How a localized social media strategy propelled PopSockets to success in Europe

How [American phone accessory brand] Popsockets is using social media to become a household name in Europe

Mobile phone accessories brand PopSockets got its start when Colorado philosophy professor David Barnett glued two buttons to the back of his phone so he could neatly wrap his headphones. That simple idea led to a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012 which rocketed the company out of his garage and into the mainstream. Today PopSockets sells more than 200 million units a year, and its products have become a staple among smartphone users globally.

Much of Popsockets’ incredible early success was thanks to the fact that its products are “inherently social,” explains Pierre-Antoine Colonna, the company’s Social Media Marketing Manager for EMEA. “People who have tried it love it, and they want to show it. The designs are customizable, and can go with your outfit, so it’s really perfect content for social media like Instagram.”

“People who have tried it love it, and they want to show it. The designs are customizable, and can go with your outfit, so it’s really perfect content for social media like Instagram.”

“People who have tried it love it, and they want to show it. The designs are customizable, and can go with your outfit, so it’s really perfect content for social media like Instagram.”

Pierre-Antoine Colonna — Social Media Marketing Manager for EMEA

In addition to giving users a strong hold on their phones, the company’s flagship product – the PopGrip – also serves as a kickstand, can be easily mounted on a support in a car or on a desk and its design top piece can be swapped with a different looking one to change style in a second. And because it’s stuck to the back of users’ phones, the PopGrip appears in selfies shared all over social media, even unintentionally. Among early adopters were celebrities such as Kendall Jenner, Michael Phelps, Ryan Seacrest and Serena Williams, whose social sharing helped catapult the company to viral success.

Going global: Popsockets adapts its social strategy to international markets

Going global: Popsockets adapts it social strategy to international markets

In 2017, after massive adoption in the US, the company decided to expand worldwide, opening operations in Europe and the Middle East (EMEA), Asia and South America. For its European headquarters PopSockets chose Tampere, Finland, the hometown of Kimmo Salmi, General Manager for EMEA. Today the company has 25 people working there, with four focused on marketing efforts in the region.

When Pierre-Antoine joined PopSockets’s EMEA marketing team in January 2019, the company had a social media presence in the UK, Germany and France. In April of that year, he spearheaded the move into four new countries: the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Poland.

“We had to do everything from scratch on social media. The US team was already more developed and they could help us on content, but the US is one country – EMEA is made up of many different countries all with different cultures that we have to create and adapt content for,” he said.

“We had to do everything from scratch on social media. The US team was already more developed and they could help us on content, but the US is one country – EMEA is made up of many different countries all with different cultures that we have to create and adapt content for."

“We had to do everything from scratch on social media. The US team was already more developed and they could help us on content, but the US is one country – EMEA is made up of many different countries all with different cultures that we have to create and adapt content for."

In the early days, they managed to cover the needs in-house thanks to international team members, but as they expanded into more markets it became unwieldy. That’s when they decided to work with an agency specializing in localization and multilingual community management.

“We needed people who were skilled in copywriting, creative copywriting and localization, and who were also natives of each of the seven countries,” he said. “They needed to not only speak the language but know the culture, because it’s not just translating, it’s adapting.”

This is crucial because “you can actually influence product perception very quickly by changing the copy of the text a little bit.”

EMEA becomes PopSockets’ fastest-growing market outside the US

EMEA becomes PopSockets’ fastest-growing market outside the US

After a year of working with a social media localization partner, PopSockets EMEA reached all its yearly targets in 2019 and it is now the second fastest growing region for the brand after the US. Pierre-Antoine credits a significant part of their 100% growth in followers in the main countries to localized content and increased engagement with the audience thanks to the community managers. In Germany – their most important country in EMEA – they are currently tagged in around twice as many pictures a month compared to January 2019.

An important metric for Popsockets is the number of influencers requesting to partner with the brand. “Today we receive around four times more partner requests a week than in January a year ago. This allows us to carefully choose which influencers we collaborate with,” he said.

One resulting collaboration is a partnership with Barbara Sofie, a Germany-based YouTuber with 1.2 million subscribers who designed her own custom PopGrip and featured it on her channel.

The effort put in successful social media management has resulted in quality engagement and traffic driven to their websites, which has also contributed to the 200 million items PopSockets sold worldwide last year.

Localization: The secret to Popsockets’ success in Europe

Localization: The secret to Popsockets’ success in Europe

Because Europe was a totally new market for PopSockets, and its team was dealing with new audiences who didn’t have previous exposure to the product, it required constant A/B testing.

Pierre-Antoine said that after testing the same piece of content across all seven markets, and then comparing the engagement and reactions, he would see vast differences.

“For example, we had a piece of content that French people loved and the Dutch hated it,” he said. “That’s when we understood: OK, we really need to adapt what we say, how we say it and even what products we’re launching, to each market and culture. It’s super important.”

In addition to A/B testing and tracking quantitative metrics, feedback from the seven community managers is essential. “They take care of the creative copywriting, they engage with the community, but they also give a lot of qualitative insights about the audience,” Pierre-Antoine said.

“I regularly have a call with each of the community managers and one of my questions is basically: How did people react when we posted this or that piece of content, and why? Is there any trend or pattern?” he said. “The feedback I get directly from the community managers is the best kind of qualitative insight I can get, because they really understand the culture and the context much better than I do.”

"The feedback I get directly from the community managers is the best kind of qualitative insight I can get, because they really understand the culture and the context much better than I do.”

"The feedback I get directly from the community managers is the best kind of qualitative insight I can get, because they really understand the culture and the context much better than I do.”