For avid Nordstrom shoppers, the #NSale is the most highly anticipated shopping event of the year. And, of course, the biggest sale of the year deserves … well, an equally big idea.

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On Friday, July 16, Nordstrom fashioned a massive outfit laydown atop their Seattle flagship store. The installation topped out at 13,398 square feet.

Against blue skies and an urban backdrop, Nordstrom kicked off their annual sale with a multi-layer art installation on the roof of their flagship store. An aerial video was posted on Instagram to allow all 1.1MM of their followers to share in the experience.

As the video unfolds, a stylish woman struts across the screen wearing a leopard print dress, black booties and aviator shades. The camera pans out to reveal a top-down image of the leopard sheath (it’s from Nordstrom’s Leith brand). It’s the same dress that the model is wearing, although slightly larger at 55 feet.

Why did Nordstrom endeavor to create this extra large #OOTD? And, more importantly, how is the retailer planning to leverage this campaign to drive awareness, engagement and potential sales? Here, Bryan Galipeau, Director of Social Media and Display at Nordstrom, tells all.

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1. What is it about the brand’s Instagram community that drew you to this channel in the first place?

We’re inspired by our customers and we hope to follow their lead. Our customers are very active on Instagram, especially during the Anniversary Sale, sharing great finds with their friends and family. In fact, there are more than 33,000 photos posted with #NSale!

Recognizing that excitement, we wanted to try to create an experience that brings the digital Instagram experience to life in the real world and in our stores. We came up with the idea during a team brainstorm because we wanted to bring something new and exciting to our customers for the Anniversary Sale.

2. What type of planning does a campaign of this scale require? What other departments and teams pitched in to pull it all together?

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There was a wave of excitement behind this project, so we were fortunate to have a talented team of people from across the company working on this. As with any major project, collaboration and attention to detail are key. We had some great external partnerships that were crucial to the success of the project as well, including The City of Seattle Rainier Industries, Alien Cine and the Seattle Goodwill, who found a second life for the materials by creating 1,000+ reusable shopping bags for its customers.

3. What were the biggest challenges in planning a campaign of this size?

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Getting a 55 foot tall dress and 25 foot wide hanger on top of a 10 story building is always a fun challenge! We also needed to figure out how to capture the scale of the project. Ultimately, we were able to film from 90+ feet into the air with a Canon DSLR, and we also strapped an iPhone to a drone to livestream the installation from Periscope – a first for Nordstrom.

4. Who’s the target audience, and in what ways do you think this will speak to them?

Our audience is anyone who loves fashion and social media. We strive to make our posts fun, relevant and inspirational for all customers who choose to follow Nordstrom on Instagram. Just as someone scrolling through their Instagram feed pauses to double tap a beautiful photo, we hoped customers who saw the construction and scale of our “post” would be inspired to take an action, whether that’s to engage with our social channels, share about it with their friends and family, visit a Nordstrom store, or purchase the featured dress.

5. Ideally, what is Nordstrom looking to achieve? How will “success” be defined?

We’re hopeful the giant Instagram will create awareness about our Anniversary Sale, which is our biggest sale of the year and is going on now. Customers are talking about the giant dress on Instagram, and we’ve had over 1 million video views of the installation on Facebook. As with any social media effort, we are looking at reach, customer engagement, and whether people are buying the leopard print dress.

6. What type of actions do you hope to drive? What’s the anticipated response?

We’re hoping that customers will engage with our content and create a story of their own.

We’ve been listening closely to customer and employee feedback. It’s very encouraging to read comments from people who felt inspired by the installation.

7. Your Instagram content typically receives hundreds of comments. How do you plan to manage the resulting conversation?

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We try to answer all of our customers’ questions, whether they’re face-to-face with a salesperson in one of our stores, whether they choose to call us, or whether they write in via social media. We’re connecting with hundreds of customers every day on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and we have people available to help out 24 hours a day.

8. Outfit laydowns evoke aspiration – the desire to actually own and wear those articles. How will commerce factor into the campaign?

We’re always hopeful our customers will choose to shop with us when they see something that inspires them! Customers can buy the featured dress online, by calling us and by shopping in our stores.

9. What tools are you using to manage the campaign, respond to followers and report on results?

We use a variety of tools to track campaign results: natively via each social network to search and see results of our channel posts, as well as hashtag and conversation tracking tools via Curalate. It is exciting to see the word-of-mouth conversation that starts buzzing and the impressions and engagement on the community posts. This is success to us: strong community buzz.

10. What have you learned from the campaign?

We were excited to do something big, new and inspirational within our social community for the Anniversary Sale. We were curious to see how customers would respond to a giant Instagram post brought to life in the real world, and are thrilled that we’ve had over 1 million video views of the installation on our Facebook page.

11. In what ways will these findings help to inform Nordstrom’s future initiatives?

We hope to continue innovating and finding ways to stay relevant to our social customer – both online and in our stores.

Final Thoughts: Shopping the Look

As Nordstrom knows, consumers follow their favorite brands on Instagram because they want to be inspired. With that in mind, it’s essential for brands to find ways to turn that inspiration into sales.

Nordstrom is utilizing the Multiproduct Tagging feature from Like2Buy to drive their fans from Instagram to all three of the featured items – the sunnies, sheath and shoes. Here’s a quick snapshot of what this looks like live.

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As the editorial nature of Instagram gives brands more room to present their products creatively, marketers will find themselves with an increasing number of opportunities to connect with their customers authentically. Brands that make it easy for consumers to take action on this content and to buy the looks they love will have a stronger understanding of how this channel, once thought of as an awareness driver, is generating traffic and revenue.