Social Media

Kendra Scott bet big on #BamaRushTok 2022, and it paid off

#BamaRushTok had been on Kendra Scott VP of Brand Marketing Amy Young’s mind—and calendar—for months.
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Illustration: Dianna “Mick” McDougall, Photos: Kendra Scott, Amazon

· 5 min read

Picture this: It’s your first week at college, and you’re getting ready to take part in a time-honored tradition that your older sister, mother, and grandmother all went through years prior. And no, it’s not perfecting your keg stand or figuring out a way to avoid scheduling classes before 11am.

It’s sorority recruitment. In some ways, the process hasn’t changed much since your grandmother went through it. She, too, might’ve spent the summer months sourcing letters of recommendation for her top Greek picks, arriving on campus with a fresh manicure.

But she didn’t post her #OOTD (outfit of the day) on TikTok with the hashtag #RushTok back in her day, tagging each and every brand she was wearing.

This slight difference in routine has been on Amy Young’s mind—and calendar—for months. The Kendra Scott VP of Brand Marketing told Marketing Brew that the jewelry company had been “counting down the days” until August, when #BamaRushTok was set to return. And for good reason—last year, when Kendra Scott jumped on the trend, its three #BamaRush TikTok videos received a combined 2+ million views and more than 200k likes.

This year, Kendra Scott made a bet that the trend would return. This gave Young the luxury of time—she had months to plan rather than react in real time, like the company’s marketing team did last year.

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As a result of that planning, Young considers the 2022 #RushTok season a success: Kendra Scott prepared for the trend’s second act by starting its back-to-school messaging earlier than usual, leaning on the brand’s college ambassadors, and more, all of which, she said, helped it increase social engagement, foot traffic, and sales.

What do they say about that bird who is early?

When students hoping to join sororities—particularly those at the University of Alabama—started documenting the recruitment process on TikTok last year, their videos often showed them wearing Kendra Scott pieces, hence why the jeweler quickly hopped on the trend.

This year, the brand dove headfirst into learning about this demo.

As it turned out, sorority women plan 👏 ahead 👏. Through conversations with its Gems college ambassadors, Young and her team found that sorority hopefuls start planning their outfits earlier and earlier.

Kendra Scott took the hint, adding back-to-school messaging to its marketing mix in July rather than its previous September norm. That messaging appeared in store signage, social media content, and marketing emails.

“We were hitting the market too late,” Young told us, explaining that the brand was able to meet young women while they were still home and packing their bags for school this year.

Kendra Scott started mentioning school and recruitment in its marketing in July but began “proactively speaking about #BamaRush” throughout the first half of August, as Alabama’s recruitment week took place between August 6 and 14.

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Back-to-school marketing materials like store signage also specifically included the topic of sorority recruitment, per Young. The team started highlighting Kendra Scott’s “color-bar styles,” making it clear that they had sorority colors and school colors available.

“We also were speaking directly to our customers that were leaving comments,” Young explained, adding that commenters asked for their sorority or school colors specifically. “Our social team was able to reply directly and create that organic content.”

Young also noted that on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, the team teased their #BamaRushTok content in the two weeks before recruitment started. As for TikTok specifically, the team was “doing everything from basically pretending as if they were in the military getting ready to report to duty, to laying out different styles,” she told us.

Kendra Scott/Instagram

“The real key to success with TikTok is creating content with those trending sounds,” and keeping your finger on the pulse of trends, Young explained. Some of Kendra Scott’s content during the recruitment season also featured the Kendra Scott corporate office—something Young said is “always a hit with our customers.”

All in all, Kendra Scott created 27 TikToks that were rush-themed.

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Additionally, Kendra Scott’s back-to-school campaign involved photoshoots starring some of its college ambassadors in Austin, Texas, where the brand is headquartered. Young said its Gems helped the brand get a better understanding of jewelry that this demographic is interested in and what they’d want to see in terms of recruitment content, describing them as “such a wealth of knowledge” when it comes to Gen Z.

Bid day

The team was happy with the end result, according to Young.

“Some of our videos organically received over a million views,” she explained, adding that “this type of engagement is so hard to come by on any other social channel during any other time period.”

On TikTok specifically, Kendra Scott saw higher-than-normal engagement on its #BamaRush videos. For instance, one video posted on August 8 was viewed 1.4 million times and received nearly 160,000 likes. Two others racked up more than 800,000 views. Other TikToks posted in the same time period have tens of thousands of views.

DTC sales also increased 18% YoY between August 8 and 14, per Young. Foot traffic also rose by at least 20% YoY in the week before, during, and after recruitment week.

Kendra Scott managed to achieve this with a campaign that was entirely organic, with no paid spend behind any of the rush-themed TikToks.

“We’re absolutely flattered and just blown away that round two was just as successful as round one,” Young told us.

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