How 3 Brands Made the Most of Valentine's Day on Instagram

February 14th. The day of love. Singles awareness day. Galentine's day. Just a regular day like every other. Whatever Valentine's Day means to you, know that it's a BFD on Insta.


Like red, but not quite. Source: @natspencer Instagram

Some people love it, others not so much. Whether or not you’re a fan, Valentine’s Day is a time for cinnamon hearts, pink and lots of sparkles (sparks?) - and it can be hard to avoid. Especially in this day and age where so many channels are readily available to marketers. All said and done, you may as well embrace it.

For brands with related products, it's basically a prerequisite. In a previous lesson, we stressed the importance of riding the holiday wave by using the time to your advantage, resulting in extended Instagram reach. That said, it also becomes imperative to be smart in the delivery of your message, as there is an endless number of brands out there competing in the same ring to gain the public's affections.

So how does a brand steal the content spotlight? For one, focusing on engaging content is generally at the top of the totem pole. The problem is that what constitutes “engaging content” is not only subjective, but also apt to change.

We took a look at three dreamy accounts - @urbanoutfitters, @freepeople, and @forloveandlemons - to see how they created Valentine’s Day magic through their Instas this year. With similar target audiences, we zeroed in on the strategies that they applied to stand out from the pack, leading up to the day of love.

Using a few tools on Dash Hudson’s Instagram marketing platform, we were able to dig deeper into the success of these campaigns, narrowing in specifically on engagement rates.

1. Urban Outfitters

Strategy: Focusing on trends
Average per-post engagement rate: 2.26%

Known for their highly engaging #UOHome content, the retailer is truly a master when it comes to hashtags and UGC. V-Day was no different, as they created the unique #LoveUO to make it rain apropos earned content.

Leading up to February 14th, they published a series of posts using #LoveUO, which included all of the usual suspects: roses, lingerie and multiple (50?) shades of pink. But what crushed it? Heart shaped balloons, obvi. On January 24th, the first balloon post made its appearance and their audience eruptued in double-taps, sending their engagement through the roof.

Love is in the air (literally). 💕🎈 #LoveUO #UOHome

A photo posted by Urban Outfitters (@urbanoutfitters) on

We’re talking an engagement rate of 3.33%, people. That's a whole entire percent above their average. Boom, clap the sound of hearts everywhere.

They clearly took note, as they snuck these balloons in again on February 3rd, hitting an engagement rate of almost 3%. It then came as no surprise that their actual 2/14 post included these extra shiny subjects once more. This time, they totally murdered it, reaching an engagement level of almost 4%.

Hubba hubba.

Happy Valentine's Day! 🎈❤️ Tag someone you love in the comments! #LoveUO

A photo posted by Urban Outfitters (@urbanoutfitters) on

Flowers?! No thank you. We want balloons.

Lesson:
Keep your eye on the types of posts that resonate with your audience and don’t be afraid to do some good ol' fashioned recycling.

2. Free People

Strategy: Leveraging videos
Average per-post engagement rate: 1.77%

Many marketing experts agree that 2016 will be a big year for video. Especially on platforms like Instagram, which offers space for "mini-form" ad creatives. Free People is a prime example of a brand that is on board with this notion, as demonstrated with their beautiful 5-piece Valentine’s Day-themed vids.

As soon as February rolled around, they shared a clip every day of that first week encouraging users to #treatyourself in the caption. Although Free People gave their audience something unique and different, the average overall engagement rate for the videos fell below their average per-post rate, clocking in at 1.12%.

Not every post will be your best post, but it's important to remember that diversity is still a key part of Instagram success.

That said, Instagram will soon be letting users in on video view counts, which will provide brands with an additional way to measure video engagement. In their words: “We believe video views are the best measure of viewer intent.” Agreed.

Treating yourself is not complicated: baths and sparklers.

Lesson:
Videos can be eye-catching, especially when they feature cute pups and babes… but we’ll have to take a rain check on a verdict until view counts are available.

3. For Love and Lemons

Strategy: Offering an insider view
Average per-post engagement rate: 1.17%

LA-based label For Love and Lemons wins points for the uniqueness of their Valentine’s Day Instagram campaign. It included a series of posts featuring their muses, accompanied by Q&As presented in the style of hand-written love letters, each linking to a more detailed blog post.

Super personal, super authentic and super juicy.

Naps, YES. Source: For Love and Lemons Blog

The top post from this campaign featured @beccahiller (“Scandinavian Dream Girl”) and drew in an engagement rate of 1.36%, which sits just above their average rate of 1.17%.

Opera? … @beccahiller knows what’s up.

Lesson:
Brands have the power to provide users with a unique perspective and should take advantage of this. The juicier the better.

Whatever Works For Ya

Creating engaging content is the key to successful campaigns; however, there is no one-size fits all formula. It’s important for brands to test out the waters with new strategies in order to understand whether or not an idea works.

Focusing on trends and offering an insider's perspective both proved effective in the cases above. Having a blog also lent For Love and Lemons an additional channel to move users onto from Instagram. Overall, creativity is important, and the three brands observed herein have all demonstrated that to be a strength with their Love Day content.

Right on time to warm up your winters.


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