**Update** Official response from Lululemon:
Product isn’t going anywhere—we view social media as a great place to share how our community uses and loves our product. Guests will still see the product they love especially when it’s in action, sweaty and on friends in the community. Our local teams are the heartbeat of this brand, and rest assured that everyone is committed to elevating what they are up to each and every day.
You’ve also noticed our consolidation to city-level pages. The stores and our guests are the center of all our decisions. We integrated our store specific pages to city level pages because our guests sweat across their city and throughout the community--a city-level page allows our guest to have one true resource for all things sweat without having to check multiple pages. Better guest experience and more efficient for you.
Last week I had a reader mention that her store informed her that all stores have a directive from head office to not share new product photos on their social media channels. I disregarded this as crazy talk as I had not heard it and it just didn't make sense. Today there is markedly reduced amount of photos of the new products which I had attributed to it being the normal summer holiday slow down. In fact, other than photos from community members that where shared I only found two new store photos. Another few readers have shared the same intel and tonight the stores have posted these messages telling subscribers that they are amalgamating their facebook pages. It seems they want to have more control over the community interaction and messaging. I wonder if the ceasing of photo sharing is temporary as they move over to a different facebook page in order to not lose new albums.
If the change is permanent and indeed a kibosh on stores sharing product, I'm not liking this at all. This seems so inauthentic and insulated vs. community building. To me the Lululemon fan community has developed organically with facebook groups entering the scene back in 2009 along with blogs, Pinterest,Youtube vloggers, Tumblers and various social media accounts dedicated to lululemon information sharing by loyal customers which has expanded greatly over the years and provided great value to Lululemon. Lululemon has always used their facebook store albums as a constantly updating catalogue which are an interactive way for them to share their product and put their product in front of customers without paying for print media campaigns or other conventional promotion methods. They put the content out there, and wait for it to be shared and shared and shared...this is how social media viral marketing works. I'm surprised at the direction they are taking with digital media as it seems regressive and overly controlling of the community which established itself. I think when you try too much to control the image you are putting out there you lose a lot of the authenticity that has been built over the years. The message becomes corporate owned, not customer driven. I'm going to hope though that this is simply a lost in translation issue and that it is a temporary hold on image sharing as they move to new pages.
Frankly, I don't see blog content suffering too much as there are local stores all over in which to find images to share, and readers that love sharing their finds online and participating in discussions. Plus there is always the old standby of ebay that debuts that rare unseen item. So in that regards the community will exist without it's original conduit. What will suffer though is our ability to see a piece fit on several different body types within a days worth of blog posts or that hype about a certain item that gets built up over the days leading up to Upload. I can share with you that the trend of blog traffic from weekday to weekday has not changed in the past 6 years. It is always the same predictable pattern of customers interacting with store initiated content and disrupting that may be a mistake.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this change. There is already a discussion happening on this blog post here Product Drop, but let's move it here so we can easily find it. How do you feel about stores potentially removing the product photo sharing? Are you an ed that has intel or clarification to share (anonymously, as always).