Since I am a big proponent of the “fun theory” on all activities in life, why shouldn’t an entire company be based around that principle. Case and point – Threadless. The design “crowdsourcing” t-shirt site has been around 10 years. Yes folks, they are the real deal. The company has a lighthearted, creative and community feel – which in my opinion is the way of the corporate future – no more oppression, greyness, cubicles and monitoring of what websites employees visit. It’s time that companies learn that they can get a lot more productivity and free social media PR from their staff, if they treat them well and give them some personal and creative freedom.
Playtime is a part of their company culture, their new locale “will include the pool and pingpong tables, arcade machines, basketball and bowling games, and photo booth”. “Giving employees the freedom to take a break to play a game or socialize lets them know that management trusts them. ‘If you want people to do work that’s inspired instead of just punching a clock, you have to give them some freedom to do so on their terms,’ Nickell said.”
Threadless is also super successful at social media, creating an active and engaged community. “It’s actually a community of more than one million people who collaborate to design the t-shirts. Each week designers submit their design and the community votes on their favorites.” Currently on Facebook they have over 150,000 fans and 1.5 million followers on Twitter.
The Threadless team motivates and gives their community tons of freedom and rewards from creating their own contests to fantastic prizes for design winners. The company is also a testament for quality, not needing to advertise for the first 8 years – WOM was the way people found out about the product.
My opinion about success in social media has always been that you have to have a real personality as a brand, and your staff and customers need to believe it. That is why you need a culture with a passion and character! Companies that force it won’t do well – social media does a great job of exposing fakes. I think Threadless is an excellent case study on what smart, innovative, re-defining corporate culture companies are doing – engaging their staff and clients for one fun shared vision. That my friends, pays off on so many levels. Cheers!