In the world of retail, it’s becoming more and more common to hear people talk about the power of content, the significance of content campaigns and the importance of content strategies. It’s not that common, however, to hear about retailers being ultra-successful with their content efforts. After all, with over 200 million (!) online content created every minute, breaking all that noise on the Internet has never been harder.  

And yet, there is a brand that manages to do it, campaign after campaign, content piece after content piece. Stylight, Europe’s leading fashion aggregator that strives to “make style happen” and spread inspiration around the globe, has probably one of the most memorable and unique approaches to content marketing in e-commerce that I know. They’re constantly newsworthy, continually trendy, consistently creative, and most importantly, they never disappoint. From Pikachu to Cara Delevigne, from Zoolander to Kimye, Stylight's Harlem-shaked content strategy draws the attention of millions of eyes.

Recently, I had a chat with Aurora Starbuck (PR & Marketing) and Sian O'Flaherty (Lead Brand & Content) from Stylight, to discuss what it really takes for a content marketing campaign to go viral. So, if you’re an e-commerce brand trying to survive in the world of content, read on!

Interview with Stylight: How to create viral content marketing campaigns

Olga: Stylight is one of the most innovative fashion businesses out there. You went from being a fashion aggregator — quite an uncommon thing back in 2008 — to becoming Germany’s biggest fashion community. Can you tell me more about your journey?

Aurora: Stylight was created in 2008 by four university friends in Munich who wanted to make the fashion landscape more accessible. The four founders created a simple fashion search tool for an entrepreneurship programme and today Stylight is Europe’s leading content and commerce platform. We are currently present in 16 countries worldwide, with over 10 million unique users searching Stylight’s websites and apps every month to explore products they love. Stylight has three international offices in London, Munich and New York city and comprises of over 200 lifestyle, engineering and fashion professionals from more than 22 nations. So it’s safe to say that we’ve grown a lot since then!

Olga: How did you step on the path of content commerce?

Sian: Content commerce seemed like the logical next step for us to take. For over eight years we’ve been working with leading global retailers such as ASOS and Farfetch to aggregate all of their products in one place to make shopping for the consumer easier. Given the huge range of items we have on the sites, we really wanted to make the discovery process easier and more enjoyable, so at the start of 2015 we launched our Stylight magazine that features fashion, beauty and lifestyle articles and ‘edits’ to provide shoppable inspiration to our users.

Olga: Has content always played an important role in your commerce strategy?

Sian: Yes and no... Since our inception in 2008, we have been consistently creating content. However, we’ve often seen it as more of a branding/PR activity that should naturally drive commerce but in not such a direct way. With this form of content, we always try to create fun, fashion-centric campaigns that are inherently shareable and thus drive more customers to Stylight. Some examples of this include our Minionistas campaign and more recently our Pokemon Go parody, Fashemon. As mentioned, more recently we’ve launched our magazine which is really integral to our commerce strategy, as it helps the user cut through the noise and discover products that they’ll love quickly as well as shopping the newest trends and styles.

Olga: There’s a dual definition of what content commerce really is. Some say that it’s content-driven commerce, others call it commerce-driven content. Where do you stand?

Aurora: That’s a great question! At Stylight, we really think it’s somewhere between the two and varies from user to user. From the outset, we were simply a pure commerce player, and therefore we initially very much approached content from a commerce point of view, producing content around our most popular searched products and brands. However, since developing the magazine, we’ve seen a new type of customer come to the site who primarily looks to us for original, inspirational content and shops directly from this. Given the massive power of bloggers and influencers these days, it does feel as though the trend for content-driven commerce is really leading the way and that shoppers are directly purchasing from people and content that they aspire to.  

Olga: When we talk about content marketing, we have to keep in mind that there are millions and billions of content pieces published every day. How do you make sure that your content stands out from the crowd?

Sian: So true! From the rise of memes, the Tumblr generation and social platforms it seems as though everyone is a content creator these days and it can be tough to differentiate yourselves and create something that’ll capture people’s attention. Being timely with when we release content is essential. We always aim to promote campaigns just before the buzz gets huge in order to reach people at just the right time. Humour is also key; we always find that funny content gets shared a lot more on social which often results in a ‘snowball’ effect, growing and growing across other content platforms.

"Humorous content often results in a snowball effect, becoming viral on social media and other platforms."

Olga: And speaking of standing out from the crowd, that content campaign you mentioned before, Minionistas, was definitely something that caught the eye of the world. How did you come to this idea? And what goal did you have in mind?

Sian: Prior to the summer of last year we had briefly discussed doing a Minions-centric campaign but at the time couldn’t really see a link with the fashion world, so didn’t take the idea much further. However, after the runaway success of the movie we started to see a lot of Minions-based fashion collaborations, such as their capsule collection with Selfridges. So we couldn’t help but think… what would Karl Lagerfeld look like as a Minion?! From there we really started to flesh out the idea, drawing mock ups of the fashion elite as the little yellow creatures. Our goal was essentially to create something fun and shareable that would be loved by both influencers and press.

Olga: In a very short period of time, Minionistas were noticed by the crème de la crème of the fashion scene:  Marc Jacobs, Victoria Beckham, and many more have tweeted and instagrammed about it. This was definitely a momentum of success. How did you use it to your advantage?

Aurora: The Minionistas definitely took social media by storm and were particularly loved by celebrities and influencers. This incredible social traction resulted in a wave of press coverage as having a celebrity re-post one of your campaigns instantly creates a buzz! After being shared by Victoria Beckham we saw articles about her Minion on the likes of Daily Mail, Paper Magazine and Grazia. We definitely used this momentum to our advantage as we went on to create a second round of Minionistas featuring requests of celebrities that the fans would like to see. In addition to this, we then went on to create a special edition of blogger Minions featuring the likes of Bryan Boy and Chiara Ferragni, as we saw so many bloggers were loving the campaign. The campaign really catapulted to success because of these celebrity social endorsements proving the power of famous influencers.

And as a result, it brought us additional +400% traffic to the landing page, got us features on 700+ publications with backlinks to the Stylight domain, helped us reach out to over 80 million people globally, and earned us 47+ million social media impressions.

Olga: Not bad!

Aurora: Yes, we were quite happy!

Olga: How did you reach out to journalists to promote the campaign? Did you have an outreach concept?

Aurora: The way we outreach our content campaigns to journalists is incredibly important and valuable to us. With each and every campaign we thoroughly consider the angle, or ‘the hook’, with which we want to outreach and we always try to tailor the approach to the type of journalist and publication. In addition to this, we always try to meet with journalists on a weekly basis to build relationships and, most importantly, get feedback from them as to what type of content they’re looking for and what will work for them. Meeting face-to-face is crucial. When it came to promoting the Minionistas in particular, it worked so well because it was such a visual, bold campaign. Journalists in the UK love humourous, bright graphics and given the humorous angle to the piece it naturally caught people’s attention.

Olga: And final question: after such successful campaign like this one, is there a learning you'd like to share with online retailers?

Sian: My biggest piece of advice would be to always keep your eye out for possible opportunities, keep abreast of what’s going on in popular culture around the world (not just in the fashion world) and try to develop unique ideas from these trends. Try not to shoot down ideas before you’ve really developed them! You never know whether a film, trend or even music might inspire people, so you have to be ahead of the crowd and be forward-thinking with your content.

"Be ahead of the crowd and develop a forward-thinking approach towards content marketing."

Aurora Starbuck is PR & Marketing Manager of the UK market for Stylight. Her main focus includes executing and promoting content campaigns to various Fashion and Lifestyle B2B and B2C publications, such as Huffington Post, Refinery29, Glamour, Stylist Online, DesignTaxi, etc., with the aim of achieving the widest possible coverage.

Sian O’Flaherty is Lead Brand & Content Manager UK at Stylight, where she is responsible for creating and executing content campaigns for the UK market in order to increase brand awareness and drive traffic to the site. Her campaigns include ‘The Minionistas‘, ‘Fashemon‘, ’21 Things You Can Buy For The Same Price As A Gold Apple Watch’ and ‘Star Wars: May The Style Be With You’.

Over to you! What's your secret to making a content piece go viral?

Subscribe to stay in the know

We send newsletters once a month that cover trending topics and feature updates.

Olga Rabo

Written by Olga Rabo

Olga Rabo is our content marketing and community manager. She is also a digital nomad and an avid storyteller with thousands of ideas about millions of things that she captures on the Styla blog. Whenever she has a spare minute, she also travels and runs a blog of her own.