LegeBlacksock.com logond has it that in 1999 Samy Liechti attended a Japanese tea ceremony and, as is customary – and to Samy’s horror – he was obliged to remove his shoes.  Samy’s two odd and embarassingly worn-out socks displayed his unkemptness for all present to see.  Out of this was born the idea of the “sockscription”.


blacksocks interview sockscription

Whether or not you believe the story, the truth is that blacksocks.com, with their now famous "sockscription" have gone from strength to strength as the premier online black sock providers the world over!


Earlier this month I had the privilege of posing a few questions to Samy, founder and CEO of blacksocks.com


Some things you can learn from this interview:
The power of stories - as the legend above shows, Samy has this one down.
Some simple yet powerful tips about how to approach online marketing.
A great truth about Social Media that you seldom hear.


The Interview

Seán: What was it that caused you, pre-1999, to understand that online marketing was more than a passing fad and was an effective way of attracting and retaining customers for blacksocks.com?

In 1998 I was in charge for communication of the Swisscom IPO. So we talked a lot about the future of the internet. I worked on several online projects before BLACKSOCKS.COM therefore I was convinced that internet will be part of almost everybody's life in future.

Seán:  Your 2005 Swiss Marketing award was for "unconventional marketing."  What are some of the most innovative and effective uses of the Internet that you have encountered and/or used for blacksocks.com marketing?

Our concept was to make noise about BLACKSOCKS to generate world-of-mouth. So did a lot of story telling with new ideas. Like lovesocks for St. Valentin or the lifetime socksription as the very best investment in 2002.

Seán:  Obviously there is more to the success of blacksocks.com - you don't win Digital Lifetime Awards for mere online presence and you believe that marketing knowledge is a must-have.  But what are your recommendations for companies looking for best practices and an approach to taking their marketing online?

Never do something you don't understand. To learn about new stuff, make tests on a small scale.

Seán:  What do you see as the shortcomings of current social media technologies?

Social media doesn't work for all target groups. At the moment there is a huge hype but very little stuff that really works the way it was planned. The expectations are too high.

Seán:  Companies often find themselves overwhelmed and looking for efficiencies through tools. What types of social media tools do you recommend? Is there a process for evaluation that you’d recommend?

It really depends what you want to do and what is the size of the company. We tested several. Right now we work with hootsuite.com.


The evolution of the blacksocks.com website
The evolution of blacksock.com online 2002 - 2012 (courtesy of the Wayback Machine)


 Seán:  What are some of the biggest myths, misconceptions or outright misinformation you’ve seen about marketing online?

The first online marketeers told everybody that with online marketing people can measure the success. At the same time no body ever had the idea of measuring the success of a single billboard.

Seán:  How are you measuring the success of your online marketing initiatives?  Who is accountable for their success or failure? What metrics are most important to you?

The most important number is customer life time value. Since 2008 we know for every single customer from where he came from and how much he spend with us.

Seán:  What’s the most important change in marketing over the past year? Any surprises?  What are you most optimistic about for online marketing in 2012?

Click through rates dropped over time a lot. Our very first online display campaign had a click through rate of more than 25%

Seán:  What other companies, particularly Swiss companies, do you think are doing a good job online?

I don't know.

Seán:  Today you sell a lot more than just black socks - without giving too much away, what’s next for blacksocks.com?

The future is hard to predict.

So there we go - some good insights from Samy, but not giving too much away!.  Strands wishes BLACKSOCKS.COM all the best in the future.



Your Facebook Fan page is the page that represents your company on Facebook.  It must be tied to a real person’s profile but, to the visitors viewing it, is a separate entity.

It used to be that you could have a custom landing page for all new visitors to your Facebook fan page to advertise your products, services and offers.  Facebook changed it and removed that feature last year.

It also used to be possible to have a call to action in your cover image that would get new visitors to click the like button on your page in order to view the hidden content available only for fans.  Facebook changed that, too, and will now not allow any kind of advertising or incentives in your cover photo.

In fact, Facebook is changing all the time and so are the ways to do things with Facebook.  Here are five basic steps (which work at the time of writing) you should check to make a great Facebook Fan page for your business.

A Landing Tab

Chances are you’ve seen this somewhere.  Most people believe this feature was removed on March 30th with the introduction of the new timeline for fan pages.  In fact, your landing tabs work as well as ever; the only difference is that you can’t direct your visitors to it as soon as they visit your page – they will always land on your wall.  You can, however, drive traffic to these tabs from outside Facebook – your blog, your tweets etc.

You can create a landing tab, such as mine below, with apps such as the Static HTML: iframe Tabs app.  This app even lets you restrict new visitors from seeing certain content until they click like and become a fan of your page – just like the “old” days!  Landing tabs are a fantastic way to provide an incentive for visitors to become a part of your fan page in exchange for some great free content.

facebook landing tab


A Commanding Profile Image

You must know about this by now.  As mentioned above your cover image can no longer have blatant calls to action but this restriction applies to everyone else, too.  Get creative and don’t forget that you can change your cover as often as you like – don’t overdo it, though, or your fans will be confused by the lack of consistancy between visits to your site. For some creative cover pages already up there check the posts here, here and here.

Strategically Placed Page Thumbnails

Yes, you can reorder, rename and change the images for these.  Hover over the Thumbnail, click the little pencil icon, select the tab whoses position you want to swap with or select Edit settings.

Valuable Content

This should go without saying and should be at the heart of every business’ online efforts.  People became fans because they believed you could teach them something, solve a problem or provide them with some great information. Don’t let them down or they’ll gradually melt away to someone who can provide what they expect. Great content should be at the core of all your business’ online efforts. For more in-depth information about content read my blog post about it here.

Interaction and Personality

There is no question that this is what people want and this is what has made Facebook what it is today.  People are social animals and crave social interaction.  Keep in mind that your visitors expect to interact with real personalities rather than a nameless corporation, so make the effort to be yourself: be personable and helpful and provide some interactivity for your fans with competitions, polls, questions etc.


5 things to help you prepare for Facebook for Business Timeline changes

Tuesday 27th March 2012

The latest Facebook changes are almost live   March 30th is almost here and with it comes those Facebook for business pages timeline changes you’ve been reading about for the past month. Despite Facebook saying they are committed to giving us “tons of notice” businesses had but 30 days to prepare for these changes.  While [...]

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-03-20

Tuesday 20th March 2012

Infographic: How people are monitoring Social Media http://t.co/ZT8R8SHz #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-03-13

Tuesday 13th March 2012

Kilcock in the news again – a car went into the canal this morning … #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-03-06

Tuesday 6th March 2012

Good advice from @PamMktgNut – Why Random Acts of Marketing don't work http://t.co/KgLMoeZ1 # Don't quit the day job! They don't make thieves like they used to in Belfast! The video's good for a laugh … http://t.co/z09fYVzm # Thanks to @grahamjones for the reference in http://t.co/1ypwau8b # Pinterest. Again. Now Big in Europe. http://t.co/EERWgBKc # [...]

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Infographic: What social network consumers want vs. what companies think they want

Sunday 4th March 2012

Fascinating infographic from this report showing just how companies are still getting it completely wrong when it comes to social media … Source: We are Social

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INFOGRAPHIC – Social Commerce Psychology

Saturday 3rd March 2012
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Infographic: How to Use Pinterest for your Business

Friday 2nd March 2012

  I can hear it now: “Another 10 minutes a day on Social Media … ?”

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Infographic: Customer Love – Not just for Valentine’s Day!

Thursday 1st March 2012
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