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8 Facebook Lessons from Retail Apparel Brands

8 Facebook Lessons from Retail Apparel Brands

Even if you’re not a retail brand, I promise there’s something you can learn about social strategy from the successful brands in the retail space. Retail brands – especially apparel brands – create some of the most engaging and innovative social media campaigns out there, as they struggle for dominance in a heavily saturated market.

To get a little more insight, we took a look at the top retail apparel brands with over $1 Billion in annual revenue, and focused on the ten with the largest social audience. I ran a Facebook Competitive Analysis for top retail brands Aeropostale, Victoria’s Secret, Victoria’s Secret PINK, Amazon, Macy’s, Wal-Mart, Hollister, Abercrombie, Target, and American Eagle – and here’s what I found.

Lay it all out there.

Between all the brands I analyzed, this was the most engaged-with post in the month of May.

As I went down the list of the most engaged-with posts, a pattern began to emerge.

Finding #1: Aeropostale blew the other brands on the list out of the water, accounting for nearly half  (48%) of the relative engagement when compared with the other brands I included.

Finding #2: When I took a look at Aeropostale’s other top posts for the month, a trend started to emerge. Aeropostale found success with posts like this:

And this one:

And this one:

Seeing a pattern here? Aeropostale is enjoying a ton of success by posting appealing, themed images of ensembles laid out for clothing-hungry eyes. The success of images of this kind accounts for all their recent top posts. But it’s not just their eye-catching images that are driving engagement…

Tag, you’re it!

It’s the tagging! Aeropostale tags fans in posts – a great way to get peeps to pay attention and for Aeropostale to stand out in the deluge of messaging that Facebook-ers receive on a daily basis.

If you were personally tagged in a post by a brand you’ve already Liked (proving you already have interest in the brand), would you be more likely than normal to pay attention, Like the post, and even click through to the link included? I think so. This is a great engagement-building move on Aeropostale’s part – especially in light of the organic reach decrease that we’ve seen in recent days.

Always link to external content.

Another thing that almost all the retail brand posts I reviewed had in common was the strategy of pairing Facebook posts with links leading directly to the purchase area for the product or the related blog post. Not the front page of the retail website, not the blog’s main page – the specific content that the post referred to. For instance, this status…

..led clickers here:
Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 11.40.13 AM
This is an ideal way to avoid user frustration and high bounce rates when folks do click through to your site – deliver the specific content you’ve advertised.

Non-branded for the holidays.

If you don’t splash your brand name all over the image, folks are much more likely to share your holiday-related content – especially the kind that tugs on the heartstrings. This was the second most engaged-with post of May (check out that crazy number of shares!), between all the brands analyzed:

This was obviously a very successful post for Macy’s – not to mention simple and requiring little effort on their part. It won’t take your design team more than an hour to come up with an image of this nature. And never fear – when you include a link in the post, your brand and where you’re trying to direct users won’t be forgotten.

Exclusive content.

Target did a great job with this behind-the-scenes Coldplay video. “Exclusive” doesn’t necessarily mean exclusive to the social media network (Target repped this video on Instagram and Twitter, too) – but exclusive in that only your brand owns the content.

Link to your blog.

Keep peeps luxuriating in your content longer by linking from your Facebook page to your blog (see above Macy’s example), as opposed to your product or sales CTA site directly. This gets users used to you as a lifestyle brand/source of desired industry information, as opposed to a company predictably trying to shill product.

Give it away.

Amazon saw grand success in the month of May with this giveaway post.

The reason for this post’s high engagement rate is pretty straightforward – people love free stuff. But it’s still worth mentioning, because a giveaway of this nature is always a good boost for engagement numbers – and can set a strong foundation for future interactions with fans on Facebook.

More posts do not equal better engagement.

Here is the engagement comparison across all the brands I analyzed.
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And here is the brand post comparison.
Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 12.49.02 PMNote that the two don’t correlate at all. Aeropostale experiences a clear win with engagement, but Wal-Mart is the clear winner when it comes to number of brand posts it put out in the month. Aeropostale really doesn’t set itself apart from the other brands in number of posts – Victoria’s Secret and Macy’s have about the same – but is the undisputed winner in engagement.  The results are in and the people have spoken: when it comes to Facebook posting, focus on quality (see also, thoughtful strategy), not quantity.

Which retail brands do you think are killin’ it on Facebook?

And how do lessons from retail brands translate to non-retail brands? Let me know in the comments below. To learn more tactics that retail brands use to engage with their audience on social media, download our guide, Social Media Measurement For Retail Brands by clicking here: 

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Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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