Picture Perfect? Not Even Close.

It’s time for the next topic in my series of social media lessons learned while working at lululemon: posting photographs.

If you bother to track our store’s Facebook image history (don’t), you’ll notice there is a distinct shift in the photos used as I practice a deeper understanding of what it means to be posting for a company.

With a quirky brand like lululemon, it’s easy to get swept up in the creative freedom they take with their advertising and lose the distinction between fun/luxury and “on brand”.

Again, this is where creating a mission statement about what your product or page is really about comes in handy.

I’ve had pictures that are fun, quirky and, I think, show the personality of the store be vetoed by management because they didn’t represent the “brand”. In other words, they didn’t educate people about the function of our product.

And that was frustrating.

But I got over it.

Eventually.

Lesson: Sometimes what I think is fun really equals spam on someone’s Facebook home page. I had to realize the tendrils of the company’s page touches more than my friends who’ve kindly ‘liked’ it.

In other words, not everyone will think a picture of two coworkers decked out in lululemon garb waving while standing out my car’s sunroof is particularly informative about our new line of clothing… Go figure.

Yes. That’s a true story. Once again, my deepest apologies, lululemon.

Anyhow. I now ask myself three questions before I post any image (or words for that matter) on our Facebook page. Perhaps they seem obvious, but I need things spelled out. And, it’s okay to admit it, you probably do too – no judgment, this is a safe space. Welcome.

Caileen’s Top Three Questions to Ponder Before Posting Anything Ever:

  1. What purpose do these pictures serve? I’m considering things such as if they’re educating people about a new line, demonstrating something cool about a piece or highlighting our community. What’s the purpose of your page and does every picture support it?
  1. Are my images authentic? This means avoiding over-editing so the photos look like something off Instagram or your first Photoshop project in high school. And again, it means thinking about your company and if you’re upholding the values it represents. For lululemon, this means ensuring my pictures of someone showing off a running crop is actually running. And looks like a runner, not someone off America’s Next Top Model. Take off excess jewelry, put the hair up in a ponytail, wear proper running shoes – leave the wind-maker, body oil and jewel-encrusted beetle accessories at home. It also means being aware of the backdrop to your photo shoot. Would a runner, decked out in a rain jacket and neck-warmer, be running in the mall? Or even in the mall parking lot? Would they be wearing that outfit on a sunny day? Would a yogi practice their sun salutation in flip-flop sandals on the pavement outside Starbucks? Make it realistic.
  1. Are these photos “on brand”? The term “on brand” is loosely thrown around for a number of things, but once again it all boils down to representing the values of your company. In my mind, being “on brand” encompasses not only the authenticity question posed, but if the picture is of the best quality possible. Is it edited nicely, not blurry, free of weird photo-bomb-y-things in the background? If I organize pictures into a collage so they’re more easily visible, I avoid unnecessary (even if fun) details like crazy borders or filters because they detract from the purpose of my photos. If I make an album (which usually attracts more “clicks” on your page), I try to edit and explain each photo as best possible. These little, seemingly nit-picky, details go a long way.

Of course, like my title suggests, I’m nowhere close to fault-free. I often fall short in one or two (or seventeen) of these ponderings. I call it “practicing” social media because, like with yoga, I seem to be forever learning, tweaking, losing my balance and trying to stand on my head.

Oops...

From Fire Trucks to Tank Tops: my Social Media Shift and Lessons Learned

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post and there have been some shifts in my career path. Since last summer when I was working at a museum in Calgary, I’ve moved back to Ontario and am working at lululemon athletica – say ‘goodbye’ museums and ‘hello!’ retail.

My movement into retail began as a seasonal Christmas contract and my desire to stay with the company, and continue to keep a foot in the door of public history, led me to take my store’s Facebook page.

I told myself I had conquered the pesky TweetChats featured in my last post, while managing the Facebook page and twitter accounts for the Firefighter Museum of Calgary, so posting for one little store in a mall shouldn’t be so hard… Right? Right?!

Wrong.

I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

Important side note: Despite the route this post seems to be taking of whining about the “woes” of social media, developing lululemon Mapleview’s Facebook page has been a deeply beneficial experience. This is merely a reflection on the importance of developing a social media “game plan” before diving into the online world. Because, believe me, it’s not as easy as it looks!

Side note #2: I made every mistake possible to learn the following lessons. Forgive me, lululemon!

Side note #3: I’m going to make more mistakes… Sorry again.

So. On that note, here are some things I’ve learned so far:

  1. This is not your own social media page. You are representing the “voice” of a company. Before you start posting with a thousand smiley faces (guilty), punctuation marks (yep, did this too), addressing your readers with pet names (oh yeah. That happened) or affectionately referring to your lululemon team as “lemons” (true story), think about what you want your voice to be. Break it down to the smallest details, things you would never think mattered, but really do. Things like:
    1. How many total exclamations can be used in a post? Is it one? Two if they’re sandwiching a sentence with a period? Be consistent and keep the overall company’s “brand” in mind.
    2. How do we address the people who like our page? Are they “friends”? “Lemon lovers”? Your “peeps”? Where does the line between cutesy and too casual start to cross? Draw that line and stick to it.
    3. How long will each post be? Do you want to create a loose sentence limit? I personally don’t believe many people read past the first three lines (I don’t… Even on my own posts… Juuust kidding…), so you either must be sure you’re writing something attention grabbing, or keep it short and sweet. No one wants to read novels (like this post is surely becoming…).
    4. What hashtags are appropriate? And how many per post? As a company, lululemon has created hashtags to be used, but our store is working on creating our own. We keep it to one or two hashtags a post. But again, the hashtags must be consistent. (The creation of a hashtag is a blog post all in itself so maybe I’ll save that for the next one I write – just give me a year and I’ll get to it.)
    5. How many times should you post a day? I think this question relies heavily on two things: the first would be how many followers you have and how engaged they are in your posts. Maybe you’re not “big” enough to post twice yet and it’ll irritate people when you’re constantly popping up on their feed. Gage this by how people like your page and how active they are on it. The second thing is the simple matter of do you have enough people working on social media to post twice a day? If you’re just one person who is also working in the store, maybe posting twice is too much. How many times a day and how many days a week you’re posting is something that should be worked out in advance. And then stuck to.
  2. Once you’ve developed some guidelines on what’s okay and what’s not, communicate. It’s important to make these guidelines clear so every post looks like the same person made it. If I’m writing every post, I need to make sure the next person to take on social media can also write in the “voice” I’ve created for the store.
  3. Make a schedule of posts. Yes, this seems obvious, but sometimes it gets buried under the pressure to “just post something already!” and never gets done. A calendar keeps every one track and ensures some consistency in your posts. Guest should be able to say, “Oh, hurrah, it’s Friday! Let’s check Facebook and see what new product lululemon Mapleview has going on.”
  4. What’s the point of your Facebook page? Most of us have a Facebook account and it’s used to share pictures of your super awesome life and make everyone jealous of the super awesome fun you’re having. It’s easy (or at least it was for me) to carry this thinking into the company page. But, in reality, our page is there to educate about our product and a healthy lifestyle. Make sure every single one of your posts relates to this goal. Maybe create a mission statement or a mantra so you can ask yourself: “Does this post support the _____ mission of the company?”
  5. Make the page yours. While keeping it the company’s… Cool. Got it? Me neither. But I’m getting there. When developing our social media calendar, we spoke to other stores, looked at their pages, looked at lululemon’s guidelines and ideas and then brought in ideas of our own. One person we work with co-owned a restaurant known for its unique smoothies so we plan to utilize his knowledge and create posts about delicious smoothies. There’s something new. We also have athletes of all types come into the store on any given day and we talk to them, say how cool or interesting they are and then they leave. We decided this wasn’t enough and started asking interesting guests or community members for their contact information so they could be featured on our page. Not only does this give people a chance to be recognized for their athletic accomplishments, but it adds a personal flair to our page and encourages people to ‘like’ us. Try to think outside of what’s already being done to make your page stand out.

Alright. That’s enough for now. My mind is overwhelmed with all these instructions and I’ve started questioning if I’m doing any of the above or if I’m a big ‘ol hypocrite (I probably am).

More to come from this girl when she starts practicing what she preaches.