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Holiday Shopping Showdown – The Social Media Results Are In!

What Happened Online with the 2011 Holiday Shopping Season?

The 2011 Holiday Shopping Showdown has come to a close and it has definitely been an exciting season! Early reports show that total retail sales are expected to be approximately $468B, up 3.8% from 2010. Online sales were key to this growth, increasing 15% from 2010 to $35.5B. And as this battle gets fought online, social media has become a key part of the Holiday Shopping push for many retailers.

Tracking Facebook Fan Page analytics during the Holiday Shopping season, we saw a huge amount of growth for top retailers. The retailers we tracked added a combined total of 4.7MM new followers, increasing their total fan bases by 12%. When it comes to engagement, there were 2.53MM fan interactions, amounting to 5.7% of the fan base! That’s a lot of engagement.

Holiday Season Catch-Up

When we last checked in, Macy’s was leading the charge in terms of engagement, Staples had the largest percentage of fan growth, and Target had the biggest volume increase in number of fans. As we entered into the final days of the season, we were curious to see if Staples and Target could find ways to maximize the return on their fan growth, by improving their engagement rates.

Who did it “right?”

Across the board we saw a many different strategies from each of the retailers, some that paid off, some that left room for improvement, and all of which show some interesting trends.

When we look at percent increase in fans, Staples is the clear leader with a total increase of 64%. At the start of the season we saw that they did require you to like their page to get access to exclusive deals. Over the course of the showdown they also ran a variety of promotions, from a “Tech-a-Day Giveaway” to the “Worst Gift Ever” promo that encouraged you to engage with your Facebook friends. All of which helped result in this great increase in fans.

Also, it’s important to call out that Target added the largest volume of fans with 1.6MM. They also took the approach of posting about contests but even more interesting is how they pushed the “like our page for exclusive deals” message throughout the Holiday Season, not just at the start.

Taking the top 5 fan gainers and looking at engagement rates, we see that Macy’s takes the top spot. Over the course of the season they continually executed a variety of promotions that ranged from simple likes to a post (one even got almost 70,000 likes) to posting and sharing recipes. This strategy paid off as they were able to surpass the other retailers’ engagement rates as well as increase their number of fans by 31%.  They also encouraged you to like their page to gain access to special promotions and deals. This is interesting to note as sometimes brands worry that pushing people to like your page to get access to special promotions can be a deterrent. As we can see here, this is not necessarily the case. In fact, all of the top five brands listed above required you to like for exclusive access. For this time period, Macy’s was the best at capitalizing on all their fans.

And the winner is…!

Based on the social media data above, the winner is Macy’s. Their strategy of driving fan growth and maximizing their interactions with their fans clearly paid off this Holiday Season. And while it’s too early to see if this resulted in the ultimate win (sales) the numbers are stacked in their favor.

The fun isn’t over yet! As an added bonus we’re going to continue to follow these retailers. We will be using the suite of Simply Measured reports to see how these retailers continue to stack up against each other from a variety of perspectives.

Have a retailer you’d like to see added to this list? Let us know in the comments below!

Have a question about how we can help you pull reports like these?  Email us (us (at) and we’d be glad to help you get started.

Adam Schoenfeld

Adam is the Co-Founder and VP of Strategy at Simply Measured. In 2010 (aka the dark ages of social marketing), Adam joined Damon Cortesi and Aviel Ginzburg to found "Untitled Startup, Inc" with the goal of helping marketers and analysts use social data to do their best work. The company quickly evolved to become Simply Measured and the trusted leader in social analytics. Outside of Simply Measured, Adam is a golfer, breakfast enthusiast, and long-time data geek.

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