The best social media performers of Q1 2021 revealed in Retail Week . . with a little help from Maybe*

We're delighted to have been invited to become a regular contributor to Retail Week (paywall) , helping drive the conversation around retail with social media data and insight from Maybe*.

As Q1 came to a close, the doors of retail got ready to re-open. For the first three months of 2021, it once again fell to social media to keep us engaged and entertained as the country continued to both work and play indoors.

So, how does the social media data of 160 fashion and luxury retailers in the UK compare? We have profiled all of their social media content to see which created the most engaging social media content during Q1.

Quarterly review of the Top 20 fashion and luxury brands for social media engagement January 1 - March 28 2021

Retailer Posts Total engagements on posts Average posts per day by organisation Average engagement on each post Average engagements per day
Nike 108 734,561 1 6,801.50 8,443.24
H&M 178 1,023,250 2 5,748.60 11,761.50
Burberry® Official Site 153 647,171 2 4,229.88 7,438.76
Urban Outfitters 505 881,349 6 1,745.25 10,130.45
Missguided 1,475 1,974,544 17 1,338.67 22,695.91
Boohoo 2,004 1,827,862 23 912.11 21,009.91
ASOS 1,931 1,079,178 22 558.87 12,404.35
Zara 1,654 866,762 19 524.04 9,962.79
END. | Style. Sneakers. Luxury ... 969 500,423 11 516.43 5,751.99
Gymshark UK 2,625 898,528 30 342.3 10,327.91
farfetch 361 94,956 4 263.04 1,091.46
New Look 1,726 376,910 20 218.37 4,332.30
The White Company Clearance St ... 551 113,009 6 205.1 1,298.96
River Island 949 152,914 11 161.13 1,757.63
FootAsylum 711 108,801 8 153.03 1,250.59
John Lewis & Partners 468 70,380 15 150.38 2,270.33
Boux Avenue 926 104,939 11 113.33 1,206.20
Primark 5,353 475,302 62 88.79 5,463.25
Mark And Spencers 7,235 325,411 83 44.98 3,740.37
Next 3,038 100,270 35 33.01 1,152.53

What does the social media data tell us about how active brands are?

On average the businesses in the top 20 post 19 times per day. Marks & Spencer and Primark are the most active per day as they prioritise responding to customer engagement. Burberry and H&M are the least active with an average of one or two posts per day. Though H&M operates a separate social media presence purely for customer enquiries.

But shouting less certainly pays off for these brands as they see more engagement per post demonstrating that what they say is said and received well.

Who comes out top?

Maybe* uses a distinct algorithm to score engagement. Instead of simply capturing the total number of engagements, Maybe* weights shares of social content the highest, then comments, and then likes. As shares and comments require a deeper level of engagement than simply liking a post, Maybe* is able to measure whose content is receiving the highest level of customer engagement at a deeper level. The Maybe* data takes the top 20 businesses with the highest total number of engagements for Q1 and then ranks the top 20 by their average engagements per post.

Through Q1 Nike receives the highest number of average engagements per post. H&M and Burberry come in second and third place.

Where retailers such as Primark, M&S and Next see much lower levels of engagement per post, they create much higher levels of content overall. A vast amount of their posts are customer service responses of a one-on-one nature and do not lend themselves to mass engagement, but their total number of engagements nods to the strength of their content.


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A post shared by H&M (@hm)


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A post shared by Burberry (@burberry)

Where are the retailers driving the most engagements and what are they saying?

Nike scored the top spot with Mother's Day content and by paying tribute to the mothers that raise athletes and the athletes who are also mothers. Nike continues to champion its diversity and inclusion agenda through its social media content. As we saw in 2020, this messaging, and crucially being seen to walk the talk, continues to be of the utmost importance to shoppers.

END Clothing, Zara, H&M, Nike, Burberry and Urban Outfitters all occupied the top 10. Of the entire top 10, these were the only brands not to rely on competitions to drive their posts the most engagement. Missguided’s best post saw them offering the chance to win a deposit for a first time home buyer. This is an interesting take on a contest, as the prize was not cash to spend with the brand, but was instead, a prize that reflects the current life position and priorities of many of its shoppers. While Nike had the most engaging post of our top 20. Missguided had the highest total number of engagements for the period.

And while Boohoo, Missguided, ASOS and Gymshark all used competition mechanics to drive their social media engagement, proving that while freebies work for the younger generation of shoppers; brands can still cultivate deeper and meaningful engagement with relevant content that reflects the world we live in as per Nike and Urban Outfitters. Meanwhile Burberry - the only luxury brand making the top 10 - focus on craftsmanship and heritage, while Zara and H&M lead with simplicity.

So what?

What this social media data shows us is that retailers have a job to recognise their customers' state of mind and create content that speaks to those situations. There is no need to be overtly mentioning ‘lockdown’, ‘pandemic’ or ‘corona’. The points do not need to be laboured, the brands that are doing best are simply creating content that serves the customers' needs for entertainment and escapism or that demonstrate authentic care for the world we live in and the issues facing us.

Businesses like Zara, H&M and Burberry excel at social media by staying true to the simplicity of their brands. They post less frequently, but their content is beautifully styled and their messaging reflects hero products. All three of these businesses regularly create content that champions sustainability issues. Nike ensures everything it does is about achievement and breaking limits both in the sporting world and outside of it. Brand identity and authenticity clearly has a role to play in how customers respond and engage with content.  Issues like diversity and sustainability must form not just a core part of brands’ positioning, but also the actions they take in order to win customer loyalty.

Great content does not have to engage everyone. Service is the minimum expectation of the customer on social media and brands should set out to prioritise this as much as their marketing content. For brands like Primark, M&S and Next which make the top 20 for total engagements, but would be beaten if scored solely on engagements per post, we see the importance of timely responses and personal engagement to deliver customer service and build relationships.

Whose social media data will we be keeping an eye on?

As ASOS has acquired Topshop, the High Street favourite has continued to engage customers via social media and narrowly missed a spot in the top 20 through Q1 despite posting minimal content. Take a look at Topshop’s social content of late and you’ll find that it references that items can be shopped at ASOS.com. This speaks to the strength of Topshop’s existing social media audience and its brand recognition. There seems no need to completely incorporate Topshop social media within the ASOS umbrella when its content performs so strongly.
Topshop has always enjoyed social media success and delivered great levels of customer service via social media. It was the same story at Debenhams, especially with the Debenhams Beauty Club.

The opportunity for ASOS to grow Topshop’s social media success and the value it brings a business will not lie in the 20% of social media we see on the surface, which is the content that gets created, but in the 80% that happens behind the scenes.

Asking who ‘owns’ social media within a business, is like asking who owns the customer. Social media adds value to multiple areas across a business. The user case where social media will add more value to Topshop and to Debenhams is in whether it is employed as a business tool and not just a marketing channel. Will they use social media as a listening tool to quantify and qualify customer feedback? Will social media commentary inform customer experience and business strategy? Can ASOS and Boohoo use social media data to cross sell Topshop and the Debenhams brands they stock?

As retail re-opens, we keep our fingers crossed for Q2 and beyond. Maybe* will continue to partner with Retail Week to bring you the latest social media data and reveal what it tells us about consumer trends.

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