Can a social media campaign save a business from liquidation?
That’s what Nahji Chu, founder of Vietnamese food chain MissChu is hoping, following the launch of a social media campaign called #weneedchu to save her company.
The campaign, designed by Sydney agency Cypha, launched on Australia Day. Along with regular updates on the MissChu social accounts, there is a dedicated #weneedchu website designed to spread the campaign’s tagline: “Nothing’s changed, we’re still here.”
Videos featuring the people who have helped MissChu “grow so much over the past five years” form part of the campaign, with MissChu customers invited to share why they love MissChu on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
In a statement issued to SmartCompany, Cypha said the aim of the campaign is to “reinvigorate nostalgia towards the [MissChu] brand, encouraging old and new customers to socially share why they love MissChu” and to visit the MissChu stores.
Cypha said the campaign will run for two weeks and will attempt to “increase consumer traffic in stores and keep the business trading at an effective level”.
The Sydney operations of MissChu collapsed into voluntary administration just days before Christmas, with administrators Rahul Goyal and Jannamaria Robertson of KordaMentha appointed on December 23, 2014.
On the same day, Chu said in a statement on the MissChu Facebook page the administrators were in the process of creating a restructuring package “to save the business, save the stores and to save as many jobs as possible”.
Chu has said she would attempt to buy back the business, which has continued to trade throughout the administration process, and last month said on Facebook the patronage of the Sydney stores means “the business will not be put into liquidation”.
But in the same statement, Chu confirmed the MissChu restaurant in London has closed and the international licence will be sold.
Speaking to SmartCompany today, Chu says she decided to launch the #weneedchu campaign to “remind people we are still open”.
“Unfortunately, when people see the words voluntary administration, they jump to conclusions … the first thing they think is we have gone bust rather than it be an opportunity for the business to be restructured. Unfortunately that’s just the way people think,” Chu says.
“Voluntary administration is my putting up my hand saying I need help. It doesn’t mean I’ve gone bust.”
Chu says she wants to remind MissChu customers of “the core values that are really important to us”, including the hard work that individuals have contributed to MissChu. “We don’t want people to forget.”
Social media expert Catriona Pollard describes the #weneedchu campaign as a “classic crowdsourcing campaign”, telling SmartCompany it is essential MissChu “gets the sentiment right”.
Pollard says Chu struck the right chord with her first Facebook post after the company entered administration by honestly telling customers she had made some mistakes. But Pollard says this latest public appeal will only work “if there is loyalty and affection for the brand already”.
“She has a high profile and lots of customers, so it might work,” Pollard says. “This type of campaign probably wouldn’t work for a company that didn’t have lots of customers or brand recognition.”
But Pollard says it will be difficult to see results in a short time frame of just weeks.
“It hasn’t hit the viral stage yet and there is only moderate interaction,” she says.
“They need to up the frequency of their messaging and work on the sentiment.”
At the same time, Pollard says a successful crowdsourcing campaign isn’t about “bombarding people” and it can often take up to a month to reach the “tipping point” needed for a message to sink in and for “people to take action”.