curious. Obviously you are heavily invested in Instagram. Are there any other social channels that you’re looking at or testing, and working with? If you were to put your crystal ball or fortune telling hat on, would you see your strategy being any different a year from now, in terms of how you’re using the social channels for either marketing or for social customer care?

  • Griffin

    I mean, yeah. For us, Instagram is still number one. Obviously, we’re heavy advertisers on Facebook and Instagram. But yeah, for us, we’ve been testing out Snapchat a lot in terms of paid. We don’t really use Snapchat that much in terms of organic, but as a pay channel and buying impressions to be in the front of our customers’ newsfeeds as they’re scrolling through, has been very successful for us. We’ve kind of found a way to really untop a very younger demographic, the 13 to 18 year olds that are very active on Snapchat are coming to Pura Vida to buy. They’re looking at the site. Maybe, if they’re not buying on that purchase they’re buying it in a local surf shop or boutique.

  • I think Snapchat is going to continue to grow in skill for us. Also, I do think that working with influencers as the face of your brand on Instagram Stories is definitely going to be the next wave. And I think it’s easy to say that, but it’s tough to execute on it. It’s not just about putting someone in front of a camera and having them talking. It’s about someone that is very loyal to your brand, talking about your brand consistently, on a weekly or monthly basis, wearing the products in all their stuff and just being truthful.

  • So, I think once customers see that five or six times, and an influencer talking about your product, they’re going to be very likely to buy, as opposed to just posting a photo on their page.

  • Jay

    We won’t get into it too much, because I know it’s handled out of house, but your products are affordable. Right? I mean, that’s one of the magic elements of Pura Vida bracelets and rings is that, you know, it’s not massively inexpensive, but it’s $10, $20, somewhere in that ballpark. And so that being the case, on the paid side you’ve got to be really good at paid. Right? Because you don’t have a ton of margin there to play with. I mean, you’ve got to keep impressions and clicks at a reasonable cost, and have a pretty high conversion rate.

  • Griffin

    Yeah. I think for us, the reason why our paid efforts have been so successful is because our organic efforts really help that a lot. And I think a lot of brands that are like, “Oh, I’m going to build a site on Shopify, and I’m going to use Facebook ads to drive sales,” well, if you have zero followers then they’re not going to trust the brand. It’s going to keep those CPAs really high.

  • For us, we have so much traffic coming from organic, and so many new followers coming from organic on a daily basis that, when you layer on the paid efforts and blend the two, it creates a much more efficient and affordable way to acquire customers to scale. One really big way that we’re able to do that is we have about over 50,000 Pura Vida reps that have signed up on our website to become a brand ambassador on Instagram. They receive a rep promo code. They receive products and stickers. And there’s incentives to go through this program with different tiers.

  • All of these people, on a monthly and daily basis, are posting about the brand, driving traffic. Once again, organic. We are not paying for those ads to be in the newsfeed of their friends. And I think that, blended with our page of 1.5 million followers, and then you layer on the paid, it creates a very lean way to acquire customers at scale.

  • Adam

    I am curious about that reps program, because I think it’s interesting. One of the things that I noted when I went to your website and I looked at the reps page, it said, “If you’re not on social media, need not apply.” That was very important, critical, which kind of brings me to my question, Griffin. How important is it for those reps to be sharing your message and surround-sounding your message in social, versus more face-to-face with their friends, their coworkers, their classmates? Curious what that balance of the reps responsibility is, and how you measure the success of both of those.

  • Griffin

    Yeah. I mean, I think there’s no way to measure word of mouth. I mean it’s just, you can’t track it.

  • Adam

    I would disagree there, but that’s okay.

  • Jay

    Well, we won’t get into that.

  • Adam

    I just wrote a whole book about it, but it’s okay.

  • Griffin

    Okay, sorry.

  • Jay

    It’s just funny. Good.

  • Griffin

    I think for us, we specifically measure the rep program through coupon codes and through trackable links. We have a team in our office full-time, just focused on the rep program, the rep Instagram, the rep Facebook group, as well as the rep email cadence. That goes out on a weekly basis. That’s all trackable through direct clicks and codes.

  • I think for us, we know there’s a lot of benefit to the reps, outside of digital. The word of mouth that they’re doing on their campuses or in their sororities or on their sports teams, we know that that carries over. Can we measure it through a pixel? No. Can we measure it through a coupon code? No. But I do think that the impression to get online, that anyone gets when they buy something and they’re excited about it, they’re going to tell their roommate, they’re going to tell their best friends, they’re going to tell their significant other, because they’re that excited about it.

  • So I think for us, creating a rep program of brand ambassadors, an army of Pura Vida advocates across the world, has been very successful for us. And it’s allowed us to keep our CPAs much lower than other brands would with AOBs our size.

  • Jay

    What do you make of Insta-Checkout? Is that something that you’re going to pursue, the ability to close the loop on Instagram. I mean, your site is so well done, and so well optimized, I almost feel like, unless the conversion difference between Insta-Checkout and your site is huge, I almost feel like you’d rather send them to your site.

  • Griffin

    Yeah. I mean I think the biggest difference for us is, we have a very optimized, very fast site. We have a ton of onsite conversions that really work out well. I haven’t done a ton of research on it. I’m not sure if Instagram owns that email, or if we own the email, or is the inventory from our Shopify? I don’t know all the details on it, specifically.

  • I think there’s definitely some wins for many clothing brands that have, the product takes up the whole image, but for us a ring could only take up one or two percent of the image. Or, you know, if someone’s wearing five different bracelets, how do they checkout from one checkout button, when there could be five different SKUs but you’re only putting one SKU. It’s just very, it’s very-

  • Jay

    Yeah, I didn’t think about that. That’s a really good point. I mean, I guess a collection maybe, but yeah, it’s an interesting idea.

  • Griffin

    I think it’s, if you want to buy a pair of sunglasses on someone’s face, maybe yes. If you want to buy a sweater on someone’s body, that takes up 60 percent of the image, it could be a yes. But someone that has six different bracelets, where do you go?

  • Jay

    Yeah. I didn’t think about that. That’s really a smart point. As I mentioned, I love the site. It’s really well done and very compelling. As you said, multiple calls to action that don’t feel like you’re being beaten over the head with a call of action, it just feels really organic and natural. But I’ll tell you the thing that I like best on the site is the reliance on reviews. Right? There is a ton of social proof and customer proof.

  • As somebody who wrote a whole book about customer service and social customer experience, I was really encouraged to see how much that is merchandised. Obviously intentional on your side, but can you comment on how that’s helped you in being successful?

  • Griffin

    Yeah. I mean I think the reviews are very necessary. Anyone that is doing an eCommerce site needs to have reviews. We work with a company called Yotpo, that powers our reviews. It’s just very beneficial. I mean, on our Pura Vida Monthly Club page we have 19,704 reviews on one SKU, which is just insane. I think there’s a new five star review coming in, maybe every 30 minutes or every hour.

  • Jay

    What percentage of purchasers leave a review? That’s got to be pretty high.

  • Adam

    Yeah.

  • Griffin

    Yeah. I think ours are much higher than normal. I think maybe around 25 percent.

  • Jay

    That’s incredible.

  • Adam

    Wow.

  • Jay

    I think [crosstalk 00:31:28] standard, even with Yotpo, is one or two. Right?

  • Adam

    Yeah.

  • Jay

    So that’s amazing.

  • Griffin

    Ours is pretty insane. I think it’s because it just goes back to the customer feedback and the voice, and their excitement about the brand. Do you know what I mean? And yeah, we have one star reviews and people are angry because their order shipped late or they received a product and it was wrong. That happens. But if you look at it overall, I mean, there’s way, way, way more five star reviews than anything else. And I think that just shows, because people are very excited about the products they receive, and the packaging and stickers, and the excitement. And that’s what causes them to tell five friends, offline, a.k.a., word of mouth.

  • Adam

    It is that passion and that enthusiasm that, everything that you’re doing seems to create and motivate in your customer. I recognize this is Social Pros. We’re here talking about social, but I want to talk a little bit about some of the other marketing activities you do. You have a loyalty program. You have the Join the Club links on your website. I’m assuming there’s an email marketing program. There’s kind of a journey that goes along there, and again the beauty of bringing the social experience with the email experience together is very powerful.

  • I’d love if you could talk a little bit about what you’re doing with email, and how you’re targeting and communicating and really influencing your best customers.

  • Griffin

    For sure. For email, basically, when people enter our site they see a Spin to Win promotion. Okay? The Spin to Win promotion is powered by a software called Justuno. Right now our email capture rate based on traffic is about 23 and a half percent. That means 23.5 percent of all visitors, we capture their email through that Spin to Win promotion. Once they get that, if they do not make a purchase, okay, then it goes into our prospect series. If they do make a purchase, it’s our new customer series.

  • Basically, in each of those series there’s five or six [inaudible 00:33:17] emails that have a goal of converting the customer, either for their first time or for their second time. In those emails is an amazing journey of storytelling. UGC reps, bringing customer reviews to life, calls to action, refer a friend. I mean, it’s jam-packed with colors and artisans and charity information. It just really, really brings the customer into that journey. And I think that’s what’s allowed us to have such a strong retention rate, and also such a strong reason for customers to come back and buy a second time.

  • Jay

    After the new customer sequence, is there a routine, sort of a newsletter update that all customers get ex post facto, so down the road?

  • Griffin

    Yeah. Basically, every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday our customers receive one of our bulk sends. In those is new product updates, price drops, social events that we have, whether it’s an in-person event or an Instagram takeover or fresh blog content of what our bloggers are baking in their kitchen or DIY little yarn thing that they’re making in their room. I mean, it’s so much cool stuff. All that stuff, we also put on Pinterest, and to expand the reach.

  • I mean, it’s really cool what we do on the email side. I feel like it’s a way for our designers to kind of have fun with the brand. It’s not just about that super-crisp photo. It’s about watercolors. A lot of our fonts are hand drawn. All the artwork, I watch them draw right in front of me. It’s really cool what we’re doing on the design side. It’s very different and unique than most brands do.

  • Adam

    I tell you, Griffin. I listen to your story, look at your website and the research we’ve done to have you on the show today. One of the things that Jay and I oftentimes talk about on this show is authenticity and genuineness, and how important that is, I think especially for people in your target audience. These are not the types of things that you can fake, Jay. I mean, these are the types of stories that you’ve got to tell, that are genuine, that are authentic. It can’t be staged. It sounds like, Griffin, you and your organization has found the right kind of balance of that.

  • Griffin

    Thank you. I appreciate that.

  • Jay

    What’s interesting about the products, too, at Pura Vida is that, if you’re selling air conditioners, right, even if you’re super-authentic and awesome at it, and even if you use air conditioning influencers, which seems like a small group of people, you’re not likely to buy another one. Right? Because what are you going to do with it?

  • What’s awesome about how this company is set up, it’s like, “Okay, you got five bracelets? Great. You need 50 bracelets. Right? You need one for every day, every circumstance. You need to wear them many at a time.” The whole premise lends itself to continuous purchases and a feeling of a community and a club, which is really executed. I think it’s handy to have that kind of product, right, where it’s like, “Well, you’re never going to not need more.”

  • And the way you guys come out with a new product all the time, and new collections and seasons and all that, is really smart. You sort of get people sucked into the tractor beam, and then they, not only can they not escape, they don’t want to escape, which is brilliant.

  • Griffin

    Yeah. I mean, I think for us it’s constantly coming out with new products, innovating, being on trend if the seasons change. You know, jump on the festival vibe, then the summer vibe, then the back to school vibe, and then the fall vibe. And then now we’re into winter, and then it’s promotion heavy and Black Friday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. And then New Year, start the year fresh.

  • I mean, there’s all this stuff that is pretty natural in terms of marketing, but how do you jump on those things without sounding like you’re just using the theme or the season for a new sale, but actually create products around that and work with influencers that are engaged and can do the storytelling and travel and put Pura Vida in their backpack, and bring the rings and swim underwater with dolphins, then we have a save the dolphins bracelet. I mean, it all just kind of blends together.

  • Adam

    Hey, Griffin, that brings me to my last question. It’s not only having new products in your particular categories, but looking at different categories. And I look at organizations like Tom’s Shoes, that started with shoes, and of course now they’re into eyewear and all these other brand extensions. You started with bracelets, now you have rings. I mean, you are truly creating a lifestyle branch here. Without asking you anything out of turn, where is this going in terms of the brand? Is that something that you’re considering? Do you look at that enthusiasm with your consumers for your bracelets and rings, and perhaps might what come next?

  • Griffin

    Yeah. I mean, I think for us, we really haven’t even reached end cap with the bracelets. Rings and jewelry has been our biggest product extension to date. We grew over 300 percent just in the ring category, from 2018 to 2017. So I think 2019 it’s even going to double again, just in the ring category alone. So I feel that we could be so much more innovative in jewelry that we don’t even need to distract our whole production team and design team, to try to jump loops through each new product extension.

  • You know what I mean? You could feel like, “Oh, the brand’s growing. Let’s put our name on anything,” but I think for us, we really want to stick to jewelry and accessories right now. We’ve found a lot of success. We want to be consistent with our messaging, our storytelling, and just kind of bring off a Pura Vida vibe strictly through jewelry and accessories, for right now.

  • Adam

    Great.

  • Jay

    I can’t wait to see what you come up with next. Congratulations on all the success, and all the great work that you’re doing for nonprofits as well. Griffin Thall, who’s the co-founder and CEO of Pura Vida, joins us this week on Social Pros. And Griffin, we’re going to close it out asking the two questions that we ask every single guest on this show. Now, I think this is episode 365, if I recall correctly, because… Yeah, I think that’s right.

  • Griffin, first thing. If you wanted to become a social pro, or somebody wanted to become a social pro, what one tip would you give them?

  • Griffin

    I would say focus on quality over quantity. I would say focus on consistent messaging and branding. Really understand photography and how to use Lightroom and the different presets it offers. I would really study what other brands are doing, and take a couple pointers from each of them. Don’t just try to do what another brand’s doing, because the second that an algorithm changes, you’re kind of left in the dust.

  • I think it’s about being unique and creative. And just because Instagram’s been around for X amount of years doesn’t mean you should be scared to jump on the platform and compete against a bigger brand. I see new brands come up every day, and I’m still blown away by what they’re doing, and “I wish I’d thought of that, blah-blah-blah.” So I would say, focus on something, put your head down and just get to work, and don’t be scared to just follow your dreams.

  • Jay

    That’s great advice. Thank you. I love the focus on photography, too, and using Lightroom and similar tools to achieve that consistent vibe, which you guys certainly do really well, as I mentioned earlier. Last question for Griffin Thall at Pura Vida is, if you could do a video call with any living person, who would it be?

  • Griffin

    I don’t know. I would say probably a mix between Zuckerberg, I think I’ve always been admirable of him, since day one. It’s because of Facebook and Instagram that we’re here, so I would love to meet the guy and chat with him. I also think there’s a guy that I listen to his podcasts, Andy Frisella from MFCEO. I think he’s a great guy. I think he speaks in wise words. And every time I put on his podcast, it fires me up to work harder. So, [inaudible 00:40:32] I think those guys are some good mentors and leaders, and what Pura Vida has going on.

  • Jay

    Awesome. We’ll link up Andy’s podcast on socialpros.com as well, so listeners can find it. Don’t forget, all of our shows since the very beginning are at socialpros.com, transcripts, audio, links, the whole thing. Don’t forget to check that out, if you get a chance.

  • Griffin, thank you very much for being here. Fantastic stuff. I know a lot of our audience is going to rush out to your Instagram, as they should, and use that as an interesting sounding board for ideas, and obviously puravidabracelets.com as well.

  • Adam, another great episode coming up next week. Until then, one more reminder, go to socialpros.com. If you haven’t had a chance to rate or review the show, we’d love for you to do that. As Griffin mentioned, really important. We’d love that. And, I think that’s it. We are back again next week. Adam’s here. Or, no. I mean, maybe you’re not here next week, Adam, because, ladies and gentlemen, probably by the time you hear this, this will have passed, but when we record this, Adam is getting married in just a few days. So, congratulations to-

  • Adam

    Thank you.

  • Jay

    Mister Brown. I think you will be back, because by the time we record this you’ll be back. But congratulations, and to all listeners, give Adam your best wishes as well.

  • Adam

    Thank you. I appreciate you.

  • Jay

    Yeah, you bet. All right, this has been hopefully your favorite podcast in the whole world. Hopefully, we inspire you the way Andy inspires Griffin with his podcast. We’ll catch you next time. This has been Social Pros. I’m Jay Baer, founder of Convince and Convert. He is Adam Brown, executive strategist for Salesforce Marketing Cloud. And we will see you next time.

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