Gap Inc.’s Rachel Tipograph Talks Lo-Fi Customer Engagement

The global director, digital & social media at Gap Inc. digital media, told attendees to forget the “one size fits all” approach.

When it comes to digital media, forget the “one size fits all” approach.

This story first appeared in the October 9, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Rachel Tipograph, global director, digital & social media at Gap Inc., who spoke on “Lo-Fi Brand Marketing,” told attendees that approach doesn’t work anymore.

“Multiple touches with consumers are what drives engagement,” she said.

Tipograph spoke about how consumer behavior has changed, and that pre-2011 the social Web was about what someone thought or was doing. Post-2011, the social Web is now about “visualizing how you want the world to see you and how you want to see the world.”

That has Gap spending a lot of time thinking about content, which it views as the “currency to the mobile social Web.”

Gap’s digital expert also noted that the shelf life at different sites is relatively short — just two hours on Twitter, two days on Vine and seven hours on Facebook. Shelf life is longer on YouTube at five days, and one week on Pinterest. At Tumblr, it’s forever, Tipograph said.

All that means a different approach is required for outreach on each format, hence the conclusion that the “one size fits all” approach no longer applies in advertising.

Tipograph noted that the company has shifted from traditional advertising, or what is called hi-fi, that is expensive to produce but is used for all channels, to one where it creates multiple forms of content used for individual networks, called lo-fi.

“Lo-fi is content designed for individual networks. Most of the time it is created via an iPhone,” she said.

As for customer engagement, Tipograph noted, “Our lo-fi content is 70 percent better in the social channels than our hi-fi engagement.”

But how do you monetize lo-fi content?

Gap in June launched Styld.by, where each week bloggers at different sites are sent Gap’s best product and told to style and photograph the product in any way they want. The only requirement is a job script code to create, in effect, an online catalogue. Tipograph said the company saw a 40 percent increase in Gap’s association with fashion and style and, even better, strong conversion rates from that content. In-store Styld.by events drove traffic up 24 percent, and there was a 15 percent lift in the conversion rate.

In creating content and noting that the shelf life is very short, often multiple pieces of content are produced. That’s so different visuals can be used for each network for different regions. A campaign may entail 250 pieces of content, with up to 30 pieces flowing each week over a three-month period.

Campaigns also are done with leveraging in mind, such as an advertising campaign on television that also includes a social media carryover on Twitter. In that example, Twitter is treated like a “phantom network.”