Bergdorf Goodman is the King of Social Media Holiday Content

You're all up to date with the Instagram holiday content trends and have adjusted your gallery accordingly. You've sharpened your strategy and possess all the right tools to measure its performance.

But you're probably thinking, I'll never be as good as Bergdorf's.

No matter how far you've gotten on your holiday shopping list (or if you've even put pencil to paper), the city will soon be transformed into a seasonal wonderland. Christmas tree vendors will set up their sidewalk shops, menorahs will be placed in windows ready to be lit, and of course, Manhattan's iconic department stores will unveil their annual holiday windows. No longer just a simple marketing initiative, the windows are the work of creative masterminds, and their shimmering contents transfix the view of locals and tourists alike until the season comes to a close in the beginning of the new year. Today, one iconic Fifth Avenue name — @bergdorfs — unveils their offering, titled "Destination Extraordinary." They come from the mind of the store's senior director of visual presentation, David Hoey, who cites the work of Henri Rousseau, 12th-century Chinese watercolors and dioramas commonly seen in natural history museums as his inspiration. Here, a peek at one of the store's windows before its official unveiling.

A photo posted by T: The NYTimes Style Magazine (@tmagazine) on

The "official" start of the festive season is relative to each person. It depends on their location, what they celebrate, who they're with, and so on. Some say it's marked by the first snowfall, while others are all about the return of the Starbucks red cup, the annual televised Victoria’s Secret Fashion show, or even the Black Friday weekend kickoff to the holiday-shopping-deal-snagging madness.

For the people of New York City and hordes of visitors from all over the world, yuletide rumblings can be felt as soon as the Rockettes start promoting their Christmas Spectacular and once the Rockefeller Center tree lands on the Plaza. It kind of makes it hard not to get in the mood when the lavishly chic city holiday party season begins. Even for all the Scrooges out there.

Yet another insanely glam occasion to mark the commencement of seasonal merriment in New York? The unveiling of the holiday windows on Fifth Avenue. It's a magical scene✨. But let's not pretend like there isn't a standout... Year after year, the public awaits with bated breath to discover what David Hoey, better known as the mastermind behind Bergdorf Goodman’s spectacular displays, has done with the windows. The 2016 theme was Destination Extraordinary. Can you even 😍.

This is Hoey's twentieth year with the world famous department store, and this milestone was commemorated with a bang. The world he created in each window was one of pure extravagant fantasy. His ability to draw in the crowds and produce that much-craved Wow Factor is unparalleled. All the ingredients are there to make the passersby not only double-take, but also fully stop-and-marvel - custom made designer dresses, commissioned works of art, overall glitzy contents that telegraph glamor and reverie, the list goes on.

Hoey never fails to disappoint, constantly turning out jaw-dropping displays that outdo the previous year's project, transfixing locals and tourists alike. While the #BGwindows are a total sensation in the real world, they also go beyond Fifth Avenue and come to life in the digital space. Real talk: without Instagram fanfare, does it really matter?

A lot of brands have a hard time standing out during the ultra-competitive holiday season, which is why developing a robust social strategy should be of top priority. While social media has been a real sticking point with the luxury industry at large, Bergdorf Goodman has done a great job at recognizing the power of these platforms, and been able to use them to their advantage. Which is exactly what the department store did to amplify their presence and engagement around their holiday windows.

Let's examine how this all played out on Instagram.

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like...

On the day of the big reveal, November 15th, the @bergdorfs account growth spiked slightly, adding over 1k new followers in 24 hours. It's important to remember that the department store is already a fan fav on Insta, gaining over 22k followers over the last four weeks.
bergdorf goodman follower growth instagram marketing strategy

The Bergdorf Goodman team has been using Instagram to turn their world-famous window displays into a competitive social media holiday strategy by using the tools at their disposal. One word: hashtags🃏. Hashtags can seem like a tired method to garner more reach, but as we’ve seen in the past, they can be very effective if used strategically.

The folks over at Bergdorf's ran with three hashtags this season, enabling them to rally approximately 1,000 pieces UGC and put their reach well into the millions. Although one thing to note is that the brand also uses these hashtags, making these impressions of lower quality than a tag or @ mention.

Let’s break it down.

  • #BGHoliday

The #BGHoliday hashtag was the most successful of the three, probably because it's the most all-encompassing. It reached over 4.6 million users through 411 posts in the past month. As one would expect, the day of the unveiling yielded the highest numbers.

Bergdorf goodman bgholiday hashtag instagram reach.png
On November 15th, #BGHoliday saw a reach of over 1 million. NBD.

  • #BGWindows

The #BGWindows hashtag came in second in order of effectiveness, which doesn't come as a surprise since it's the most literal one of all. It got the most buzz on the 15th, actually outdoing #BGHoliday by over 30k impressions, and almost double the posts. However, despite a few small peaks over the course of the last 4 weeks, it kind of died off around the end of November. This might be due to its windows-only specificity.

Bergdorf goodman bgwindows hashtag instagram reach
#BGWindows started off with a bang on the 15th and then saw little to nothing the rest of the period.

  • #DestinationExtraordinaryatBG

The #DestinationExtraordinaryatBG hashtag is very peculiar to say the least. Besides being a mouthful to say (let alone to type out), it was the least employed and engaged-around of all three, reaching just under 2 million users over the course of 4 weeks. While the hashtag had great intentions - Destination Extraordinary is an enticing name - it was just much too long. Can you imagine how many UGC posts they’re missing because of a typo somewhere in there? Yeah.

#DestinationExtraordinaryatBG did see a small spike on November 27th... But it was due to Bergdorfs posting a photo of their windows themselves. 😏 Bergdorf goodman desitnationextrardinaireatbg hashtag instagram reach

When looking at the performance of each hashtag, it's safe to say that Bergdorf Goodman could have achieved better results by simply putting all of their efforts into a single one rather than having all of their holiday UGC spread across three. It would have also made it much easier to find and repost relevant content. Keeping it simple is a tried-and-true recipe for success.

Location, Location, Location

The Bergdorf’s DNA is rooted in their Fifth Avenue flagship, and their holiday window UGC never leaves any doubt as to where the photos are being taken. But when users are geotagging the store, it adds another degree of exposure to their Instagram account. We thought we'd check out what kind of reach it received on the night the windows were unveiled.

On November 15th, the Bergdorf Goodman geotag reached an audience of nearly 5 million people through 80 posts. That's more reach in one single day than any of the hashtags. Location is key, friends!

bergdorf goodman geotag organic reach instagram marketing
On the big day, the Bergdorf Goodman geotag reached ~5 million people which is double that of what they typically see.

If you Build it, They Will Come

It’s become impossible to go anywhere without catching people taking photos of something to post online - latte art, Sunday brunch, #OOTDs, foliage, and more. It's only natural that folks would therefore flock the photogenic BG window displays.

While Bergdorf Goodman’s use of original hashtags helped them reap some much-deserved attention, it's nothing compared to the reach other accounts can help them achieve. Being tagged or @ mentioned by influential users is one of the most efficient ways to grow your audience and clout on Instagram.

The @bergdorfs account reached almost 22 million users organically through photo tags or @ mentions over the course of the last month. Holidays at BG are a UGC goldmine.
Bergdorf goodman instagram organic reach ugc earned content marketing

Throughout this prime organic reach period, we noticed a surge in impressions on December 1st. Intriguing! When we looked into the UGC posted that day, we found that their Destination Extraordinary windows had been featured by @nytimesfashion. That'll give any account a boost 👊.

The average consumer might not be brave enough to enter NYC department stores selling $3,500 Gucci bags or $800 Alexander Wang pumps, but any pedestrian can press his or her nose to the windowpane at @lordandtaylor, @bergdorfs, @barneysny, @tiffanyandco or @bloomingdales. And during the holiday season, press their noses to the windows they do. On peak days, as many as half a million people have been counted making their way past the #holidaywindows at @saks. This year, nearly 13,000 feet of linear garland outline the facade at @saks’s blockwide Fifth Avenue flagship store, and “Nutcracker” characters frolic in a series of 6 whimsical windows. @dina_litovsky photographed these adults gawking at some of the many splendors on display in #Saks’s holiday windows. Follow @nytimesfashion to see more windows.

A photo posted by The New York Times (@nytimes) on

The Bergdorf Goodman account has this post by @nytimesfashion to thank for their rather large spike in reach.

Thanks to a little New York Times shoutout, Bergdorf's was able to reach a broader audience, which underlines the purpose of using influencers to gain exposure. When influential accounts post about you, it’s likely you'll experience a growth spurt. The best way to accomplish this? Give them something extraordinary to post about (ha ha).

When it's all said and done, it behooves smart marketers to cater to the Holidays when it comes to content strategy. Investing time and resources into social campaigns can mean the difference between growth and loss. Gulp. Time to get in on some of the top performing festive content trends!

In Bergdorf Goodman's case, they were able to use their annual holiday windows phenomenon to create seasonal buzz for their already famous company on social. This effectively enabled them to separate their high-end New York City department store image from the fact that they are a bona fide holiday destination for an even broader audience in search of some holiday magic. Thanks to Instagram, they were able draw in a crowd they may not typically see... Because democratizing Christmastime is really getting into the seasonal spirit 🎄.

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