Lilly Pulitzer’s visual prowess has made the brand a natural fit for image-centric channels like Pinterest and Instagram, but from a business perspective, the team needed to show that their social efforts were driving results.

Delivering a Daily Dose of “Printspiration”

A kaleidoscope of color, Lilly Pulitzer’s social channels feature an assortment of photos and videos – from behind-the-scenes footage to inspirational quotes. None, however, have been as influential as the Lilly 5×5. In fact, on Instagram, photos tagged with #Lilly5x5 have received more than 4.4 million interactions since these prints were introduced. Fan fervor is obvious on Pinterest as well, where these images consistently rank among the top 10 most engaged.

Always original and never dull, the Lilly 5×5 is a series of creative paintings inspired by fashion, seasons, daydreams, brand history and events (think stars and stripes on July 4th, or an all-over print celebrating “Colorful Friday”).

They are produced by a team of in-house artists and pushed live to their social channels at around five o’clock in the evening, five days a week – a move that, while decidedly clever, isn’t coincidental. Using Curalate’s automated scheduler, the team has identified five o’clock as their peak engagement time.

Weaving Social Into the Fabric of E-Commerce

In addition to content automation on social, which allows the team to be smart about when and where they share images on Pinterest and Instagram, Curalate has enabled the brand to seamlessly publish their 5×5 artwork on their website through a custom-built feed.

“The best part is that our social team doesn’t have to communicate with e-commerce to discuss what the 5×5 is that day,” Eleni explains. “With Curalate, it’s pulled into a 5×5 gallery on our website automatically. Consumers can then click through to see them all.”

On-site visitors who tap on the image gallery are directed to Lilly Pulitzer’s 5×5 board on Pinterest. There, they can explore and engage with nearly 500 delightful drawings, each of which links back to LillyPulitzer.com. The value of this social e commerce continuum becomes evident when you consider that, to date, the Lilly 5×5 featured on the left is the top revenue driver of all the brand’s pins.

“What’s great about this,” Eleni explains, “is that we can now make the connection between social media, quality traffic and on- site revenue.”

Fashioning a Print-First Product Strategy

The 5×5 prints have been successful in part because they’re not just creative – they’re authentic. “Lilly girls react to everything we do that feels original,” Eleni explains. “There’s an emotional connection and tie-in that we’re able to achieve with each of our 5×5 prints. She relates to them because they are made for her.”

For a print-led brand like Lilly Pulitzer, this type of insight is invaluable. By paying attention to which images receive the highest engagement—and therefore which colors, patterns and themes are resonating with fans— Eleni and her team have been able to reinforce the Lilly 5×5 with data, to develop actionable insights, and to inform business-wide initiatives.

For example, top-performing 5×5 prints can be found hanging in Lilly Pulitzer’s retail locations, featured on upcoming spring and summer products, and embedded within email marketing campaigns.

“We’ve gained so much more knowledge around which patterns will resonate with consumers by measuring how our 5×5 prints perform,” Eleni says. “We even take this information back to our print design team. They love knowing what’s working and what’s not – especially when it’s something they haven’t thought of before.”

Building Smarter Relationships with Fans

Although Lilly Pulitzer’s long-term objectives are linked to traffic and conversions, day-to-day, there’s an emphasis on social listening and community growth.

Curalate’s engagement tools have played an important role in this, particularly on Instagram – a platform on which engagement has accelerated largely because of the Lilly 5×5. To put these prints into perspective, 33% of the brand’s total Instagram engagement can be attributed to images tagged with #Lilly5x5. They also account for 21% of all comments.

Leveraging Curalate’s engagement tools, the team is able to search for specific keywords and phrases (e.g. #Lilly5x5), surface relevant conversations, and respond in a timely manner. “Curalate has helped us really understand what people are saying about our prints,” Eleni says. “We can respond instantly, and the entire interaction is really smooth.”

Consistent engagement, coupled with a thoughtful analysis of what fans are saying, has enabled the team to increase their Instagram followers by nearly 190% and to discover unique opportunities to bring their prints to life.

“The 5×5 caused enough engagement with our audience that we’ve created an entire book, first as a gift-with- purchase, and now as a product on our line. It’s content we believe in.”

How Social Inspired a Best-Seller

A special announcement was made on Thanksgiving 2014—the day before Black Friday—to broadcast the official release of a beautifully bound Lilly 5×5 book. Naturally, the brand’s Instagram community was the first to hear the news.

“We really wanted our Instagram fans to know that this is a book they created because they love our prints so much – and because we love them so much,” Eleni explains. “We wanted to give them the first shot to get it as well as an easy way to shop it.”

This last part—an easy way to shop—would be the team’s biggest challenge, as Instagram isn’t optimized for commerce. To address this, the team turned to Curalate’s Like2Buy solution, which leverages Instagram’s only active link to create a direct path from the platform to product pages.

“We’ve tested every new product that comes out that promises to make your Instagram feed shoppable,” says Eleni. “Like2Buy is clearly the smoothest user experience currently available to retailers.”

Within 24 hours of sharing their announcement, the team drove over 400% more traffic from Instagram to their website as compared to their daily average, proving that this emerging social platform is not only a powerful driver of engagement but of mobile traffic as well.

“We also saw that Instagram referral traffic greatly surpassed Facebook traffic for the Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday period – by more than 50%,” says Eleni.

A Visual Strategy for a Visual Brand

By streamlining their content workflow, listening to their fans, and thinking big picture, Lilly Pulitzer’s social team learned that their original prints have a power of their own. With Curalate, the brand can now amplify these images and evolve their visual strategy beyond the boundaries of social.

“We stand by our original prints more than any fashion brand. Across every department and every initiative, our goal is to attract and engage consumers by enforcing our authentic and colorful resort brand. We are very proud of our unique and highly focused slice of the market,” says Eleni.