Storytelling and Social Media: An Inside Look at Proof Eyewear's Online Success

February 08, 2013


Human-to-human communication is becoming more essential as consumers are increasingly skeptical of the corporate world. People connect more with their peers than a logo or a mission statement. Telling your brand’s story is a tactic that can help you connect personally with your audience to share your vision.

Telling a story, as opposed to pushing a message, simply has a different impact on your audience. Storytelling will draw people in and allow them to connect with your message.  When people connect with and relate to a story, they will want to share it. Engaging with your consumers through storytelling affects them on a more personal level and will encourage customer loyalty to your brand.

Proof Eyewear, started by three brothers in an Idaho garage in 2010, can attribute much of its success to having a great story and doing a good job telling it.

Their grandfather opened a sawmill almost 60 years ago, and despite obstacles, he was able to take it from a small business to a nationally recognized company. The brothers learned their grandfather’s work ethic, and for the past three years they have been producing a variety of handcrafted eyewear products made from sustainable materials that are as unique as they are environmentally friendly. Proof is now an internationally recognized and loved brand.

Target Your Imagery

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One of the strengths Proof has is their ability to target their imagery to their different target markets. While Proof may use high-fashion photography and Polaroids for some shoots to reach the fashionista crowd, they will also take lifestyle images related to skateboarding and surfing.

We talked with Brooks Dame, founder and CEO, to discover some of the strategies he uses to tell Proof’s story and to find out what’s in store for Proof in the future.

FC: Who is your target audience?

When we first started, we really were focused on the young adult male interested in sports and an active lifestyle. As we got Proof out there, we soon discovered that the audience we were focused on was far too narrow. We had women, fashionistas, tree huggers, hip hoppers, housewives, hipsters and everyone in between interested in Proof, so we expanded target our audience. In a nutshell, our products are for people who want something that is both functional and fashionable. It’s a product that you won’t see others wearing. It’s for those who want to be original.

FC: Why did you choose social media to reach this audience and how does social media fit in with your overall marketing plan?

 When you start out in your garage, you don’t have much free cash. It was the cheapest way to get to the masses. In the end, it has been a great way to tell our story and connect on a level that we couldn’t if we had gone another route. We feel like we are well connected and can get our message out early and customize it through social media. It is a great medium. We provide updates, sneak peeks, get feedback and work some customer service through social media. It’s great and best of all, it’s free and mobile so you can get a gauge on things quickly with a quick Tweet or Instagram post.

FC: How did you know which platforms (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to use and how did you develop your social media strategy?

It is difficult to know. Some people prefer one and some are on everything. We took the shotgun approach. Cover all our bases and send out info on all social media platforms to cover all our fans and followers. It is interesting because you get different demographics in each platform. And each one we approach differently. We actually have different people managing each account so you may get a different angle or vibe on the same pair of sunglasses that we just released. So, we encourage people to follow all our outlets. Also, we run contests on specific platforms sometimes and people benefit from following all of them.

FC: What social media site has been the most influential visual platform to reach your audience and why?

We have over 20,000 fans on Facebook. I really like that medium. It allows us to post pictures, links, get feedback. We get a lot of good feedback and interest on Instagram. I would say this year it is the platform to be on.  It’s easy, non-invasive and we get info out to people quickly.  And, of course, it is all about the pictures so it is very visual. Each picture weaves into the story of Proof.

FC: How do you measure your marketing efforts to determine whether or not your strategy has accomplished your goals?

That is a great question. It is really hard to do. A lot of it is gut, but we also look at other things. Did we see an increase in traffic after a certain campaign? Did our followers jump after we posted something? Which posts are getting the most likes? Which things are people talking about or buzzing about? There isn’t one specific thing that we point to that says, “Yes, that was it. We found success by doing X.”  It really depends on the platform, too. We see that certain things are really successful on some platforms and bomb on others.

FC: Are there any new tools or marketing strategies you are excited about exploring in the future to further the success of Proof?

Well, we see lots of things out there. Customer interaction is big for us­­– getting feedback and resolving doubts or issues for our customers. There are a lot of platforms and we want to focus on the platforms that tell the brand story and let people know a bit more about us. TV is expensive, but not when you don’t pay for it. We will be on “Shark Tank” on ABC on Feb. 15 and see that as a great opportunity for us to tell our story and get the company out there.

We will continue to keep our minds open for opportunities. It seems like every couple months there’s a new app or feature that comes out that changes the way we interact with our fans and customers. So, we plan to move quickly and adapt whatever is coming down the pipeline while continuing to work on the platforms that have gotten us this far.

What have you learned from Proof’s use of storytelling and social media that you will apply to your own brand? What opportunities do you see to incorporate visual storytelling and social media into growing your business?



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  1. jeff says:

    February 8, 2013 @ 8:20 am

    Very cool article. I have a pair of proofs and found out about them on twitter. Love this company and their wood sunglasses.

  2. Perry Albrigo says:

    February 14, 2013 @ 8:39 am

    It’s always fascinating to hear how some of these creative small businesses get their start. I’m amazed at what a small company can do with a great product or idea, social media, a shoe string budget and compelling narrative. Based on Dame’s responses, successful marketing is as much art and as it is science.