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How L.L. Bean Scored a 437.1% Instagram Engagement Rate (Hint: Puppies)

Founded in the early 1900’s, outdoor brand L.L. Bean has a lifetime guarantee on all products they purvey and a notoriously loyal fan base.

They’re also experiencing a fantastic year on Instagram. Their 1.5 year old account boasts 17,009 followers and growing, and an engagement rate of 437.1% between January 1 and May 31.

I’m always interested in what established, legacy brands are doing on social media. So many opt out of any engagement platforms. It’s not surprising, change is intimidating. But when a brand like L.L. Bean flips the script, we take notice. I decided to take a look at how this old school brand is navigating the relatively new world of Instagram, starting with the quantitative (DATA!) and drilling deeper into the qualitative to discover which posts were specifically driving such terrific engagement levels. Check out my findings below, and, as always, let me know what you think @simplymeasured@LLHitz, or in the comments below.

L.L. Bean Instagram Snapshot

llbean (1)

The Company

In 1911, avid outdoorsman Leon Leonwood (L.L) Bean had the idea for a functional boot that would facilitate exploring the Maine woods and staying dry, too: the now-famous Bean boot.

Today, L.L. Bean has grown into a purveyor of many more outdoors items, and established itself as a trusted source for equipment, advice, and adventure – along with unparalleled customer service and 100% Maine pride.

What The Data Tells Us 

L.L. Bean doesn’t have a huge Instagram following yet, but is posting more frequently every month, and the followers it does have are incredibly engaged. The posts L.L. Bean puts up get a lot of love – an average of 728.9 engagement for each post when you only have 17,009 followers is pretty special.

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 11.06.34 AMHow’s L.L. Bean’s engaging so majestically with their devoted following on Instagram? I took a look at their top most engaged-with posts from January to May 2014 to find out.

What They’re Doing Well

This is #1. Never underestimate the power of puppies.

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 11.11.44 AMBut while a heart-stealing black lab may sit at the center of this post, there’s more going on here than initially meets the eye. This post unobtrusively and organically shows off those iconic Bean boots on a rain-slicked street and utilizes a user photo to connect with a fan directly and capture an everyday moment with the product.

L.L. Bean’s #2 post Regrams Bon Appetit‘s photo:

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 11.15.43 AMThis post uses the tactic of shouting out another popular brand, especially an unexpected one, to showcase the ubiquitousness of a product.

Notice, too, that like L.L. Bean’s most engaged-with post,#2 shows off the iconic Bean boot once again – a subject that L.L. Bean’s #3 most-engaged-with post has in common, too:

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 11.17.50 AMI promise, L.L. Bean sells other items – but they’re doing a fantastic job of reminding us of the traditional and reliable product that’s at their brand’s heart.

What’s your takeaway?

Which of L.L.Bean’s strategies would you think about replicating for your own brand? Why do you think L.L. Bean’s fans respond so positively to the Bean boot? Let me know in the comments below!

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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