What can social media tell us about the sad demise of high street retailers such as Woolworth’s, Comet, Blockbusters and Jessops? Some quick and dirty research shows these high-street failures were also social media fails.
There could be many reasons for their failure, not least the products they sell, their online strategy, brand, pricing etc…
But out of curiosity I wanted to know how these failed stores fared on social. For simplicity’s sake, I just looked at their Facebook pages for the number of likes.*
As you can see from the table below, (unsurprisingly, perhaps), the numbers seem low.
|Brand||‘Likes’ on Facebook||Status|
|HMV||185,268||Went into administration on 15th January 2013 but has been bought out by Hilco as of 22nd January 2013|
|Blockbuster||181,647||UK stores in administration as of 16 January 2013|
|Comet UK||35,165||Company is now closed|
|Past Times||24,551||Went into administration in January 2012, now exists solely online|
|Clintons||14,360||Bought out of administration by American Greetings in June 2012|
|Hawkins Bazaar||10,177||Bought out of administration by exisiting management|
|Peacocks||4,458||Bought out of administration by Edinburgh Woollen Mill in February 2012|
|JJB Sports||2,881||Partly bought out by Sports Direct in September 2011|
|Blacks||2,508||Bought out by JD Sports in January 2012|
|Jessops||708||Company closure announced on January 2011|
|Borders Books UK||524||Stores have been closed since December 2009, however the website and database has been bought out by The Capital Organisation|
|T J Hughes||172||6 stores remain, bought out by Lewis’s Home Retail|
I then compared them to some of the (what appear to be) more buoyant high street stores. As you can see the average community size of this group of survivors is 384,363, compared to 38,535. That is a 10 fold difference!
|Brand||‘Likes’ on Facebook|
|American Apparel UK||1,365,405|
|H & M (Regent Street)||1,059,728|
|House of Fraser||230,580|
|Early learning Centre UK||73,024|
|Abercrombie & Fitch London||45,988|
|Banana Republic UK||11,343|
I am not claiming this is in any way scientific, but it does beg two thoughts about why the failed high street stores have relatively small Facebook communities:
- Is it because few customers literally liked them? So low levels of engagement on Facebook suggests lower levels of consumer interest and engagement with the brand.
- Or is it because of a lack of investment in digital and social specifically to drive up numbers? If so, this demonstrates they were generally a business behind the times anyway…
There seems to be some form of correlation but I would love to know your thoughts…*some brands no longer have (or never had) a Facebook page, but instead have a holding page Picture courtesy of Rose and Trev Clough and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1837269