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Threadless successfully Using Social Media

by on June 15, 2010

Many companies in North America are using social media in order to create brand awareness and generate word of mouth (WOM). Social Networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, YouTube and LinkedIn are used as well crowsourcing.

In this post, I would like to talk how the company Threadless is successfully using social media tools in innovative ways. Threadless, was founded by Jack Nickell and Jacob DeHart; they started the company with only $1,000. Since it was founded the company has grown quickly.

Why the success? Crowdsourcing is the answer.

Crowdsourcing:  The act of taking a job traditionally performed by an internal agent and outsourcing it to a group of people.  Presenting a task to the outside world without knowing what will result. Crowdsourcing consistently produces outputs that could not be created by organizations.

Threadless t-shirts have no corporate designers. This is the way it works: Every week about 700 participants create their T-shirt designs which are displayed on the website. Then the online community can vote for their favorite design, and out of all the competitors only six get to be printed as T-shirts. $2,000 awards are given for the winners.

You might ask, but what does Threadless get out of it? That’s easy: since users are all connected to the process by voting on their favorite designers, when the T-shirts are printed they are the first ones to purchase them.

However, before you start thinking that you are ready to create a business using crowds you better think twice because in order to succeed you need to show to the crowd that that you care, and will keep them engaged.

Threadless has being doing a great job in that sense. Visitors keep coming back to the website because Threadless gives users incentives to return. For example, if the user uploads a picture of himself using a Threadless T-shirt he will receive store credits, and if the user also refers the site to a friend and his friend buys a shirt this provides even more store credit.

On the Threadless website visitors are encouraged to write posts, comments and interact with the community.

Curious about their store? Check it out on the website

By the way if you end up buying a T-shirt don`t forget to say that I referred you– this way I can gain store credit!


From → USA

One Comment
  1. Great choice on using Threadless, I am also a big fan of their business model and how they use social media. You give a great overview of why you chose the site and how it works. The video adds excellent context as well. What would make this stronger is adding more context around what specific things you think Threadless does that might be duplicated by other organizations. In other words, what more can we learn from Threadless that might apply to our own situations. Could crowdsourcing work for any brand, or is this only for a brand like Threadless? (3) + (1 for first posting!)

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