How does your company engage in customer interaction?
Our social-media efforts are twofold. We maintain an active presence on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. We try to discuss current hair-related topics, celebrity information, latest styles/trends, etc. The key to engagement is ongoing active participation. We currently have about 22,000 Facebook fans with little to no investment in this area. The greater social focus for us has been on building up advocates for our site through social networks. For instance, while our YouTube channel has a few dozen videos, our vlogger-outreach program has generated thousands of videos provided by other users that promote Folica.com to millions of subscribers. We focus on how to get people to talk about us on their own social networks and reach out to people who have blogs with high subscription rates. Our email program is also very active, and we send about two emails per week.
How is Folica.com changing or shaping online beauty retailing?
We feel that historically the online space has struggled with beauty retailing and has had to overcome significant hurdles from the industry. Even to this day, there is a perception that online retailing cannot compare to physical retailing—especially by salon professionals. We actually agree with this statement and do not feel that online retailing will ever be a replacement for physical channels. However, we do feel that there is a certain segment of customers that is demanding to shop online, and they will find products online. If not given an opportunity to do so with a credible, authorized online retailer, they may tend to purchase from a less reputable site, which may harm the brand. We feel that we are moving along with the rising trend of online retailing, and feel it can truly be complementary to other channels. In addition, there are many distinct advantages available online, such as user reviews, video instruction and convenience.
What have been some of the company’s most successful promotions recently?
In the last year, a couple promotions really stand out. We had a Great Hair Day Contest where we partnered with Allure magazine to create a contest where users submitted their “great hair day” photo and invited friends to vote. We received more than 1,900 entries and more than 50,000 Facebook votes. We were expecting a few hundred entries at best, and were pleasantly surprised by the viral nature of this promotion and engagement from the community.
Another successful promotion is still an active one: Folica.com/recycle, which is basically a hair dryer trade-up program. We find that customers tend to need more education about the benefits of a professional dryer, and this program is a way for customers to try out a higher quality dryer. In addition, we recycle the dryer the customer sends back; a few of our customers had reached out to us and said it was hard to recycle their hair dryers. So far, we have had nearly 1,500 redemptions.
Based on the success of these, we will do another that we are still finalizing. We like to partner with companies and will repeat a similar promotion.