With a 60-year heritage, over 350 stores internationally and six online stores in four currencies River Island is a go-to brand for the fashion conscious worldwide. You’d assume a brand this big would have an amazing social media presence, but a quick and dirty look through their social outlets shows that there are certainly some things that they’re doing better than others.
The first question, of course, is what social media outlets are they using? A short scroll through the River Island homepage reveals buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram, as well as larger photo banners inviting customers to ‘like us on Facebook’, ‘follow us on Twitter’ and ‘follow us on Instagram’.
So far, so good. Customers today want and expect to be able to follow and contact their favourite brands through social media, so such a well-rounded and well-promoted presence is a great start – but what are they doing with each outlet to engage with customers? Our by-no-means-exhaustive review gives a snapshot of where River Island is doing well, and where they could improve.
River Island’s Facebook page has a strong following with more than 2 million likes (all figures mentioned in this blog were correct at the time of writing). The posts tend to be product focused with lots of outfits, new ranges and edits being posted, although there are also sale, promotion and new store announcements thrown in too. The amount of likes each post gets varies wildly between around 10 and 1,000 and the number of comments and shares are relatively low.
The content is updated regularly and is very visually appealing; however, there is very little engagement with customers on behalf of the brand. Occasional replies to comments thank people for their feedback or advise them to sign up for the newsletter, but there is very little by way of actual conversation, leaving the page feeling somewhat ‘salesy’ and smacking of scheduled (and then ignored) content. More engagement with customers would potentially make for a more vibrant page as customers would feel like their comments and complaints were being heard.
River Island’s Twitter feed is a much more engaging prospect. Its 318,000 followers view product images, sale and promotion announcements as well as funny and topical messages. There are even retweets from their careers feed – one in particular announces the retirement of a long-serving member of staff – which makes the fashion giant appear much more ‘human’.
Although the number of retweets and favourites is relatively low, there is a lot of engagement with the fashion press, bloggers and customers. They reply to customers who mention River Island in their own tweets, and they retweet instances of River Island in the press. This really helps to create a friendly, conversational feel with a consistent tone of voice that fans of the brand are invited to join in with. Our only criticism is that the more product-focused tweets could be more conversational and a bit less hard-sell.
River Island’s Google+ page is little more than a repository for links to blogs, fashion edits and sale pages on the main site. Despite having more than 192,000 followers and 13 million views, it generates very little by way of +1s and has seemingly no engagement from River Island itself.
Although using Google+ does have advantages in terms of recognised blog authorship, this does seem like a waste of a social media opportunity and could be used more – particularly as a way to engage bloggers with the brand further.
YouTube provides a great opportunity for River Island as a way of hosting dynamic shareable content that can be used on other River Island sites and outlets, as well as by fashion sites and bloggers, who can embed and share the videos themselves.
More than 8,000 people subscribe to River Island’s YouTube channel, giving them access to new TV adverts, promotional videos, styling masterclasses and corporate content. The viewing figures range from the thousands to the tens of thousands, and, although there is no real engagement with customers in the comments section, these numbers show that River Island know what they’re doing when it comes to shareable media.
The River Island Pinterest account feels more like a catalogue than a social media account. The 28,252 followers are offered product images grouped together on trend-based or themed boards. The inclusion of prices adds to the catalogue feel and makes the page appear very ‘salesy’.
The small number of repins and likes reflects the lack of engagement on this outlet and suggests a lack of appeal. Perhaps boards inviting Pinterest users to put together their own River Island outfits might engage customers more and make the account feel more dynamic.
River Island’s youthful style really lends itself to Instagram and this feed feels particularly well-engaged. The 872,000 followers are treated to a feed of product images as well as funny and topical posts, with each post garnering thousands of likes and between tens and hundreds of comments.
Although River Island doesn’t seem to directly engage in the comments, the customers themselves keep the conversation going by tagging their friends in posts they think they’ll like, or by asking their friends if they think a particular outfit might suit them. Our only issue here is that River Island could join in the conversation themselves more, answering questions and perhaps offering styling tips to users wondering what to wear particular items with.
Overall, River Island’s social media presence is something of a mixed bag. Some outlets such as Twitter and Instagram perform particularly well, while others such as Google+ and Pinterest feel a bit like they’re only there because River Island feels they should be.
There is also a feeling of mass scheduling in some places, with the same content appearing across several outlets, despite being best suited to only one or two of them. A more strategic approach might work more smoothly, with content being designed with specific outlets in mind, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.
For more information on social media best practice for fashion brands, or to speak to an expert about getting the best out of your fashion social media campaign call Hit Search on today 0800 011 9226.