Threadless and Twitter have launched 'Twitter Tees by Threadless.' This takes Threadless' existing crowdsourced t-shirt model fully into the realms of Twitter, with official endorsement from Biz Stone and the Twitter leadership. 'Twitter Tees by Threadless' is a great example of driving value from social thinking, rather than social media (something that Neil has been talking about here.) Yes, the idea is based on social platforms and amplified through social sites - but the starting point is the thought of 'community creation' not media / advertising.
Threadless has always been based on community creation and the model allows quick turnarounds and innovative fashion. (Users submit ideas, the Threadless community votes over a 7 day period, winning designs get printed and the designers get rewarded with cash and community kudos.)
Twitter Tees by Threadless now applies a similar principle to Twitter - and with over 500,000 Twitter followers they have a good base as a starting point! Twitter users can submit or nominate tweets that they think should be featured on a Threadless T-shirt, the Threadless community votes, the winning tweets are designed onto shirts by the Threadless designers and then sold through the Threadless store. (Winning submissions get the submitter $500, winning nominations get the nominator $140.)
The whole business model for Threadless is based on an implicit understanding of how the social web works and gives a great demonstration of how communities can be built and harnessed across an organisation. Identifying online enthusiasts and passion groups and then using social platforms to bring them into the core of a business would appear to be a more powerful way of utilising social opportunities than just running ads on Facebook - but it requires a good deal more commitment. The media aspect of social offers some exciting opportunities for brands, but the potential of the social web can be significantly greater if the power of community is fully realised.
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