In late 2019, I began to follow a few notable text-based meme accounts on Instagram and Twitter—think Overheard SF and We’re Not Really Strangers, among many others. The premise of these accounts was fairly straightforward: humor and daily life, paired with clean imagery and captions. They would reel thousands of followers in and then give them a phone number to text with the promise of exclusive niche content. Once opted in, subscribers were rewarded with weekly texts full of thoughtfully curated and personalized ideas—and the meme accounts were rewarded with a new way of sharing their content with more than 10 percent of their active following.
With this creative approach to an otherwise mundane form of communication, these non-consumer-centric brands managed to build a platform filled with interest, value, and strong leads—all while avoiding the spam folder’s disdain for brevity and the sporadic blank-percent-off texts of their direct-to-consumer counterparts. It inspires a sense of revitalization around any direct-to-consumer strategy that includes text-based outreach—specifically, best practices for transforming it into a channel for lively and proactive community management.
Below are a few examples of how brands like The Nudge, Overheard SF, We’re Not Really Strangers, and more are proactively using text-based community management—along with learnings that you can incorporate into your own social strategy.
The Nudge curates weekly plans and exclusive deals for local subscribers in major cities across the United States based on their shared interests. Initial text chats will often start with a general overview for a planned outing and a link to their app, which contains more detailed, travel blog-style content that followers can replicate at their convenience. From this, we learn that consumers do find value in content that is not a sale or coupon code. In this case, repurposing blog content into something more exciting and easily consumable.
Across social channels, Overheard documents quirky, everyday conversations amongst denizens of major metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. Their text communications are very different from their social channels, however, in that they share horoscopes—and a link to their site—at the top of every month. The site then directs users to a submission form for future social posts, a newsletter, and a store full of standard branded merchandise.
From this, we learn that brands should feel empowered to move away from leaving no-reply enabled messaging and fully embrace what consumers are interested in— like horoscopes and an open forum for feedback and conversation.
We’re Not Really Strangers
What started out as an account sharing daily #relatable emotional quotes and images via text and social media has since transformed itself into a physical card game encouraging vulnerability among friends, lovers, and family. From this, we learn that fan reactions to social content can shape consumer offerings, in addition to being a valid way of engaging with potential consumers of a product long before it’s even released. This does require your social team to dig deep into your target consumers for your brand to engage in ways that go beyond offering the occasional coupon code.
In short, niche meme accounts hold the key to bringing text-based communication strategy beyond one-sided blasts—and elevating the channel into another valuable avenue for fruitful community management. By focusing on the ways in which brands can provide value for followers and consumers who consistently engage, you build a guaranteed and active bank of leads for future activations that advance your bottom line.