How Away has Leveraged Social Media to Gain a Cult Following

The travel accoutrements industry has a new player in town. Away luggage is making a huge bang on the scene, rendering packing a pleasurable experience for all the cool globetrotters in this world. We decided to take a dive.

Bon voyage!

We live in funny times right now. People are more tapped in and demanding than ever, which has made a lot of older established brands confused about what's going on, and grappling with trying to keep up with their customers. The changing landscape brought on by social media marketing has also proved to be a fertile ground for new product positioning and modern brands to grow and thrive.

While the old school is playing catch-up, the new class is finding itself in a really opportune place, unprecedentedly tapped into this generation of consumers. The kicker? They intuitively know how to reach them. The downer? There is a lot of competition.

How can a newbie on the scene in this day and age reach cult-status in an oversaturated sea of branding humdrum? Well, a killer product, for one. To truly soar above the pack, your proposition has to be superior. Not the most obvious achievement considering that encountering something you've never seen before isn't exactly a common occurrence.

It's doubly impressive if the new product is actually a fresh perspective on an age-old article whose status quo no one ever thought could be challenged. So when something genuinely game-changing comes along, people perk up. Sprinkle on top of that a little social media strategy fairy dust and magical things can happen.

Some of these dynamo rookie brands tend to be powered by a lot of forward-thinking and teams of executives that belong to this generation. That combo has enabled them to appropriate themselves the social networks on which their target markets live and experience immediate success.

But, hold up a sec. Social media isn't actually that easy, let alone Instagram marketing, is what you're telling yourself. Totally, 100% agree. Which is precisely what makes brands like Away unicorns. They came up with a genius product and took on the very uphill battle of brand-building across social visual touchpoints. Not to mention undertaking the extremely daunting mission of influencer marketing. Talk about tricky.

Away travel social media marketing strategy brand story

Away is the embodiment of a company that has been able to build an amazing audience with legions of die-hard followers, all while growing a really rad business. How does one achieve such a feat? While it takes a lot on the brand side to create an entity that resonates within a particular segment, let's focus on the story created and spread across visual touchpoints.

Let's face it, social can be kind of magical, especially when used in the way that Away has leveraged it. While it can be tempting to run a bunch of Instagram ads and call it a day, those won't do you any good unless you're approaching all visual communications from a brand storytelling place.

From the get go, Away embraced Instagram as a key channel to tell their story and to get their point of view across, making it promptly effective in reaching their target. Before their product even launched, they were building the momentum via teaser images on Insta. When their suitcases were eventually released, they crushed their launch with much praise from the press. The groundwork had been laid for instant success thanks to an already on-message populated feed.

What came next is straight out of an influencer marketing expert manual. Not only did they clearly have a well thought-through visual storytelling concept for their account's narrative, but they also partnered with choice Instagrammers to spread the word about reinvented travel paraphernalia.

Very early on, they collaborated with on-brand influencers known to be frequent flyers to help advocate for this new game-changing suitcase. People with a really great eye and a top-notch aesthetic like Alice Gao and Olivia Lopez, among others, assisted in getting the word out. Away was to become the most popular kid in school thanks to this major push from top tier taste-making travelers.

But commissioning influential folk isn't the end all and be all for success. To retain those users who landed on their profile through the posts of their notable ambassadors, they made sure to populate their account with beautiful content that was on point with their story.

The result? Away built a highly engaged audience with members that feel a strong connection to their content. They also thoughtfully set the stage for users to tag them in their own photos to help them complete, or rather, to continue the Away journey. For a brand that launched just a little over a year ago, this is quite the accomplishment.

So much so that we felt this fascinating rise warranted a deep dive into the data to get a sense of what it looks like when a brand does it right.

Shall we?

First, let's examine Away's average engagement rate, which is illustrated in the graph below. They stand at 2.66%, which is insanely high. Most brands hover around 1%, giving you an idea of the caliber we're seeing here.

Away travel social media marketing strategy instagram engagement

For a label that's just began its sophomore year, their UGC is highly impressive. In the last 4 weeks, they've earned 327 pieces of content, helping them reach almost 4.5 million users organically. Goes to show the power of influencer marketing.

Away travel social media marketing strategy UGC

The Away Instagram account is on an uphill growth path, as we can see illustrated in the graph below. In the last week alone they added 1,369 new followers, averaging at 153 per day.

Away travel social media marketing strategy Instagram follower audience growth

In fact, some of their most engaged-around pieces of content were repurposed influencer images. For example, their top 3 posts of all time are #regrams from @saniaclausdemina, @newdarlings and @_tamarapeterson, garnering engagement rates of 10.3%, 6.96% and 6.47% respectively.

Away travel social media strategy influencer marketing saniaclausdemina
Away travel social media strategy influencer marketing newdarlings Away travel social media strategy influencer marketing tamarapeterson

Away continues to crush the influencer game, having these power tastemakers #travelaway:

pack, unpack, repeat 🔃 • @away

A photo posted by SERENA GOH (@theserenagoh) on

Had such a good week in NYC! Always enjoy staying at @1hotels ❤ #explore1hotels

A photo posted by Michelle Madsen (@michelletakeaim) on

Who would have thunk that a sleepy industry of established brands would ever be disrupted by a super cool modern luggage company? It just proves that a killer idea, a well-executed brand strategy and a superior visual communication plan can help drive really high performing results. After all, times are changing... even pets are influencers with their own suitcases.

How it all evolves remains to be seen, but if we go according to our own predictions, the use of creative AI and computer vision could propel a brand like this even further into visual storytelling success.

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