STUDY: Big Retailers’ Strategies for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

How do big retailers market via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? Julian Gottke, digital public-relations manager at social analytics provider Quintly, examined the strategies of the top three retailers on each social network.

MallHow do big retailers market via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? Julian Gottke, digital public-relations manager at social analytics provider Quintly, examined the strategies of the top three retailers on each social network to find out.

The top three retailers by engagement rate on Facebook were Nordstrom, West Elm and IKEA, and Gottke described their Facebook marketing strategies as follows:


  • 97 percent photos, 3 percent videos.
  • 96.58 percent of its interaction were likes, with shares and comments making up the rest. Gottke pointed out that for Amazon, in contrast, only 41 percent of its interactions are likes, adding that Nordstrom has one of the lowest share percentages of the 26 retailers it analyzed.
  • Nearly all user inquiries are responded to within two hours of posting.
  • Posts are short (two to 12 words), with shortened links.
  • The last 20 posts analyzed (19 photos and one video) drew an average of 7,155 link clicks.
  • Engagement with videos is lower than the average for retailers.
  • There were no major shifts based on the day of the week.

West Elm:

  • Its posts were slightly longer, but still 20 words and under.
  • Custom links were included with every post.
  • There was a huge engagement spike on one of its photo posts, which drew 57 likes and two comments Feb. 22, and 6,000 likes and 102 comments the next day.
  • Posts never went up before 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday was the day of the week with the highest engagement.


  • 72 percent links, 12 percent photos, 15 percent videos.
  • Likes and link clicks were post-specific, which resulted in peaks.
  • Links were not always implemented using
  • Interactions per day were similar, with Thursday bringing the lowest total.

The top three retailers by engagement rate on Twitter were Target Style, Macy’s and Kohl’s.

Target Style:

  • Fewer followers than the competition.
  • Double the engagement rates of parent Target, as well as Macy’s, Kohl’s and Sephora.
  • 2,700 retweets on 300 tweets, with an average of five tweets per day.
  • Most tweets included colorful, high-contrast images.
  • An average of five daily replies to users.
  • Interaction was event-dependent, driven during the time period studied by Gottke by the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes.


  • Mainly uses Twitter for interacting with and responding to followers.
  • Tweets an average of 3.5 times per day, responding to roughly one-half of mentions.
  • Events also drive peaks in engagement.
  • Most shared tweets contain hashtags, links, pictures and mentions.


  • Extensive interactions with customers, in a nice tone, but does not respond to all mentions.
  • Every tweet contains images, mostly colorful, sometimes low-contrast.
  • Uses seasonal hashtags, such as #spring and #easter.

As for Instagram, the top three retailers in terms of engagement were Target, Kohl’s and IKEA.


  • Averaged one post per day.
  • Averaged 10,000 likes per photo, with very colorful content.
  • Not using hashtags regularly.
  • No videos.
  • No use of photo filters.
  • Consistent interaction rate.


  • Two posts per day.
  • Use of the #kohls hashtag to bundle offers, as well as seasonal hashtags, such as #UnlockSpring.
  • The #UnlockSpring campaign shows off a catalog of spring dresses.
  • 100 percent pictures.


  • Mainly posts off-topic content.
  • Mostly bright photos, no filters.
  • High engagement rates at around 6 p.m.
  • No hashtag strategy.

Gottke concluded:

In a nutshell, we can say that all of these retailers are interacting in trending topics such as #Oscars or #GoldenGlobes to amplify their reach utilizing the buzz of specific events. As seen in the dashboard we used for this analysis, the peaks at certain dates show that this is working well. As well as that, common hashtags such as #ootd are used frequently, trying to reach people who are not (yet) part of the follower-base. As seen on Kohl’s Instagram channel, it is possible to use hashtags not just for trying to amplify reach, but also for bundling posts in one overview, creating a catalog for clients.

Readers: What did you think of Quintly’s findings?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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