If you are a sneaker aficionado, you are probably well aware of Nike's fantastic, online, social-only commerce routine. You might even have signed up for Twitter alerts from @NikeStore so that you never miss a special sale. And as a geek and a self-proclaimed sneakerhead (defined here: NYTimes here and here, FiveThirtyEight here)... Nike's Twitter usage is among the best examples of social commerce and part of my shopping habit (I actually have Twitter iOS notifications turned on for @NikeStore). And if you're not a sneaker fan, you should find Nike's tactics interesting in the same way that some brands have mastered Pinterest, blogging, etc. Nike has created an experience and specialness around their routines... and in the process, amassed a social following, engaged their highest value buyers / fans, and proved that social + commerce can indeed work.
Here's how it works and what makes Nike special:
1. Nike has a slew of special content and one-time sales (ie a sneaker Pop Up shop). These are often one-time colorways and styles of a certain sneaker. But Nike will also release special products tied to current events (like an Oregon football game) and so forth.
2. Nike shares these product launches via an online release schedule and then tweets each specific sale in the days leading up to the sale. The product preview page includes a "Launch Tips" section which encourages fans to follow @NikeStore and pre-register for the sale so as to expedite the purchase process (inventory is hotly contested):
— Nike.com (@nikestore) November 22, 2014
— Nike.com (@nikestore) November 21, 2014
3. Nike amplifies those tweets with other Twitter handles (ie running-related products are also shared via Nike's running handles).
4. product launches happen at pre-announced, defined times (usually 8am EST).
5. At 8am EST, @NikeStore tweets a special URL for the sale. Many of those releases are only available via Twitter - what Nike calls "Twitter Link Only (TLO)". Meaning, users have to follow @NikeStore to purchase the products.
6. The tweets arrive promptly at 8am EST and always have great visuals and a short, swoo.sh URL, like so:
— Nike.com (@nikestore) December 6, 2013
7. The shoes sell out within in minutes... sometimes seconds. The speed is pretty remarkable actually... again, encouraging followers to turn @NikeStore alerts on and to create their NikeStore.com account (with credit card on file of course).
8. The web purchase flow - on mobile and big-screen - is equally good looking: big visuals, social sharing tools, and focus on urgency.
A couple other examples to highlight:
1. Nike had Christmas-day sales that coincided with the special shoes worn by its players (like Lebron James) that day. It was a Twitter-only sale.
Here is the pre-sale post... whetting the appetite:
— Nike.com (@nikestore) December 22, 2013
And then the sale announcement:
— Nike.com (@nikestore) December 26, 2013
Lebron then shared with his followers and posted an Instagram picture of his new shoes.
2. Nike does something similar during big sporting events. For instance, Nike now sells NFL jerseys and merchandise and during big, nationally televised games - they share related (and sometimes special) products via Twitter:
— Nike.com (@nikestore) December 13, 2013
— Nike.com (@nikestore) December 10, 2013
— Nike.com (@nikestore) December 3, 2013
And lastly, my favorite screenshot: Nike's Launch Tips - which are included with pre-sale products.... again: encouraging users to follow Nike and not miss an opportunity: