The Monthly Retail Social Juice Index Spotlight: Wayfair.com, King Arthur Flour, Barnes & Noble
This month, furniture giveaways helped home-goods retailer Wayfair.com score high on Media Logic's Retail Social Juice Index (RSJI). Wayfair's fan base, which typically only gives a few hundred likes to brand posts, responded by the thousands to posts about the weekly promotion. A console table giveaway? More than 16,000 likes and 3,100 shares. A chaise lounge giveaway? More than 16,500 likes and 2,700 shares. A Butler Bombe coffee table giveaway? Close to 69,000 likes and 13,157 shares.
Wayfair's fan engagement wasn't solely based on its giveaways, however. The online retailer boosted engagement on other posts by following best practices, including calls to action in status updates. In addition to using many good ol' standbys — e.g., "LIKE this if … ," "True/False" and "Do you like … ?" — the brand also asked specific questions. For example, in a March 7 update that accompanied a picture of a room with yellow accents, Wayfair posted, "Hello, yellow. Do you feel brighter looking at this space?"
King Arthur Flour also ran promotions during the past month, but its fans engaged mainly with the brand's noncontest content, which strikes just the right tone. The brand's posts are light, fun and a little bit provocative (in a good way), like this Feb. 28 update: "How could you possibly not like National Pancake Day?"
King Arthur's Timeline is full of posts — always with images, always with personality — that earn hundreds of likes and shares. Here are a few examples:
- A Feb. 15 tip for pressing cookie dough with different patterns instead of just a fork with this call to action: "Tell us about your favorite cookie tool — and SHARE this tip with your fellow cookie lovers."
- A President's Day post about the legacy of the company: "Did you know King Arthur Flour was founded the year after Washington was elected president — and that we were already 19-years-old when Lincoln was born?"
- A March 11 celebration of National Chocolate Chip Cookie Week with this prompt: "What's your best memory involving chocolate chip cookies? Or, what's your secret ingredient?"
Like Wayfair and King Arthur Flour, Barnes & Noble spent a few days near the top of Media Logic's RSJI … but not for the right reasons. During the second week in March, fans took to every available platform, including branded discussion forums, Facebook and Twitter to express outrage with the bookseller for scheduling book signings with controversial athlete Michael Vick. Even after the book's publisher canceled the book tour dates (citing threats against both Vick and the retailer), fans continued to voice their anger at Barnes & Noble. Fans insisted that the brand should have listened to them and canceled the events on its own.
Fans also wanted to hear from Barnes & Noble, which failed to acknowledge the issue, not only on social media but anywhere (March 14 Google search results revealed no company statement). Although the brand continued to address customer service via its Timeline throughout the controversy, it didn't respond to any mentions of the Vick-related issue. On March 13, one fan summed it up: "Barnes & Noble, I love the way you can respond to one or two comments about your sale, but you have yet to respond to the hundreds and hundreds of comments regarding Michael Vick. The fact that you pretend like none of it is happening makes you look ridiculous."
One fan expressed sympathy for Barnes & Noble's social media team and seemed alright with the nature of the debate, writing, "For the most part the posts have been within the community guidelines. BN doesn't normally remove negative posts unless they break a rule." Unfortunately, it's unclear which rules she referenced. Community guidelines aren't posted, and Barnes & Noble allowed comments to its status updates and fan posts on its Timeline to contain both vulgarities and graphic images.
Takeaways from this month's RSJI spotlight include the following:
- Ask fans what they want. Instead of relying strictly on engagement numbers (or worse, guesswork!), King Arthur Flour went straight to its fans to find out if a specific kind of content (Throwback Thursdays) should stay or go. The post containing the inquiry was one of the brand's most engaged posts for the month.
- Notice when fans stop paying attention. Wayfair's initial posts about each weekly giveaway earned high engagement, but after even a couple repetitions, likes and shares dropped off considerably. Instead of following the same pace/frequency each week, create a different rhythm or try framing the content in a different way.
- Establish rules. Post community guidelines in the "About" section of your Facebook page. It may be Barnes & Noble's approach to let fans have their say on the brand's Timeline, but within what parameters? And how will the brand participate in the conversation, if at all? Lots of brands post rules for community behavior, and many help fans/followers know what to expect from the brand, including identifying which platforms are for customer service and indicating if/when the brand will delete fan posts.
- Take advantage of quirky celebrations and interesting commemorations when appropriate. For obvious reasons, King Arthur Flour celebrated a number of these, including Pound Cake Day and Flour Month, which have obvious relevance to the brand. Can brands recognize occasions with less obvious connections? Yes. Wayfair earned high engagement on March 2 with this: "Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss!" Fans loved it. Although the home-goods retailer probably wouldn't have been praised by fans for "Pound Cake Day," the Dr. Seuss commemoration worked because it was being celebrated and talked about all over Facebook. The brand simply joined the conversation.
Media Logic's RSJI has been measuring social engagement for hundreds of national retailers since November 2011.