The 11 Best Retail Brands on Social Media

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

By Jillian Gordon, a contributor for the Underground Group
4-minute read

In short:

  • Social media is a main part, if not THE main part, of the customer journey for retailers. Thus, retail brands are a prime breeding ground for social media marketing strategies.

  • Top retailers on social range from fast-food brands like KFC to clothing retailers like H&M.

  • Their most viral campaigns of the past couple years provide inspiration for retail brands and others looking to raise their social games. 

Years ago, it didn’t take more than a cat playing a keyboard to go viral online, but times have changed. Today, propelling a campaign to viral status is marketing #goals, and retailers everywhere are scrambling to capitalize on ever-shifting social media trends. 

So what’s the secret to copious amounts of followers, likes and shares? Here are 11 retailers who are totally nailing their social strategies.  

1. Wayfair 

When Instagram launched its shoppable post update last year, home goods giant Wayfair made the most of it by posting shoppable design photos that immediately funneled viewers to Wayfair's checkout page, where they could shop the items in the photo. The savvy move more than doubled Wayfair’s site traffic from social this past year. 

2. Glossier

This millennial-favored makeup brand created a paradise for selfie enthusiasts last year with a series of pop-ups and retail stores reflecting its “beauty in real life" tag. The impressively surreal spaces included a replica of Arizona’s Antelope Canyon, which users couldn’t stop posting on Instagram.

3. Spotify

As 2017 came to an end, the music streaming platform debuted its “#2018 Goals” campaign. A series of hyperlocal billboards and paid social ads leveraged user data to showcase listening habits as New Year’s resolutions, and the ads shared like wildfire on social. Then, in 2018, Spotify integrated directly with Instagram, allowing users to add Spotify songs into their posts.

4. Charmin 

Just because you’re a toilet paper brand doesn’t mean you can’t flush the competition on social, at least according to Charmin. The brand continually garners Twitter followers and prompts engagement by capitalizing on--what else?--toilet humor. 

5. H&M

H&M has tapped micro-influencers, who have fewer but more engaged followers, to get the word out about its latest launches. As a result, the clothing retail brand generated a whopping 39 million Instagram engagements with just 486 posts in 2017. Micro-influencers also inform H&M’s brand decisions via the Instagram polling feature, a free way to conduct customer surveys.

6. Weight Watchers (WW)

The weight-loss brand snagged social media star DJ Khaled as its 2018 social ambassador in hopes of tapping into a younger (and possibly more male) audience. Social shares increased 6 percent upon signing Khaled. 

7. KFC

The fried chicken favorite proves that details count for something, even on social. KFC’s Twitter account went viral in late 2017 when it was discovered that the brand only followed 11 people (all five Spice Girls and six people named Herb). A follower put it together: The brand is famous for a recipe of "11 herbs and spices." When KFC confirmed the discovery, it earned over 2,000 Twitter comments. Since then, it continues to come up with marketing stunts aimed at social.

8. OkCupid 

The dating site’s "DTF" campaign (a play on words that was redefined to mean "Down to Fall Head Over Heels" and other new acronyms) earned big points with the LGBT community and racked up plenty of Instagram posts, boosting social mentions 50 percent.

9. Wendy's

Twitter trolling isn’t new, but it’s downright entertaining when it happens between two fast-food brand competitors. This past year, Wendy’s showed some teeth by (hilariously) trolling heavyweight McDonalds’ Twitter account with a series of witty quips, earning them attention and new followers.

10. GoPro

If ever there was a brand that could leverage user-generated content, it's GoPro. The action camera and editing software company now offers cash prizes for the best user videos shot with GoPro cameras and posted to Instagram using the #GoPro hashtag. 

11. Jenni Kayne

The lifestyle brand may or may not have anticipated the power of its first-ever billboard campaign, which featured a model breastfeeding her baby. The forward-thinking ads quickly went viral: Organic posts of the billboard reached 4 million people, and the brand saw a 1,300-percent increase in user-generated content week over week. 


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