These are the high street brands nailing social media in the UK

There’s no way around it: high street retailers need to be on social media these days. But it doesn’t suffice to have an online presence: they must successfully engage followers to turn them into loyal customers. Which UK fashion retailers are nailing social media marketing? Retail search marketing agency Red Hot Penny went on a quest to find out.

The agency scrutinized the Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles of 110 high street fashion and accessories brands, all of which have a physical presence in more than ten British locations. The brands were classified according to three criteria: follower count, average number of post engagements and profile engagement rate. Then, the researchers combined those separate scores with a “follower per physical location” metric to get a final ranking of the most successful high street brands on UK social media.

Most successful high streets brands on UK social media (score 1-100):

  • 1. Nike - Score 91.36
  • 2. Adidas - Score 84.52
  • 3. Lululemon - Score 83.89
  • 4. Dr Martens - Score 83.80
  • 5. Urban Outfitters - Score 82.54
  • 6. Tommy Hilfiger - Score 92.18
  • 7. Guess - Score 82.18
  • 8. Diesel - Score 78.13
  • 9. The Kooples - Score 78.13
  • 10. Marks & Spencer - Score 77.41

Least successful high streets brands on social media (score 1-100):

  • 110. High and Mighty - Score 9.52
  • 109. Animal - Score 22.87
  • 108. Rohan - Score 22.93
  • 107. Jaeger - Score 23.23
  • 106. USC - Score 23.77

What the top 10 brands are doing right

Many believe the number of followers is the biggest sign of a brand’s social media success, but the truth is a massive following means nothing if followers don’t interact with the brand. Getting social media users to click on the “follow” button is just the first step in building a relationship with customers. The actual challenge is to get followers to like, comment and share your content -- and that is much easier to do with a smaller audience. According to the study, newer brands with smaller followings have higher engagement rates than more established brands with huge follower counts.

In addition, Red Hot Penny observed that the most visible comments on the profiles of established brands tend to be complaints about negative customer experiences. In fact, once a brand reaches around 250,000 followers on Facebook, comments start to shift from mostly positive to mostly negative. “Dorothy Perkins (26th), Hollister (18th), H&M (21st) and Levi’s (20th) are all dealing with this”, reads the report.

What are the top 10 brands doing to overcome the impact of negative comments and keep their audience interested? In short, they have a clear understanding of who their audience is and what they expect to see. “The brands who’ve come out on top of the rankings are those that demonstrate they know their audience across all channels and can actively engage them in a natural way”, reads Red Hot Penny’s report. Nike, for example, focuses on motivational content for sports fans and practitioners, leveraging its partnerships with famous athletes such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Michael Jordan. Lululemon applies a similar strategy, with thought-out, on brand, inspirational content targeted at “stylish fitness fanatics”.

Successful brands also know the importance of diversifying their content. Users grow tired of companies which only use their social media profiles to promote products. Brands with higher engagement rates expand their content into other relevant lifestyle areas. Another strategy the top 10 brands master is using competition posts. Those tend to generate a lot more engagement than regular posts, especially on Facebook and Twitter. Wallis is a great example of a brand which managed to significantly increase its engagement rate thanks to competition posts. According to the study, their regular posts have an average of 49 engagements, while its competition posts hit 3,129 engagements on average.

Instagram is the best social network for fashion brands to engage their audience

Styleistas are usually heavy Instagram users, which makes this social network the most effective tool for high street fashion brands to promote themselves. Instagram engagement rates (0.779 percent) and average post engagements (11,211) were much higher than Facebook (0.084 percent, 545) or Twitter (0.062 percent, 206).

The study also revealed that Instagram is not only popular among young consumers. “Top performers for engagement on Instagram included brands like Jeff Banks London (1st for Instagram Engagement), ECCO (2nd for Instagram engagement) and Pavers (3rd for Instagram engagement) who aren’t necessarily youth-oriented brands”, reads the report.

Twitter, on the other hand, was classified by the retail search marketing agency as an “engagement wasteland” -- at least for fashion retailers. Many UK high street brands experience zero or a very low number of engagements on Twitter, while the same posts perform well on other platforms. This may be because, although Twitter does allow for photos and videos to be posted, most users still use the platform to react to news and opinions.

Brands with the most engagement on Instagram:

  • 1. Dr Martens
  • 2. Guess
  • 3. Urban Outfitters
  • 4. Timberland
  • 5. Hollister Co
  • 6. Lululemon
  • 7. Topman
  • 8. Tommy Hilfiger
  • 9. Primark
  • 10. Nike

Brands with the most engagement on Facebook:

  • 1. Nike
  • 2. Diesel
  • 3. The Kooples
  • 4. Marks & Spencer
  • 5. Adidas
  • 6. Dr Martens
  • 7. Schuh
  • 8. ECCO
  • 9. Tommy Hilfiger
  • 10. Next

Brands with the most engagement on Twitter:

  • 1. Nike
  • 2. Lululemon
  • 3. Urban Outfitters
  • 4. Adidas
  • 5. Ralph Lauren
  • 6. Next
  • 7. Dorothy Perkins
  • 8. Tommy Hilfiger
  • 9. Guess
  • 10. Dr Martens

Photo: Nike newsroom