How Kris Jenner helped Staples earn 200 million impressions

A single tweet about the reality star helped the retailer gain media attention

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 11.55.59 AMEvery morning the four-person communications team at Staples Canada meets to talk about the day’s trending topics; a popular tactic among both marketers and PR agencies.

On June 30, a familiar name came up: Kardashian. More specifically, the matriarch of the celebrity family, Kris, who was in the news because she had launched a new jewelry line. Ordinarily, this kind of Us Weekly fodder would be of little concern to Staples, but the communications team spotted a handful of news stories and comments on social media that made an interesting observation: one of Jenner’s necklaces looked like it was made of paper clips.

That, the team decided, they could do something with. They set out brainstorming jokes about the paper clip necklace and settled on short, simple copy written by the brand’s social media manager, Michelle Janzso. Quoting one of Jenner’s tweets with a photo of the necklace, Staples Canada tweeted, “Also available in aisle 7….

The tweet picked up traction right away, with an initial engagement rate of 10%. (On average, just 0.035% of a brand’s following interacts with any given tweet, according to Forrester.) But, later that night, it really took off. At 8:30 pm, the post had about 2,000 retweets. Twenty minutes later, it had spread like wildfire, pulling in another 10,000. Less than a week later, it now has 67,000 retweets and 70,000 likes. The tweet is by far Staples Canada’s most popular social post to date. In total, it has earned 5.5 million impressions on Twitter and helped grow the brand’s Twitter following by 2% to more than 32, 000.

The PR pickup has been an added benefit. The tweet was covered by the traditional media and landed the brand mentions everywhere from Time to USA Today, ET Online and Mashable. According to the company, the tweet led to 200 million media impressions. By comparison, the retailer’s weeks-long back-to-school campaign each year creates, on average, 150 million media impressions.

The brand put a small media spend behind the tweet once it saw the pickup it was getting, but in total Janzso said just 3% of the impressions were paid.

Alessandra Saccal, head of communications at Staples Canada, said the tweet also helped the brand connect with a young audience; one of its key goals as it heads into the important back-to-school season.

About 30% of the brand’s audience on Twitter is 24-years-old or younger. With this tweet, 96% of the engagement came from consumers in that age bracket.

Typically, Staples Canada doesn’t snark on Twitter. In terms of jokes made about the Kardashian clan, this one was harmless, but it did represent a step outside the brand’s comfort zone.

“We took a risk. It’s not usually typical to our brand, but the risk paid off,” Saccal said. “It really resonated, and it was relevant to our business, so it made sense to us. It was a risk we were willing to take.”

Saccal said she saw the tweet as an exercise in brand building and driving engagement, rather than a direct line to sales, but as her team pulls reports, they are looking into whether it had an impact on the bottom line. (At the time of publishing, Staples Canada did not have ROI stats related to the tweet.)

“We put the ask out for additional metrics, knowing the intention of the tweet really was more about brand building and engagement… but we’re still waiting to hear if there was [a business] impact,” said Saccal.

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