US fashion retailer Everlane has over 250,000 followers on its main Instagram account. 

It’s second, @EverlaneStudio, has just short of 6,000.

While you might assume the latter is merely a social media fail, in actual fact, this limited number of followers is part of a deliberate strategy.

How does it work?

Everlane Studio is a private account that accepts just 100 followers each day.

It offers exclusive online content and early access to new releases, allowing customers to get their hands on items before anyone else.

Alongside this, the brand uses the platform to gauge consumer responses, testing out new products and using the feedback to determine future decisions.

What’s the aim?

When followers are accepted into Everlane Studio, they will feel like they are part of an exclusive club or ‘inner circle’ of sorts.

By creating bespoke content that is unique to that platform, the brand also promotes a customer-centric image. 

In doing so, it suggests that it cares about the people that buys its products, but more than that, it implies it cares above and beyond any other brand or rival retailer.

The hope is that this will deepen the emotional response of the consumer and ultimately strengthen their loyalty. 

Why Instagram?

Instagram is a platform that thrives on exclusivity. 

Whether people are putting a filter on a Fendi bag or a five-star hotel view, the platform is commonly used as a place for people to show off their wares. 

Everlane has clearly decided to capitalise on this trend, using the private function of its second account to ramp up its elite feel.

What’s more, Instagram is one of the few platforms where consumer feedback can very easily be gauged.

Although brands like NARS have previously used Snapchat to give fans a sneak peek of new products, with the fast-moving nature of Snapchat, it’s not as easy to gain an overview of the conversation.  

Using Instagram to create a community, and by allowing its user-base the opportunity to voice their opinions and even impact decisions, Everlane ensure customers feel even greater loyalty to the brand.

Could it put off new customers?

While EverlaneStudio is a great way to connect with loyal fans, the danger of putting new customers off might be its biggest drawback. 

As we’ve seen from the likes of Amazon Prime Day, events geared around membership or some sort of exclusivity have the potential to make new customers feel shut out or like they’re not valued.

Luckily, Everlane seem to recognise this fact, using its other social media platforms to cleverly counteract the danger.

By giving Snapchat and Twitter just as much focus as Instagram, Everlane does go some way to ensure that each platform has enough unique content to engage all potential customers.

What can other brands learn?

Everlane is not the only company to set up more than one Instagram. 

With an account specifically dedicated to showcasing shoe launches, NikeLab is another example of a brand using a single social media platform for multiple purposes.

Again, while the private function could alienate new or one-off customers, it’s certainly a good example of a brand putting the long-term loyalty of the customer before short-term gain.

Building on the success and community-aspect of its original Instagram, Everlane is certainly thinking innovatively about its social media strategy.

More on Instagram and retail:

Nikki Gilliland

Published 28 July, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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