Come. Sit. Stay. You’re going to enjoy this one.
I’m a contributor to the blog at ClearVoice and among the features I write there is a series called “Branding Ovation,” where articles applaud some of the best content marketers and showcase their work. This post is about Earth Rated, their user generated content, and the many cool things they do to build a community of engaged customers.
Earth Rated is barking up the right tree
See, while most content marketing teams settle for getting fans and readers, Earth Rated aims for fostering true engagement.
Now get this: Earth Rated makes biodegradable dog poop bags. It’s hardly a sexy topic to create content about. But the company understands as much and instead, appeals to its customers’ deep love of their canine buddies with crazy cool content. And an amazing amount of it is user-generated.
Earth Rated excavates social spaces
I got the company’s founder, Divyan Selvadurai, to talk to me about many of their past and ongoing content marketing strategies.
“We don’t really look to push our products through our blogs. It’s a lifestyle blog,” Divyan said. “We publish anything that’s helpful to anybody who owns a dog. So our strategy here is to just build traffic and gain a following. Our hope is over time, they’ll have a good association with our brand.”
In order to understand the needs of their audience, Earth Rated does “social media excavation” to learn more about who they are. Divyan told me Earth Rated pays close attention to its customers’ social media feeds, digging deep to figure out what the fans care about.
“We do a lot of testing to see what they respond to and we create content based on that,” he said. “We track the analytics to determine what people are sharing the most, reading the most, talking about and engaging with.” He says from there the content continuously evolves.
Focused on building community
Earth Rated is extremely active in canine communities all across North America. “We feel it is very important to give back as our company is growing and it’s something that kind of runs through our culture within the company,” he told me.
A lot of Earth Rated employees work at animal shelters. “It started off by simply asking our fans what kind of roles the shelters play in their lives. They connected us with some of the great shelters and the great works of certain people, individuals they’ve come across in their lives.”
These conversations prompted Earth Rated to get in touch with many shelters and develop an ongoing dialogue. In doing so, the company figured out what kind of events they like and what they can do to help out with their causes.
“We’re all about getting our customers to really connect with us. It keeps everybody happy when we’re doing something great and showcasing that part of us.”
Earth Rated donates product to a huge number of animal shelters. In fact, they’ve created “Share For Shelters,” where they ask fans to share their stories from shelters.
Meet Austin, the death pitty (or pit bull), an Earth Rated friend from “I’m Not a Monster,” an organization aiming to dispel the myths of certain dog breeds know to be aggressive.
Super social animals
You might call the people of Earth Rated super social puppies. They have more than120,000 Facebook likes and are also very active on Instagram and Pinterest.
“We’re always listening and taking into account what our customers say and do on social media,” Divyan said. “That’s how we evolve our product.”
“Last year, people told us they were going out and couldn’t open the bags when it was cold outside. They’d have to take their gloves off and their hands would get cold. We saw this as a cool and fun opportunity. We created winter gloves with grips on them and developed a marketing campaign with it. We asked people to give us their story and we’d mail them a pair of the gloves.”
Earth Rated’s “Frost Fingers” program helped dog owners from freezing their fingers.
A scarf promotion came to be when Earth Rated realized how many of their social media friends want to be fashionable with their poop bag dispensers. “Customers were posting pictures on fashion blogs. We thought the bandana would make a great accessory, since people like dressing up their dogs,” said Divyan.
Some customers came up with their own ways to accessorize with bandanas. Divyan told me a fan developed a bow tie. Earth Rated then decided to distribute a how-to guide for folding your scarf into a bowtie. The instruction sheet, uploaded to Facebook, currently has 1,374 likes and 487 shares.
Lola makes a fashion statement with a bowtie created from an Earth Rated scarf.
Casey and Oliver are just ecstatic to be wearing their scarves.
Fun ideas keep coming
Earth Rated is a social media think tank. “We kind of just have open conversations on everything about owning dogs and finding ways to be fun and creative. We’re always brainstorming ideas. You know, you got to keep things kind of evolving, changing and engaging. It’s definitely a fun atmosphere.”
Some of the ideas the Earth Rated team has come up with include:
- Dispenser Adventure—Fans submit photos of their Earth Rated dispensers in exotic locations. One winner shot a photo 80 feet deep on a scuba diving adventure.
- Dog Moms—Women dog lovers send in photos of the things they carry in their purse. Earth Rated created an infographic to feature some of them.
- Shit Happens—Photos and stories of the dog-induced messes owners come home to.
- Halloween Hounds—An annual costume contest.
- Inspirational Quotes—“A dog has a lot of friends because he wags his tail, not his mouth,” for example.
This is one of frequent caption contests Earth Rated conducts on Facebook, hashtag #Neverstopwagging.
Meet my dog, Rio.