Have you ever used a Sharpie? I’d be shocked if you said no. Self-described as “THE BOLD ORIGINAL, genuine article, and cultural icon of Permanent Markers,” the Sharpie has been around since 1964 when the Sanford Manufacturing Company debuted the first pen-style permanent marker.
This iconic, inimitable, indelible marker really rose to fame in the early 2000s with successful advertising and marketing campaigns centered around sports marketing, professional athletes, and celebrities who lauded the pen for it’s ease of use and durability in regards to signing autographs.
Now, the sharpie brand continues to thrive, with hundreds of colors, writing tip styles, and applications. But how does a brand that’s grown so large continue to market itself in new and exciting ways? By using new and exciting platforms via social media.
Sharpie’s Instagram feed is definitely the most utilized of the brand’s social media accounts, which isn’t surprising since pens and parkers are a visual art medium.
They post frequently, but not regularly; approximately every two days but occasionally every day, every five days, etc.
The majority of Sharpie’s feed is made up of User Generated Content (UGC) which isn’t at all surprising when looking at the sheer number of Instagram images the global art brand is tagged in on a daily basis.
People around the world use Sharpies for almost every use you could imagine, and they want Sharpie to know it, so they share their images with the brand and with the world.
Eventually, they share the images that match the brand’s aesthetic, and always credit the original poster in the caption.
While Sharpie does a great job interacting with User Generated Content, they have some room to improve on interacting with users themselves. A lot of times, Sharpie will only respond to one or two comments per post, often ignoring questions directed at the brand regarding products, releases, or issues.
Sharpie’s social media managers are definitely more responsive to issues and comments posted on Facebook. The content is largely the same as what is posted on Instagram, but not every IG post makes the cut for the Facebook audience. The same can be said for the brand’s Twitter account and again, Sharpie doesn’t do a great job of engaging with their audience.
This could explain why, despite having 362k followers on Instagram, 3.69m on Facebook, and 163k on Twitter, none of the platforms are seeing very high engagement relative to the number of followers. Social media users like to feel like they are part of a community, and that’s hard to accomplish when a brand can’t be bothered to become a part of the conversation. Sharpie is a worldwide household name and people want to engage, but Sharpie is unfortunately not reciprocating that engagement.
While I don’t love the Sharpie’s social listening and engagement strategies, I am a big fan of their content. They excel at highlighting tons of ways sharpies can be used to add a splash of creativity to everyday life. This partially comes back to their strategy of using the mountain of UGC that they are tagged in every day, but they also come up with lots of great content to promote new products and advertising campaigns across platforms.
There is a TikTok account with the Sharpie name, but while it is using the same profile photo and tagline as the other Sharpie social media platforms, it is unverified so it may or may not be legitimate.
There are no videos posted on the TikTok account currently, and the last upload to the brand’s YouTube was at the beginning of 2019.
That could be a missed opportunity because in 2020, 74% of surveyed marketers said that video provided a better ROI than static imagery.
Overall, Sharpie’s social media feeds are aesthetically pleasing, fun, and full of great User Generated Content. When they respond to their fans, it’s in a professional, helpful, pleasant tone that conveys a willingness to engage and solve problems. Unfortunately, the frequency of engagement and problem solving is lacking which leads to decreased user engagement because fans aren’t feeling heard when they bring up issues, concerns, or even achievements and successes. Sharpie is also missing out on a huge portion of marketing by neglecting to create video content. There is a lot they do well, but also a lot they could do better.