How HIKI Shifted Their Social Media Marketing Launch Strategy During COVID-19

HIKI, a newly launched genderless full body sweat brand, was set to reveal their DTC brand in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing. Despite the pandemic, HIKI decided to push forward with the launch by shifting its social media marketing launch strategy to suit the times we were living in. But how did they manage to do so?

Read on for a behind-the-scenes look at how HIKI shifted their social media marketing strategy for a COVID-19 era and how they leaned on their community to co-create their products. You’ll hear directly from Tinah Ogalo, Social Media Coordinator at HIKI, and you’ll learn:

This post is part of the #BufferBrandSpotlight, a Buffer Social Media series that shines a spotlight on the people that are helping build remarkable brands through social media, community building, content creation, and brand storytelling.

This series was born on Instagram stories, which means you can watch the original interview in our Highlights found on our @buffer Instagram profile.

Who are you?

Hi, I’m Tina w/ an H. I’m the social media coordinator for arfa, a new consumer goods brand house specialising in personal care products. We co-create every product with real people from all over the country (we call them the arfa Collective) because we believe people should have a say in what they put on their bodies. And in return, we make them stakeholders in the business and give them 5% of profits. We currently have two brands that we launched this summer: HIKI, a genderless full body sweat line, and State Of, a skincare and beauty line for menopausal women.

Where do you find inspiration for HIKI’s social media content?

Our HIKI audience is predominantly Gen-Z / millennials, so I look to platforms and topics that those demos are currently responding to most, like pop culture, TikTok, Giphy, and my Instagram explore page. I also am so inspired by our community’s posts about HIKI. They created the brand with us and they’re so invested in its success, so when they post content to their socials about our products, I am always re-posting or coming up with creative ways to showcase their content.

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One example was the ‘Put a Finger Down’ challenge on TikTok. We saw that this was a great way to engage with our community so we created our own version to show them and others that sweating is totally normal. We had our Collective members, Noelle and Gabe participate in the challenge. Fun Fact – that’s our UX Designer, Ian’s, voice. We thought a British accent would be a nice added touch LOL.

How does managing HIKI’s social media account and community look like on a day-to-day basis?

Every morning I check to see what posts I’ve got lined up for the day, and then I go through all of our notifications that I may have missed from the night before. For the rest of the day, I’m working on the content calendar that’s two weeks out, searching for the latest trends, leveraging audience insights, making creative briefs for assets I want to incorporate into the feed, and working closely with our designers to create custom content for each platform.

HIKI was launched in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing. How did HIKI shift its marketing launch strategy to suit the times we were living in?

I joined in June, so I wasn’t at arfa for the initial launch, but the team did an amazing job. They had all of these plans for launch, then when COVID hit, people’s lives and priorities shifted of course, as a business ours did as well. It felt counter-intuitive to what we were trying to build – products and brands that put people first – to launch for-profit as though the world hadn’t changed. We also realized sourcing supplies was a big problem for a lot of folks, so we decided to instead give away all of the products we had ready to sell and ship to healthcare personnel, essential workers, and first responders—we ended up giving away 20,000 products, and I am so proud of that.

It also helped us a lot when we officially launched for sale in July, because we had about 300 reviews on the site and had already gotten some amazing feedback from customers that I could use on social. Beyond that, we really leaned on our Collective, the people from all over the country we built the brand with, and micro and nano influencers to get as much vibrant and fun content as possible to push on our organic and paid channels to spread awareness. And it worked! The response to our branding on social accounts has been overwhelmingly positive.

What marketing/social media advice do you have for brands that are pre-launch?

Launches are always hectic (but so fun!), so it’s important to do as much heavy lifting beforehand so you can sit back on launch day and enjoy the show. Build up your asset arsenal so you have lots of social content to choose from in the first few weeks, gift 50-100 influencers in the 20K-100K range to generate buzz, partner with like-minded brands on social giveaways to build up your email list, and do lots of research on relevant hashtags. And definitely have at least a two-week plan so then you can breathe.

How do you leverage HIKI’s community to inform your marketing strategy?

Our Collective wants us to succeed just as much as we do, getting feedback from them is always great because it’s so inspiring. Creating engaging stories such as polls and questions allows us to see what our community likes and doesn’t like. Right now we know that they’re big fans of product shots and memes. They tell us how they incorporate HIKI into their lives and in turn, helps us share with our community different HIKI Hacks.

What’s your number one tip for engaging with HIKI’s community?

Be active and listen! Check throughout the day that you’ve answered everyone, pinned tweets, liked comments. Even on the weekends, I check on our page in the morning, midday, and evening. It’s so important to us that our social account feels like a person(because it is! It’s me! :)) and we all are engaging with our feeds regularly, so the same should go for HIKI.

I am always on the platforms, looking at what interesting new brands are doing and what’s trending. (Side note: I LIVE for TikTok trends). I also listen to podcasts and read social media blogs, like Homemade Social, to stay in the know.

What’s your favorite HIKI product and why?

I love all of our children equally, but if I HAD to pick, I’d say the Body Powder because it smells amazing, is talc-free, and rubs into my skin seamlessly. Besides putting some on my lower back to fight my daily back sweat, I also use it as a setting powder.

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We hope this interview with Tina w/ an H helps you get started with or double down on your social media efforts. You can follow her journey on Instagram here!

Have any questions for Tinah? Feel free to reply with your questions to the Twitter post below and Tinah or someone from the Buffer team will get to them as soon as possible.

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