Back-to-school posts don’t make the grade on Facebook

As summer gives way to fall, that means it’s back to school time. However, recent analysis by Expion shows that back-to-school promotional posts on Facebook tended to perform below average. The company studied the Facebook and Instagram campaigns from June 15 through Sept. 15 by three major brands: Target, Walgreens and J.C. Penney, finding that among those brands, back-to-school content performed 7 percent worse than average and 9 percent worse than non-school related posts.

Overall, back-to-school posts did fairly well on Instagram, but didn’t really move the needle on Facebook. In that two-month span, 19 percent of the posts by the three companies were back-to-school related and generated 18 percent of the total fan actions.

Target did best of all, generating 45 percent of the conversation on back-to-school posts, while J.C. Penney was responsible for 31 percent and Walgreens 23.5 percent. Walgreens posted the most back-to-school content — 30 percent more than Target and 51 percent more than J.C. Penney.

Walgreens’ back-to-school posts were the least effective, performing 67 percent lower than average on Facebook. However, posts where they promoted something for a good cause did 300 percent better than average.

Expion Chief Marketing Officer Mike Heffring talked with Inside Facebook about the performance of back-to-school posts, noting that many times, they just got lost in the noise of crowded News Feeds:

With Facebook overall, you start looking at it as a broadcasting channel, with a lot of content going through. So one of the things you look at is that 19 percent of all the posts that were done were back-to-school. They’re fighting, just like with any other broadcast channel, with all of the other things that come up. 80 percent of all the other posts weren’t back-to-school, so I think one element to some of this is that it just gets lost in all of the other posts. I think that’s especially true for Walgreens, which is putting out 250 company posts in that time period. It’s easy for other posts to get lost.

While back-to-school content may not have done well on Facebook, it was well-received on Instagram. Posts on Instagram, according to Expion, were seeing engagement rates as high as 18 to 25 times higher than Facebook, but that’s largely due to scale. Expion also offered that younger moms are more active on Instagram, which could’ve led to more interaction.

Overall on Instagram, 32 percent of the brands’ posts in the two-month span were back-to-school related and generated 43 percent of the total fan actions, performing 37 percent better than the average post and 40 percent better than non-back-t0-school content.

Once again, Target and J.C. Penney performed well with back-to-school related photos on Instagram, generating 81 and 18 percent of the conversation, respectively. Walgreens just generated 1 percent of the conversation on Instagram.

Expion notes that even though J.C. Penney’s fanbase size is just a fraction of Target’s, the clothing retailer did fairly well on both platforms, finding a groove with fashion-based back-to-school posts with the #FirstDayLook hashtag.

For Target, the back-to-school posts that did best were community-minded, focusing on the Give with Target initiative. Expion found that the #GiveWithTarget hashtag generated 74 percent of the back-to-school related fan engagements and performed 61 percent better than the average post.

Readers: How did your back-to-school Facebook and Instagram campaigns perform?