With society’s mounting cynicism and digital savvy, the challenge for a brand to connect with young users has never been more onerous. Blatant appeals for sign ups are swiftly deleted and advertisements embedded with cliched cultural commentary are met with rolled eyes and ridicule.
As targeted audiences are more acute now than ever before to the marketing tactics imposed on them by big businesses, a brand’s voice needs to be smart, but not exclusionary, funny, but self aware and relatable, but not overstated.
And while this seems like a near futile feat, Poshmark has achieved it with seemingly relative ease. The fashion e-commerce platform is still quite young, founded only six years ago in 2011, but is already thriving.
With its slew of celebrity investors, active social influencers and near flawless brand voice, Poshmark has enjoyed remarkable growth in such a short time. Joanna Riedl, Poshmark’s Senior Director of Public Relations sat down with TechDay to reveal some of the company's secrets to “creating [this] highly addictive social commerce experience.”
Poshmark's online voice, particularly in regards to social, is one that feels very reminiscent to the tone friends of ours utilize on their personal accounts. How does this quirky, colloquial and fun voice help brand Poshmark as a whole?
Poshmark takes a creative, relatable approach to marketing that helps the company with organic growth, while also maintaining a strong relationship between our brand and customers, many of whom are internet-obsessed shoppers.
For example, we find that our community of millions of women love the twice daily push notifications we send so much that they end up taking a screenshot and posting to their social media profiles on Instagram and Twitter saying things like, "Poshmark gets me." We see up to 35-50 tweets a day reposting an image of our push notifications and a flurry of social media activity happens when they go out.
The top performing shared content is usually either simple and empowering like "Remember to smile," "Accept yourself and that will be enough" and "You do you, boo", or something super funny like "When your mascara is $38 there's no time for crying," "Our favorite type of men? Ramen" and "When you nod your head yes, but your wallet says no...What do you mean?" and is always on brand with the Poshmark voice.
The content is not about us, it's about them - we aim for each push notification to feel like a text from a friend who deeply understands them. It's relatable and current, which is why the community shares it.
Poshmark is a social platform that is built for connection. From the early days, we were conscious of building a brand that empowered our community of buyers and sellers, connecting with them in a very authentic and accessible way. It’s important to us that they see themselves inside of the Poshmark brand, participating in fashion in a fun and inclusive way.
We are able to differentiate ourselves in the sea of content that our community sees every day by using the voice that came most naturally to us: Poshmark as your BFF.
Today, creative social and marketing content has become a cornerstone of the Poshmark voice. When we started seeing our community promoting the fun push notifications to their social networks, we began paying more attention to things like retweets. Now we use the retweet cycle as an additional data point; we’re able to see which push messages are resonating with our community, take that as feedback and continue to create similar content.
A myriad of social influencers seem to be avid fans and users of the Poshmark platform. How is their celebrity utilized in advertising and overall promotion of the site?
Since Poshmark is very social in nature, influencers have been a huge part of the Poshmark community from the very beginning. Fashion bloggers and celebrities have such amazing wardrobes and the need to create a revolving closet, it makes sense that they would flock to a platform like Poshmark where they can connect and share their personal style with their fans by allowing them to shop their closets! We’ve taken a very organic approach to nurturing relationships with influencers and decided early on that we would only promote those who were authentically using the Poshmark platform to sell their style.
In the early years, we would throw live Posh Parties in different cities around the country where the local community would come together to mix and mingle and shop from each other. We would invite fashion influencers to host the events as a fun way for them to connect with their fans and help organically spread the word about Poshmark. We also have virtual Posh Parties every day in the app around different themes which also provide influencers a great opportunity to promote themselves to millions inside the Poshmark platform.
The cool thing about Poshmark is that anyone can build a significant following from scratch and become an influential Seller Stylist with millions of followers on the platform by creating beautiful listings and curating items from others. We’re actually back on the road again right now with a national tour called #PoshNation, empowering our community to connect with influential Seller Stylists in person in their own cities.
Poshmark also boasts an impressive rolodex of A-list celebrity investors. What's the thinking behind keeping this somewhat covert, rather than having these individuals be "faces" of the brand?
It has always been very important that we build and nurture an engaged community that is going to stick around. We aren’t interested in quick hits leveraging influencers or celebrities to bolster our brand. The faces of the Poshmark community are our brand, the millions of women and men from all over the country who are obsessed with the app; the people who are turning their love of fashion into six figure businesses, or getting out of student debt by turning their clothes into cash.
We are lucky to have amazing investors such as Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary of A-Grade Investments, and celebrity stylist and fashion designer Rachel Zoe who participate with the brand only where it makes sense. For example, after we expanded into the men’s category at the end of last year, Ashton Kutcher launched his closet on Poshmark which sold out in seconds. He genuinely wanted to connect with the Poshmark community, sell items from his closet for charity and partner with a few of his favorite brands. You can catch a recent Facebook Live he did around it here.
Are there particular communities or organizations Poshmark deeply engages with that function to shape and foster Poshmark's values?
At Poshmark we support fashion entrepreneurs as they grow their businesses on the platform. We think of ourselves as empowering the next generation of retailers. We’ve seen everyone from students to moms turn their love of fashion and knack for selling into thriving boutiques - with top sellers bringing in over $500,000 in sales.
Last year we introduced the Fashion Entrepreneurs Fund where we gave out 50 grants to budding Seller Stylists who wanted to level up their businesses.
Poshmark’s founders are also very active mentors in both the fashion and tech industry, helping to nurture the next crop of leaders who are on the rise.
What primary marketing tactics were utilized when the site first began and how have these evolved as the brand has become a household name? What growing pains were associated with this shift?
When we launched in 2011, we were not just mobile-first, we were mobile only and continued focusing on our app for the first few years, eventually debuting a website. At the time building an end to end commerce platform strictly on the phone was considered bold and innovative while today it may feel like a no-brainer. Our founder and CEO Manish Chandra had the foresight to see where consumers were going and that gave us a huge leg up when everyone was shifting their strategies to mobile. As a result, 90% of Poshmark sales are generated via mobile and the average Posher spends 25 minutes in the app, opening it 7-8 times daily - a level of engagement that is unheard of in e-commerce.
We’ve always put our people first, highlighting their success in marketing and PR to inspire others like them to follow in their footsteps. We’ve helped Poshmark community members tell their stories in over 150 local TV segments, reaching every nook and cranny of the country.
Additionally, Poshmark put a strong emphasis on building offline connections with our community from the very beginning, hosting live Posh Parties which then evolved into the virtual Posh Parties that now happen four times a day in the app. With such a strong emphasis on social and community, one in 50 women in the U.S. are currently selling on the app, creating a highly addictive social commerce experience that is reimagining how fashion is bought and sold today.
What innovations and updates can we expect to see from Poshmark in the near future?
Last year we introduced new ways for Poshmark Seller Stylists to grow their businesses with the expansion into retail (we launched an in-app Wholesale Marketplace), and the launch of kids’ and men’s categories. We’ll be continuing to innovate in those three areas as well as empowering Seller Stylists to connect with their customers in more creative ways through some exciting new social features.