Social Media Done Right: Moosejaw

Moosejaw, 34288 Woodward Ave. in Birmingham.

Moosejaw, 34288 Woodward Ave. in Birmingham.

Missing: one blue coat and one brown Moosejaw hat.

When Shelby Reynolds, a freshman musical theater major at Oakland University, lost these items on the second day of classes, she was determined to get them back. Her tenacity eventually paid off in a way she never imagined, and left her with lifetime loyalty to a social media savvy company that went out of its way to make things right.

She was dressing for her ballet class in the women’s restroom outside of one of the campus dance studios, and placed her coat and hat on the counter as she changed. In a rush to get to class, she scooped up her bags but left behind the two things she’d need most to brave the Michigan winter: her coat and hat.

She remembered the items a short time later, but by the time she returned, the coat and hat were nowhere to be found. She wandered around the building asking if anyone had seen them, checked the lost and found, asked the office, called the university police, visited the library and the Oakland Center’s lost and found to no avail. With no leads a few days later, Shelby decided to get creative and posted this flier Jan. 10 on highly visible bulletin boards on the OU campus:

“My coat and hat were really nice, it was freezing out, and I really wanted them back,” said Shelby in an e-mail interview. “I thought by making the signs relatively creative and eye-catching, maybe the right person would see them, and hopefully the picture would help people identify them clearly. I decided to offer a reward (although it wasn’t much), just as a little friendly incentive. I figured the things college students like the most are food and coffee and no one can turn that down.”

Four days passed, and Shelby still wasn’t any closer to re-claiming her winter items. But it was on that fourth day, when her friend Sam approached her in the Oakland Center as she was eating lunch, that her luck started to turn around.

Sam said “’You got tweeted about!’ I had no idea what that meant — I was a little nervous at first. Then he went on to explain himself. ‘I follow Oakland’s Twitter page and saw that someone posted a picture of your flier.’ It was so odd to see that something about me had been posted on the Internet without my knowledge and by someone I had never met before. I thought it was great, hoping that maybe other people would see my poster via Twitter and keep a close eye out for my belongings.”

What Shelby didn’t know was that a series of events was already in motion and people she had never met were about to give her an unbelievable gift.

Brian Gingrich, a junior at OU, had seen her flyer on campus, taken a picture of it, and uploaded it to Twitter via A short while later, Michelle Moser, director of integrated marketing at OU and the face behind the university’s Twitter page, happened to see Brian’s photo and re-tweeted it on the OU Twitter page, in hopes of helping to get the word out about Shelby’s plea.

Then Julianna Blankenship saw OU’s re-tweet of the photo and brought it to Moosejaw‘s attention on Twitter. She is a marketing communication specialist and the face behind Cornerstone Community Financial’s Get Amp’d Twitter page, geared toward the 25 and younger crowd.

This is where the story gets really exciting.

“I wanted to help,” said Blankenship. “I noticed that her hat was from Moosejaw, and I know they’re really great with community stuff, so I asked @MoosejawMadness if there was anything they could do to help. I figured they would replace the hat or something. Moosejaw replied that they would see about helping out.”

“We decided three things,” said Moosejaw’s Creative Director Gary Wohlfeill about receiving Blankenship’s tweet. “That it was an interesting story, that no one should be without a great jacket for winter, and that it was an opportunity to allow our customers a chance to be part of doing something great.

“At 1:35ish, we announced that we would be helping Shelby out, but that we wanted our Twitter followers to choose which jacket she would be getting. The voting would begin at 2:00 EST. At 2:00, we announced the start of the voting. I tweeted 3 different options and asked our followers to re-tweet the jacket they liked the best. The response was great, and we were blown away that so many of our customers were taking an active part in helping Shelby out. We had over 100 votes in the first 20 minutes, and the overall vote count was nearly double that.

“At 2:45, we announced that Moosejaw customers had selected the Patagonia R4 fleece jacket and I emailed Shelby with the great news.”

Shelby, who had never sent a tweet in her life, got the e-mail and couldn’t quite believe what had transpired.

“It was unbelievable,” she said. “He (Gary) explained what had happened, told me what coat people voted to give me, and said I could pick whatever color and size I wanted, and they would send it to me right away. It was so unreal and such a blessing. It was like one of those stories you hear about that you never think will happen to you.”

“The Moosejaw brand has always been all about real conversation with customers,” Wohlfeill said of the Michigan-based company. “We were doing social commerce before it existed. For years we’ve been focused on creating ‘engagement events’ through e-mail, daily trivia, texting, contests, voting and the Madness section on our Web site. Each event is orchestrated using the unique, quirky voice of the Moosejaw brand.

“Twitter and Facebook are natural extensions of that approach,” he said. “We have over 20,000 fans on Facebook and just broke the 6,000 mark for followers on Twitter. Our strategy is simply to bring the same level of customer engagement and conversation to these channels. If it’s not notable and someone isn’t going to tell their friends about it, we probably aren’t going to do it.”

Shelby said that before her experience with Moosejaw, she appreciated social media… to an extent.

“I have always been in favor of parts of social media,” she said. “It is a great way to stay in contact with people and quickly and efficiently share information. But I have always been wary about other parts of it. The part that’s obsessive. The part that prompts people to have their identities be shaped, or even crushed, by what’s posted online.

“It was refreshing and exciting to see something like Twitter being used to physically help people.

“It is unbelievable. I have never had such an experience where a business personally engages in someone’s life. That in and of itself says something about the company. It was humbling, and I was truly touched. I am so grateful for their generosity. I don’t really know much about the business itself (their policies and stuff) but I had always really liked it! Every time I went to one of the stores, the customer service was always wonderful and very friendly.

“Actually, when I got my hat from Moosejaw, I kept the bumper sticker they gave me and put it on my laptop. It never really ‘meant’ anything, but now it certainly does! Each time I open my computer, I will be reminded of their generosity and what an exciting story they gave me.”

This article brought to you by the good folks at Urbane Apartments Royal Oak Michigan, Urbane Apartments Ferndale Michigan,Urbane Apartments Birmingham Michigan, and Urbane Apartments Dearborn Michigan

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  • Shauna Nicholson

    What a great story! It’s so easy for brands to engage! I hope more do.

    I’ve heard the owner of Moosejaw present at a Birmingham Chamber event. Very insightful, fun guy who cares a lot about the community in and outside of his stores.

  • Erica Finley

    @Gary: Thanks for linking to my article from the Moosejaw blog! That’s awesome.

    @Shauna: Thank you for the kind words! I’m glad I could use the story to highlight a Michigan-based company doing right by the community it serves.

  • Nikki Stephan

    Such a cool story about the power of social media! I love that Moosejaw used this as an opportunity to engage its Twitter followers and give them the power to choose which jacket they gave to Shelby. Thanks for sharing this story, Erica!

  • Erica Finley

    Thanks for the comment, Nikki! It was very clear to me after talking to Gary that Moosejaw really has its act together when it comes to customer satisfaction. They really went the extra mile in this case, and I think it’s important for people to see how social media can really make a company stand out in a really unique way.

  • Jim Blankenship

    I’m Julianna’s dad…nice job to all who participated; that’s what life is all about anyway-reaching out and helping people less fortunate than you (and regardless who you are, you don’t need to look too far.) I may have missed it, but I didn’t notice a hat replacement to go along with the coat. We would be pleased to fund the purchase price if the need is still present. Jim B. 248.548.0050

  • ericafinley

    Jim — I’m sorry I’m just now seeing your comment, but that is a very generous offer! I will e-mail Shelby with your name and phone number, if that’s OK? That way she can call you if she would like to accept your offer. Thank you so much!

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  • Cathy Burrell

    What a great story! This company…Moose Jaw…gained sooo much credibility and positive buzz, over a donation to Shelby, of a coat and a hat…Any customer can see they are special…any POTENTIAL customer can see they are special…They are Shelby’s HEROES…and it cost them next to nothing…except 5 minutes of consideration…Did they do the right thing? Of COURSE!

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