Lord & Taylor (65,100 Twitter followers) may be the oldest specialty retail department store in the country, but many would consider their social media presence to be lagging behind competitors Barneys (376,000 followers), Neiman Marcus (303,000), Bloomingdale’s (286,000) and, in particular, Nordstrom (542,000).
In September of 2014, the high end retailer launched a several week long Twitter campaign to increase brand awareness and catch up to their competition. The concept was simple: encourage people to post an item carried by Lord & Taylor with the hashtag #obsessed and “see what happens next!”
— Lord & Taylor (@lordandtaylor) September 2, 2014
Within weeks, the brand began retweeting posts of delighted users sharing photos thanking Lord & Taylor for mailing them the item they were #obsessed with — as a gift, completely and utterly free. Retweets of users gushing over items on the store’s website also came flooding in. It was a jackpot of positive user generated content.
— Lord & Taylor (@lordandtaylor) September 27, 2014
That’s when the action really began increasing exponentially — and when I decided I wanted a free watch. I submitted my tweet with the appropriate hashtag and almost squealed with excitement when I received a response reading, “We heard you’re #OBSESSED. Stay tuned!” So I waited. I scrolled through my feed with envy as I saw the RTs rolling in, thinking about what an odd, slightly underdeveloped campaign this really was.
Although the exposure was there, and the company had plenty of positive user generated content to work with and share, it’s hard to tell how many people will visit the Lord & Taylor website again after browsing for that special item they were going to be #obsessed with. As people, we see the opportunity to receive something for free, and we jump at it, without giving much thought to the actual process. Anybody who has administered a giveaway, from samples at a bakery to a vacation raffle, knows people can get overzealous — but who can blame them?
And then there was another caveat.
I personally never heard back from Lord & Taylor. And as a loyal customer for several years, it left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth and further made me wonder how many other people felt the same way. It’s only plausible to assume that a small percentage of #obsessed users received their free gift. What about everybody else?
Fashion brands are some of the best brands on social media — so why did one of the largest high end retailers execute such a poorly thought out campaign? What could the brand have done to make the #obsessed campaign more effective?