After writing about Live Aquaria for the 3rd case study, I knew that I really wanted to go more in-depth about what they do on Social Media and what I think they should do. So this final project is perfect for me. The company has such a fantastic opportunity to use social networking to drive it’s business but unfortunately they aren’t living up to those expectations.
What is Live Aquaria?
Live Aquaria is an online business, owned by Doctor’s Fosters and Smith which in-turn is owned by Petco. Live Aquaria is strictly focused on the aquarium hobby for both fresh and saltwater hobbyists.
There’s a few things that make Live Aquaria special. Before we get to that, let me explain how fish wind up at a pet store. For the most part, fish are either captive-bred at fish farms or specialty breeders. Some specimens are collected from the wild if they are unable to be captive-bred on a widescale level. Once the source of the fish is determined, they are then sold to wholesalers. These wholesalers hold the fish, ensure they are healthy and of good quality and then offer them to pet stores at wholesale prices. Wholesalers have thousands and thousands of fish at any given time and purchasing them is quite a bit cheaper than going to your local pet store and purchasing them at retail. Live Aquaria is technically a retail business, however, they have the capacity of a wholesaler and can carry a wide assortment of hard to care for fish that a pet store would often have to special order. This and their Diver’s Den selection is part of what makes them special.
I have quite a bit of experience dealing with fish and different ways to get them. I work in the Aquatics department at Petco and therefore I have access to numerous wholesalers like Seagrest Farms, A&M Aquatics, Quality Marine, Aquatropic and more. These wholesalers have literally tens of thousands of fish at any given time and out of 50 fish that I order, maybe two or three wind up DOA on average. Live Aquaria’s quarantine practices and customer service is right up there with my favorite wholesalers. Most of the fish that I get for myself are from Live Aquaria’s Diver’s Den because their quarantine facility is unrivaled. That and I get to see exactly what fish I order before ordering it. If I were to do that with a wholesaler, I would have to call them and ask a favor to get pictures of the fish that I order. Usually I just hope that the fish that I order look good upon delivery.
Live Aquaria is able to back up the quality of their fish with a 14-day guarantee on all of their fish and 30 days on corals. Most companies only offer a guarantee on fish that arrive dead (the same goes for all of the wholesalers that I’ve ever worked with).
Another aspect of ordering live fish online is shipping them and Live Aquaria does it better than any other large company in my experiences. I’ve ordered thousands of different fish from numerous wholesalers and while some are pretty good, none of them come close to the care and packaging that I see when I open up a package from Live Aquaria.
The three biggest reasons that people don’t order fish online is that they rarely see the exact specimen they’re buying before it shows up at their door, they’re worried about the shipping process and don’t want the fish to die just days after acclimating it to their tank and wind up losing hundreds of dollars. Live Aquaria and their Diver’s Den fixes these three problems.
Live Aquaria’s social media presence is excellent on Facebook and then it falls flat on it’s face when it comes to using other networks. What they’ve done is essentially relied entirely on Facebook to drive the business and all other networks appear to be an afterthought. Every post on Instagram and Twitter just seem to be watered down versions as to what is posted on Facebook. Those three networks, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are what the company uses and that’s fine. However, they need to make better use of Instagram and of Twitter. Right now, it’s hardly worth maintaining their Twitter or Instagram feeds.
The company’s Facebook page is by far and away it’s best social media network. They have over 105,000 likes and a 4.2 out of 5 star rating out of over 500 reviews. The Facebook page not only has a lot of likes but a lot of interaction with their customers which is another good sign. Every week day before the Diver’s Den catalog updates they post a picture of the featured fish, a brief description and a link to purchase it when it becomes available. This is an incentive to follow them on Facebook because you get a preview of what will be available later that night before anyone else. They also share videos that people post to their page showing off the new fish or coral they have just received with is another great way to interact with their customers and show the high quality specimens that they offer. And another key aspect of their Facebook page is they often link to blogs that they wrote about maintaining a healthy aquarium which link back to fish or products that they sell. This doesn’t come across as blatant advertising because the advice they offer is genuine and you aren’t forced to buy products or fish that only they sell.
Twitter and Instagram:
These two are again going to be lumped together because they both are essentially just there to be there. They don’t offer anything different or better than Facebook. Everything is just watered down and slapped together. Instagram is used simply to post a picture of the featured Diver’s Den specimen with no real description or link to buy it. If you didn’t know what they were posting, you’d think they were just posting a picture of a fish that they kept. This is a huge mistake, because if someone sees a fish and thinks to themselves “WOW! I wish I could have that…” and then moves on you are completely missing gaining that customer. If they then see a link to the exact fish that they want, obviously they’ll be tempted to purchase it. Twitter has a generic link to the Diver’s Den catalog and posts a picture of the featured fish and other than that, the only posts I can seem to find recently are of the weekly 40% sales, however, those can be found on Facebook too. So what’s the point of following them on Twitter?
What Can They Do Better?
On Facebook, they really do an outstanding job and not much has to be changed. My only advise would be to change the cover photo to explain their arrive alive, stay alive program or their Diver’s Den. Currently it’s just a pretty fish which doesn’t really help them in anyway. Now, when it comes to Twitter and Instagram there’s a lot that they can do better.
As far as Twitter goes, I think that it should be used as a quick way to communicate with the customers and another way to handle customer issues. They can post polls and ask which fish people would rather see become available, customer’s could request certain fish or corals. They could post lots of helpful tips and links to blog articles and this would drastically increase their following on Twitter and help drive business. Currently they have just under 8.6k followers and unless these changes are made, they might as well stop using Twitter altogether.
Now, onto Instagram, here they don’t do much either. They have a little over 13k followers and if they used this as another way to display and sell the Diver’s Den creatures this would increase too. There’s a couple of different things that could be done easily on Instagram and make it a useful account for the company. For starter’s, they have got to link to the Diver’s Den specimen that they are posting or there is no point to post it. The other things that I think should be done is to post photos or videos from customers and hold monthly photo contests. If you win a contest you should be awarded discounts on future purchases or free products/specimans. This would make their Instagram account unique and helpful for both the consumer and the company itself.
Live Aquaria has a couple of videos posted to Doctors Foster and Smith’s YouTube channel, however, most of them are over five years old and the channel itself is more focused on selling products found on their parent site than it is on selling fish through Live Aquaria. So for those reasons, I’m leaving it out of this article.