This blog was guest-written by Lisa Tu, Bazaarvoice Community Manager.

Free People is a contemporary clothing line based out of Philadelphia, PA whose apparel represents femininity, courage, and spirit. Not only is this retailer known for their artistic and beautiful apparel, but they also build their community around the FP Blog and, more recently, customer reviews.

A strong leader in the apparel industry, Free People really takes their customer’s feedback to heart.  They identified key influencers as Top Reviewers in their community. Out of this group, they reached out to their #1 Reviewer, ‘beachcat,’ for an extensive interview which they later used in an entire blog post dedicated to her. Free People dug deep and really spent time getting to know everything about ‘beachcat’—from her favorite article of FP clothing, to what her perfect Valentine’s Date would be. They also collected photos of her in FP products and then featured them in their Flickr Style Event set, a campaign where customers can send pictures of themselves styled in FP gear.

Engaging with your community is a key factor in building brand loyalty and trust with your customers. Free People realized their Top Reviewers weren’t just your average shoppers, but true advocates of the FP Brand, or what we call ‘The Influentials.’ Not only do they give constructive reviews, but they also help encourage potential customers to make confident buying decisions. This in turn helps the retailer build new relations and helps FP merchants gain insight for product enhancements as well.

Free People launched a similar campaign last year featuring Jaime’s Faves, an FP Store Manager that they featured on their blog and website. The success of this campaign encouraged them to take it to the next level. This time around they realized that although store employees are great advocates for the brand, word of mouth is also extremely powerful when it comes from everyday people—your customers.

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