In early May, Amy Taylor, the director of Content and Community Strategy for Geben Communication, a small social marketing firm in Columbus, Ohio, decided to make the leap and create a personal website. “In the marketing industry there’s an expectation that you have these things. I started out dabbling in services that were user friendly. I was surrounded by friends who said you have to do this,” she said. “I’m not a techie person at all. I’m just fortunate to be surrounded by people who happen to know those things. Every single one of them recommended that I host the site at A Small Orange.” Three days later, Taylor decided to write a blog post on a fresh controversy.
In an article on clothing retailers who sell plus-sized clothing, Ashley Lutz, a retail reporter for Business Insider, reminded the Internet that Abecrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries does not want overweight customers to shop in his stores, and, as a result, refuses to make A&F plus-sized clothing. In a post titled “An Open Letter from a ‘Fat Chick’ to Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie + Fitch," Taylor questioned why any company felt that it was acceptable to attack overweight people, particularly given that as many as two of three Americans can be considered overweight. She closed the letter by calling on her own experience as a marketer:
As a marketer, I understand where you’re coming from on some level, Mike. I really do. When you say “a lot of people don’t belong in our clothes–they can’t belong,” I get it. For consumers, every purchase is a declaration. With each dollar a consumer spends, they are saying, “I am part of this brand and this brand is a part of me. I believe what this brand believes. I support what this brand supports.” As I sit here wrapping up this letter, I am proud to say that I may be a not-so-cool kid and the extra pounds I carry may not be a thing of beauty, but I am nothing like you or your brand–and that, Mr. Jeffries, is a beautiful thing.
After finishing the post, Taylor thought she was done with the issue. She posted a link to her post on Facebook, and went to bed. “I got it off my chest and thought that was the end of it,” she said. “But then a friend from California called and said ‘you know that that’s going to go viral.’ By the next morning, I knew it had really connected with people.
The pinnacle moment was when Rosie O’Donnell tweeted a link to my post.” Within days, Taylor had more than a thousand comments on her personal site, and saw her post picked up by the Huffington Post. She also saw a rapid increase in her site traffic. She said that A Small Orange’s tech support team helped her upgrade her small shared hosting plan to something that could handle a viral post. “I felt like I talked to every single person on your team,” she said, noting that she moved up to a Cloud VPS plan after the rise in web traffic. “I was very quickly and easily able to resolve everything. They were really patient and tolerant of me.”
As a marketer who specializes in social media, Taylor knew what to expect from a “viral” success story, but said it was still interesting to experience it firsthand. “From a marketing standpoint , it was interesting to be on the other side of something going viral, to see how it all plays out from the back end,” she said. “ The most rewarding part of all of it for me was the parents and teens who reached out. It triggered some conversations that are really important.” While Taylor plans to get “back to business as usual,” she was very pleased with A Small Orange’s technical support. “You have a really responsive team. If you tweet, you’re going to get a response quickly,” she said. “There’s no way I would be able to keep the site up and going without the help of your team.”
Photo by Amy Taylor
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