10 Ecommerce Brands That Have Nailed Social Media

By Jane Ainsworth on 29th November 2017


10. Gilt

Gilt is a members-only fashion shopping destination that gives followers big savings on retail brands. We rate Gilt for its Instagram feed which is pretty much perfection. Faultless flat-lays and fantastic use of filters are what first caught our attention, but we most love that the posts are fully shoppable. Anything available for purchase is tagged with #LinkinBio, and that link takes you through to a tap-to-buy page where you can shop by Instagram photo. This is not only convenient for the shopper, it’s value for money for Gilt too, costing far less than click-to-shop ads

Could do better: Gilt use Olapic to create their shoppable feeds, but there are cheaper alternatives out there. In addition, whilst there was some evidence of Gilt using influencers to widen its reach, there was very little UGC coming from actual customers. We’d love to see more of that.


9. Screwfix

Top marks for Screwfix for their tone of voice on social which is oh so target market – witty and laddish without being vulgar or boorish. They absolutely get what their audience loves, and hates, and bring the content right back to them. Content also cleverly relates to what they sell without being about what they sell – thus avoiding Product Catalogue Syndrome, something which afflicts many retailers on social. They have crossed the t’s and dotted the I’s on their about us section too, and have an excellent response time.

Could do better: Content is great for engagement, but not so great at traffic driving. We can only assume that a brand doing this well on its BAU content has a first-class traffic driving strategy through dark posts that we can’t see. If not, they need to – and they can find out how by reading the Reach to Revenue post on our Reading Room. More video and moving assets would help the brand to stand out in busy newsfeeds too.


8. Hungry Horse

We will come clean – Hungry Horse (part of Greene King) is one of ours, but it has made our list on its own merit, mainly down to its commitment to building a national brand, whilst staying true to its local communities. The national Hungry Horse Facebook page is the brand’s window to the world, focusing on three hero posts a week that showcase what the brand wants to be known for. Guests are also driven down an awareness, consideration and conversion funnel. As with any brand, showing a return on investment is high on Hungry Horse’s agenda, so we have worked directly with Facebook to utilise in-pub data to better understand the true value of social through a footfall conversion rate.

Could do better: As we type, Facebook location structure isn’t in place but it will be any day now, so watch this space.


7. BT

BT isn’t a brand you might expect to find on the list, but they made our top ten for their use of Twitter. Through @BTCare they respond to customer complaints and queries (and there are very many of these) – giving responses a personal touch, signing off each post with ^name.

Nothing exceptional there you could argue, but it’s the way they have tracked the ROI of social customer service that most impresses us. As of 2014, BT had lowered the cost of its customer service operations by £2m a year. It estimates approximately 600,000 contacts per year are routed via social media instead of more expensive voice methods.

Could do better: Improve customer care on all of your other channels please BT.


6. Boden

Content has gone off the boil a bit of late, but it’s still a strong contender for our top ten. Boden has long had a cute tone of voice and uses the colours synonymous with the brand with to make its mark on non-product related posts. They have a great approach to macro and micro influencer engagement, and clearly understand their ‘mum’ audience.

Could do better: Shorter posts please Boden. We’re too busy to click ‘see more’ – and shorter posts get 23% more interaction.


5. Dunelm

A bit of a cheat as this is another one of ours, but we stand firm – Dunelm fully deserves a place on this list. With a great tone of voice, the brand strikes the right balance between engaging content and a commercial return on its social investment. Fully shoppable Instagram feeds, a dedicated customer service Twitter account, location structure, loads of video and moving assets, a micro influencer marketing strategy, measuring social attribution – there is so much Dunelm does right. The brand is also quick to take advantage of new advertising formats when they become available – 360° immersive video, canvas, Facebook Live and so much more. By reporting on a weekly basis, Dunelm looks at social attribution on a one-day view and 28-day click to give the business a clear visibility of social performance against target.

Could do better: Nope. Couldn’t. Not in our (everso slightly biased) view anyway.


4. Domino’s

Domino’s stands loud and proud in our top ten for its innovative approach to social. This was the brand that gave us tweet-to-order, send an emoji to order and, more recently, a deal with Amazon allowing us to order pizza by voice, using Alexa. In a world where money is needed to make messages travel on social, Domino’s reminds us that brilliance can still create buzz. Their BAU content is reactive, thumbstoppable, witty and wonderful too.

Could do better: Play by the rules Domino’s. ‘Tag a mate to win’ is NOT allowed.


3. Etsy

Etsy is a no-brainer for our top three. A force to be reckoned with in social commerce, it’s the brand’s Pinterest feed we most admire. The account has been extremely well structured, focusing purely on users’ search behaviour – formatting boards around search terms, rather than internal naming conventions.

They have an editorial team who post new pins daily, using both their own products and content from other sites, driven by what is trending on Pinterest. We particularly love their guest pinner programme which is a very clever approach to influencer marketing.

Most of all, they have a commercial eye on Pinterest. Website visitors can save items they like to their Pinterest boards at the click of a button, and saved items contain the item name and price.

Could do better: Etsy does very little to cross reference the Pinterest account from other social media channels. We think it would be great if they did a ‘most pinned’ product of the month showcase on Facebook and Instagram, as a completely new take on UGC.


2. Paddy Power

Paddy Power dwarfs its rivals on social media with over 1.5million followers on Facebook alone. They make our top-three for their content which is, without exception, totally and utterly relevant to their audience at all times. Their brilliant, cheeky tone of voice (which pushes the boundaries as you would expect) comes through in everything – including banter with fans and followers. Paddy Power shows us that content is king.

We also love their text only updates on Facebook. We are told that video is the way to create thumbstoppable content but Paddy Power actually standout for the simplicity of their content. Sometimes less is more.

Could do better: We’re being really picky here but fewer hashtags on Instagram. The platform recommends three, and Paddy Power can sometimes triple that.


1. Burberry

You’ve probably got a head start to coming up with social content if your brand is Burberry but they lead our top ten for their consistently innovative approach to social. They were the first fashion brand to live stream their London Fashion Week show as far back as 2012 and one of the first to use Twitter’s ‘buy now’ function in 2014. In 2015, fans could tweet @Burberry using the hashtag #Tweetcam to receive a photograph from the Burberry show, shot and sent live from the catwalk, personalised with their own Twitter handle.

And let us not forget the first ever 24-hour fashion campaign, shot by Mario Testino, and published on Snapchat. Exclusively created whilst Burberry crafted their more regular spring / summer 2016 output, the beautiful Testino images were only up for 24 hours before disappearing again into the ether

Could do better: We don’t think so.


The author: Jane Ainsworth is managing director of WPR. She has over 20 years’ experience in developing and delivering communications strategies for retail brands including Dunelm, Tesco, Mothercare, John Lewis, Bullring, Beaverbrooks and Westfield.