Deep Inside Winning Earned Media Strategies

Social media is a crazy competitive playground with marketers at brands large and small embracing earned media marketing to build engagement. With the new advanced data tools available, anyone placing bets on social media or influencer marketing has no excuse for lacking the insights about what gets higher consumer engagement. We find that deep dives into competitive categories can help brands win by learning what’s working, what’s not and why. Have a look at some recent best practices we’ve uncovered for red-hot market sectors:

Cosmetics Brands

In an analysis of top cosmetics brands, Maybelline had very high engagement across the web, outclassing inconsistent social media marketing strategies by the competition on platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr.

Maybelline has had a smart strategy to get high interaction with their visual content online, keeping a baseline of fans engaged and then building spikes of excitement with new and influencer content — earning engagement with new audiences. For example, the brand saw a huge viral boost after posting an image from influencer model Adriana Lima that drove 290,000 engagements on Instagram.

As well, Maybelline’s most successful Pinterest image got more than 28,000 engagements through a combination of factors: the right type of “artistic” and unique photo of a makeup color palette and the right timing, around Valentine’s Day.

Boot Brands

Timberland had very high engagement across the web, beating other brands on key fashion-centric social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook.

We looked at competition on social media for top footwear brands for whom peak shopping occurs during wicked winter weather: Timberland, UGG, Sorel, Wolverine and L.L.Bean. Of the group, Timberland had the highest number of likes on Instagram and reactions on Facebook — key measures of brand engagement.

Iconic duck boot brand L.L.Bean, cross-posted 24 pieces of content on Instagram and Facebook in January, maximizing the value of content and the ROI of their earned media programs. In contrast, the top brand, Timberland, posts less of their Instagram content on Facebook, posting just seven images on both channels in January, at the icy bottom of the winter. By neglecting Facebook, Timberland is leaving content value on the table. L.L.Bean maximizes their earned media value by re-posting successful Instagram images on Facebook and vice versa and reducing the cost of producing new content.

Fashion Retail Brands

We recently examined content engagement on Facebook and Instagram for top retail fashion and lifestyle brands Diesel, Ralph Lauren, ModCloth, Free People, Abercrombie & Fitch and Urban Outfitters.

While traditional brand champ Ralph Lauren has nearly the same number (7.5 million) of Instagram followers, Urban Outfitters (7.7 million followers) got nearly six times the Instagram engagement as Ralph Lauren. Urban Outfitters is simply masterful at creating compelling content, timing content distribution, and driving consumers to like and share social media posts.

Urban Outfitters simply crushed the competition on Instagram, racking up 26.4 million likes since the start of the year.

Urban Outfitters simply crushed the competition on Instagram, racking up 26.4 million likes since the start of the year. The belle of the ball had a whopping 47 times the engagement as bottom-of-the-barrel lifestyle brand Diesel. And, while Urban Outfitters and Free People may be under the same corporate umbrella, Urban Outfitters still got more than 4.5 times the engagement.

The top player saw serious engagement spikes from posts like this one promoting a line of Vans sneakers. The Instagram post also tagged the shoe brand and was its best performing content this year, racking up over 319,000 engagements. Interestingly, the image was also pinned on Pinterest 46 times but not by the right influencers who could have increased engagement on the platform.

Since the start of the year, Urban Outfitters tore it up on social media in general but on Facebook it didn’t crush competitors in such a big way. However, the brand did garner 3.6 times the engagement of Facebook loser Ralph Lauren, which kept pace with other bottom-dwellers like ModCloth, Diesel and Abercrombie & Fitch

One highlight for Diesel, however, was their recent collaboration with soccer team A.C. Milan. The smart brand and marketing team-up added some serious fire to the brand’s social fire, driving engagement with #dieselXacmilan across social media channels and traffic to the brand website from a high-performing post that contributed more than 13,000 Facebook reactions to Diesel’s total.

Fast Food Brands

A comparison of Starbucks versus Dunkin’ Donuts found that while Starbucks simply crushes on Instagram, Dunkin’ does much better on Facebook. Starbucks had only five times Dunkin’ Donuts’ Facebook engagement. Overall, Starbucks does better on social media because:

Starbucks has a much bigger fan base with more than 12 times the Instagram followers and 2.4 times Dunkin’ Donuts’ Facebook fans.

While both brands repost user-generated content, Starbucks reposts content from social media users with much bigger followings; Starbucks works with a lot of powerful influencers to create “art directed” stylish content designed to go viral.

While both brands are international and have numerous social media accounts, some of Starbucks’ have huge follower counts.

However, the Munchkin-making champ is trying out new types of content and promotions to increase consumer engagement. Since the start of the year, Dunkin’s top-performing Facebook image content has been an on-brand post showcasing their new partnership for Girl Scout cookie inspired coffee flavors. The content is also a rare example of Dunkin’ cross-posting their images from Instagram to Facebook, etc., which is a strategy that many brands find successful. This post has garnered 3,700 reactions on Facebook and more than 17,000 engagements on Instagram thus far.

Starbucks’ content strategy is very much targeted toward Instagram engagement and much of their most viral imagery focuses on their colorful seasonal and special occasion drinks, with some shots showcasing food products. Since the start of the year, Starbucks has been “chasing the Unicorn,” seeking to follow up the smash social sensation of last year with a new Crystal Ball Frappuccino and huge product launches like their #BlondeEspresso (a post about which garnered 47,000 reactions on Facebook in January).

Jonathan Gardner

Jonathan Gardner

Director of Marketing at ShareIQ
Jonathan Gardner is a veteran marketing and communications executive and director of marketing at ShareIQ, the visual content performance platform for brands. Follow him on Twitter @thejongardner.
Jonathan Gardner

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