If you follow Sock Club on Instagram, you’ve seen it: the whole company, gathered every Thursday, eagerly anticipating the announcement of this week’s Sock of the Week by creating an echoing drumroll with our hands.
It is thrilling. It is titillating. It is the best part of our week.
I may, perhaps, be overstating the impact that Sock of the Week has on the team, however, it is a great moment each week that we get to communicate with our fans on Instagram and celebrate the amazing work that our design team does every day.
Since Sock of the Week has become such a cult classic activity at Sock Club, I wanted to share a little bit more about its history, why we do it, and how it could impact your team.
What is Sock of the Week?
Sock of the Week is a weekly contest that we host on our Instagram stories. In this contest, two sock designs, nominated by the Sock Club team, go head-to-head in a battle for the fan favorite design. The winner is determined by the results of an Instagram poll, and announced at our all-hands meeting each Thursday afternoon.
How did Sock of the Week start?
When I first joined Sock Club in 2017, I was amazed at all of the beautiful custom sock designs that were possible. Being the sole member of the marketing team at that time, and a bit removed from the sales process, I really only got to see these designs once we got samples of our past designs back from our mill, which was often months after the original design was created.
At that time, the Sock Club sales process was a little bit different than it is today. The design team was far larger than the sales team, and designers even did a bulk of the day-to-day sales.
Today, our clients still communicate directly with our clients through their Sock Club accounts, because we believe that the design of our custom socks is paramount to our clients’ success. However, designers are no longer getting order details from our clients and creating their invoices (cue celebration from the Design team!).
I wanted to create a way for the team to celebrate not only the sales that were won each week, but all of the effort and creativity that went into each sale. How many people were working at Sock Club every day without seeing some of these incredible designs?
So, I started a channel in Slack, and started to go through sock designs that I saw in our inbox and post them for the whole team to see.
Soon, the sales team joined in and would post their favorites from the projects that they were working on with their clients. It took a bit of convincing for our insanely talented but incredibly humble design team to nominate their own work, but they did get there eventually.
The channel got so popular that I decided to turn it into a contest. Which of these amazing designs would turn into staff favorites?
We started with emoji reaction votes. No rules - you could recruit people to vote as many times as they wanted for your favorite design so that it would win. Then, we would announce the winner at our all-hands meeting.
How did it evolve?
As the company grew, and our one-time customers turned into loyal fans, we realized that people liked to follow the story of this little-engine-that-could company as we navigated the journey from our founders working out of their house to the company that we are today.
We started to ask ourselves the question - what is our culture? How do we share that with the world?
That led us to look around, see what we were already organically doing that represented who we are and who we want to be, and try to let the world in a little on that process.
An easy place to start was Sock of the Week.
It was as simple as just taking what was already in a Slack channel, and allowing our fans and followers to vote. Then, we not only got to let more people in to celebrate the talent of our design team, but we also got to let them into our all-hands meeting.
Through our weekly celebration, our audience got to see us go from a 12-person team to an almost 50-person team, a small rented space to our own custom-built office, a start-up to a tried-and-tested brand.
How could this impact your team?
The lesson that I have learned from this exercise, and from watching the Sock of the Week and the company evolve, is that there is so much richness in what your team does every day.
Your clients and fans want to know more about you as a company. Not your product, not your prices, but who and what the company is made of.
Everything is content. Every decision about pay structures, every product launch, every mistake that you learn from. It’s just about telling that story.
This could look like turning the recipe-sharing channel in your company’s Slack into a recipe board on Pinterest that you promote.
It could look like creating a weekly program to celebrate employees for their achievements that has nothing to do with monetary incentive, like shouting out an employee on social media for finishing their first marathon.
Providing your team with a platform that allows them to shine as individuals will allow your company to shine as a place that celebrates that individual achievement. It will also allow your prospects to see your company not only as a vendor, but as a group of people that share their values, and want to see them succeed.