Social Media Case Study: Paul Frank
In January 2011, international lifestyle brand Paul Frank hired Lisa Peyton and Bonfire to manage its community and bolster its U.S. fan base. Through strategic content development and partnerships with compatible brands, Bonfire increased Facebook fans by 42% and Twitter followers almost 23,000%.
This growth placed Paul Frank in a position more reflective of its international popularity. The U.S. base continues to expand, and the Facebook page is well on its way to 1 million fans. 15 months later, Bonfire continues to manage the diverse community.
Company: Paul Frank
Social Media Team: Danielle Hoole, Lisa Peyton
Campaign Length: One year, January 2011-December 2011
Paul Frank began in a California garage in the 1990s, where wallets adorned with a monkey named Julius were sewn made from Naugahyde, a vinyl that is more commonly associated with mid-century automobile seats. Almost instantly the brand gained a committed fan base. SoCal surfers and skaters latched on to Julius, purchasing Paul Frank gear and blazoning Julius’s face across their boards and backpacks. Popularity surged, and the fan base diversified. By 2010 it included hipsters, techies, extreme sports fanatics, and a burgeoning number of international loyalists. Moms and teenagers alike banded behind the brand. Within a decade, Paul Frank had grown from a backyard business into an internationally recognized company.
The Paul Frank marketing department wanted to appeal to a varied client base while highlighting the true identity and spirit of the brand. The company wanted to appeal to a new demographic fan base while retaining the first fans it was founded upon. In 2011, Paul Frank hired Bonfire to build and strengthen its brand through social media. Bonfire set out to increase both fans and fan engagement through appealing content and organic means.
Though Paul Frank had an existing Facebook page, its numbers didn’t reflect the company’s popularity, and it wasn’t consistent in efforts to engage its audience. Bonfire immediately developed a trial and error strategy to determine what content resonated with the page’s wide range of fans. The popularity of each post was measured. After tweaking even minute details, analyzing the effect, and testing again, Bonfire eventually amassed a strong collection of posts that would engage and appeal to everyone. “Who is Julius” caricatures of celebrities attracted American fans, while “Where is Julius” images of global landmarks expressed gratitude to international followers. Intermixed in all of this were puzzles and games that reflected the light-hearted, comedic spirit of Paul Frank.
Additionally, Bonfire used Facebook to partner with other marketing endeavors. From promoting stops along the Paul Frank Academy of Awesome Tour to creating numerous contests giveaways, the content of the Paul Frank page rewarded its fans with prizes and real time updates. Fan engagement began to increase exponentially, and more people began to express their love of Paul Frank through its page.
Bonfire decided to employ the Paul Frank Twitter handle as a tool primarily to connect more closely with fans. By following people who mentioned the brand and responding to their compliments, questions, and concerns, the handle became a personable face of the company. Strategic tagging of celebrities led to prominent retweets, amassing even more followers and building a stronger community. Through Twitter, Paul Frank could wish followers happy birthday, retweet photos of fans in their gear, and send short uplifting messages—all of which served as expressions of gratitude for its faithful fans.
In addition to the organic growth of the page, Bonfire regularly implemented ad campaigns specifically targeted to help grow the United States fan base. With clear imagery and a call to action, these ads targeted fans of brands, likes, interests, and celebrities that the Paul Frank fan base would identify with. Using a variety of advertising campaigns and a relatively low advertising spend, Bonfire grew the overall fan base.
After twelve months, Paul Frank had reached millions of people through social media. With tested content and a consistent message that appealed to all demographics, Bonfire helped strengthen the Paul Frank brand without compromising its original identity. Primarily through Recommended pages, Facebook fans increased over 42%, and Twitter followers grew 22,966%.