Forever21 and H&M Conquer Fast-Fashion Social Media

New Research Identifies Winning and Losing Strategies for Brands on Social Media and Across the Web

H&M and Forever21 are the most successful social media brands in the hyper-competitive fast-fashion industry, according to a research report released by ShareIQ, the visual content performance platform for brands.

The analysis digs into the data for the first three quarters of 2017 for the top brands in the fast-fashion category in the US: H&M, Forever21, Uniqlo, Gap, Old Navy, Topshop/Topman, Zara, Mango and American Apparel. The report focuses on how these brands share visual content on social media platforms, and how successfully they get consumers to engage with content across Pinterest, Instagram and across the web.

Among the report’s highlights, ShareIQ found that H&M has about 20 times the content performance of the lowest-performing brands such as Mango, Gap and American Apparel, measured by engagements per image (EPI):

  • H&M – 974 engagements per image (EPI)
  • Topshop/Topman – 596 EPI
  • Forever21 – 397 EPI
  • Zara – 190 EPI
  • Uniqlo – 161 EPI
  • Old Navy – 70 EPI
  • Mango – 52 EPI
  • Gap – 48 EPI
  • American Apparel – 41 EPI

Fast-fashion is a critical growth category, outpacing other sectors in the approximately $220 billion US fashion industry. The ShareIQ analysis in the US, across Pinterest, Instagram and the web found that successfully competing for attention in this market depends on quality of the content and especially the seeding strategy.

“People engage with and buy from brands that share compelling visual content in authentic ways,” said Brian Killen, founder and CEO of ShareIQ.

“The brands that are winning and getting real ROI on Instagram, Pinterest and other social platforms put exciting ‘lifestyle’-type images in the feeds of real influencers who get high engagement — not just celebrities. And, we’re seeing marketers recognize this opportunity to create and target new audiences from those who engage with their content and convert sharers and likers into buyers,” he added.

The report shows that imagery with varied backgrounds is more engaged with than “static” lookbook-style photos and brands with smart seeding strategies see a greater return on their visual content investment. For example:

Forever21 had a tremendous 53 million Instagram engagements from just 1017 posts.
H&M achieved a whopping 39 million Instagram engagements from only 486 posts.
Zara, however, got just 1.9 million engagements from 1700 images.
The tale was different on Pinterest, with Zara getting more than five times the number of repins (shares) per image as Forever21.

The data also show that the secret to social media engagement isn’t follower count:

Zara has a huge 16.6 million follower count on Instagram but only converted that into 12.7 million engagements; Forever21 has 13.5 million followers and with a smart strategy leveraged that into 53 million engagements. H&M, Zara, and Forever21 have about same number of followers on Pinterest, but don’t convert that into high Pinterest engagement. Forever21 still does better than the rest. Uniqlo, Mango and everyone else have small numbers of followers and negligible Pinterest engagement.