An authentic shoe brand goes social

Grenson Shoes

Grenson is a classic English shoe brand, founded in 1866. The company was bought a few years ago by Tim Little and completely revitalised, with a store in trendy Shoreditch, a presence in top retailers around the world, a thriving ecommerce website and high-profile collaborations with brands like Barbour and New Balance.

Social media at Grenson is run by Joe Hutchings, a company director. What we like about the way Joe does social is that he keeps it entirely authentic. All social interactions come straight from the heart of the brand – a compelling blend of heritage, quality, fashion and trendy urban integrity.

As of writing, Grenson has 4,700 Facebook fans, 2,700 Twitter followers and a vibrant Pinterest presence – and it’s all growing fast. Joe and Tim aren't too concerned about the numbers right now – for them, social media is all about engaging with people who like the brand.

On any given day you might see a friend posting a shot of their feet on a Swiss tram; a photo of a celebrity wearing Grenson in a fashion magazine; or Joe giving someone advice on how to care for their new shoes. It’s a great brand with a great use of social.

On Twitter: @grensonshoes
On Facebook: Grenson Shoes
On Pinterest:


Joe Hutchings, Grenson Director, on Authenticity

We do social media really organically -- it's not a tight strategy, I just share things I find interesting during the day and that seems to work. People respond to it.

We really want to retain the personality of the brand in social media – that's a key to who we are. I don't want to do slick or over-promotional, "Sale Now On!' type stuff.

A post might be “We're in New York for a trade show and in this cool bar." That's about the personality of the brand not about products. We will do some posts that connect to selling – on a sunny day we might post something from the spring/summer collection and that gets people thinking about it.

We're still on the learning curve with social but what we're doing seems to be working well. It's not pushy or salesy.

On Social Content

Our posts are a combination of things I see – people wearing our shoes out in the world or in the shop – and things people send in of themselves or their friends. So it might be someone posting their feet on a tram in Zurich, or in a pub in London.

They like the brand, like what they're wearing and want to connect back with us to show us.

I'll stop and ask people in the street if I can take a picture of their feet. A bit strange, I know.

I like it when it's all joined up. So we were in FHM magazine today and a celebrity was wearing our shoes. So I just shot the magazine pictures with my iPhone and posted it. And someone posted back asking what issue it was so they could go out and get it.

Facebook is also great for answering questions people may have. Like how to look after their shoes or where they can buy a certain shoe.

On Metrics

I don't check on how many followers we have all the time. It's lovely to see it growing and that people are engaging but we're not obsessed with adding followers or friends. We want people to follow because they really like the brand, not because we pushed for it.

We do see increasing traffic to our ecommerce site from Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest but we're not making that the number one reason for doing it right now. It's more about the brand and engaging with people who like the brand.

On Resourcing

There are lots of social media things to do out there but we don't have a lot of resources to throw at it. It's just me right now -- and Tim Little, our CEO. We don't have all day to do social media, so focusing on where our audience is makes sense.

I'll eventually pass on the social media duties to someone else but for now, I'm happy to keep it close and to learn about it. I understand the tone of the brand and the kinds of things we should be saying. And that's important.

I don't want to end up being a faceless brand. With some brands, they post and you know it isn't really the name behind the brand -- it's just an agency or someone paid to do the social stuff. For us, it's me and it's Tim. And people can tell.

#Social Success Lessons

  • Make your social media activities reflect your brand
  • Start small, experiment and go with what works
  • Focus on a few channels first: where your target audience is
  • Invite people to share content on your social pages
  • You don’t need a huge social media team: just do it!

Read about more of our Social Heroes.

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