Warby Parker's Grand Vision: Innovating Eyewear Through Social Media The eyewear company's co-founder discusses embracing social media and digital tools to enhance customers' experiences and engagement.

By Shira Lazar

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Warby Parkers Grand Vision: Innovating Eyewear Through Social Media

Launched in 2010 by four friends, eyewear company Warby Parker is hard to miss. On top of a well-priced, high-style product and a social good "buy a pair, give a pair" initiative, the company draws attention with its fun yet sophisticated web presence.

"We're a fashion company whose core focus is creating beautifully designed eyewear, but we're a technology-enabled brand that uses technology whenever possible to enhance our customers' experiences," says co-founder Neil Blumenthal. He shared his thoughts on how digital tools have helped the Warby Parker vision and brand.

How do you take advantage of digital tools for an eyewear company?
We allow customers to post images of themselves wearing our eyewear on our Facebook page so that they can receive feedback on which frames look best on their face. Buying glasses is such an intimate purchase that many people want feedback from others.

We also recognize the limits of technology. For example, we tested virtual try-on technology and found it to be good, but not great. Until facial recognition and try-on technology improves, we personally want to try on the glasses before buying. So we designed our home try-on program.

Related: How Entrepreneurs with Social Vision Secured Venture Capital

How have you leveraged the different social networks to increase a connection with your customers?
We opened up our Facebook wall, allowing anyone to post, and then engaged with everyone that posted. Likewise, on Twitter, we answer customers' questions and share details on what we're doing, how and why.

We use Tumblr and Pinterest primarily for brand awareness. On both platforms, we post about things that inspire us and things that represent our brand's personality, instead of bombarding customers with sales promotions.

How do you translate engagement into sales?
We find that engagement fosters virality and builds loyalty. Our customers are telling their friends about us and it's driving our growth. Over 50% of our sales are driven by word of mouth.

What inspired the launch of your latest campaign, Warby Barker, featuring specs for dogs?
We love dogs and know that a lot of our customers do. Our customers are constantly sending us photos of their dogs wearing our glasses. And when we put together our 2011 annual report, we noticed that "Warby Barker" was one of our ten most misspelled keyword searches. Our head of customer insights came up with the idea of launching Warby Barker for April Fools' Day.

What advice do have for other brands on how to maximize engagement and sales via social media?
Adding virality to an existing product or service is very difficult. It's best to design a product or service with virality in mind. Make them unexpected, easy to understand and easy to share, both from a story-telling perspective and from the ease of actually physically or digitally sharing.

How do you use social media to increase engagement and sales? Let us know in the comments below.

Related: Still Stumped by Social Media? Google Wants to Help Figure Out What's Working

Shira Lazar is the host and executive producer of What's Trending live Tuesdays at 10 a.m. Pacific and Partners Project, interviewing your favorite YouTube stars weekly.

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