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7 Social Media Trends in the Australian Retail Industry

An analysis of 175 million user interactions across 179,587 pieces of brand content generated by 15 retail brands from Australia

Around the world, traditional retail is being encroached upon by e-commerce startups. As the online and offline worlds fight it out for a share of the customer’s wallet, the battleground can be found on social media. Retail chains are coming up with new strategies and adapting to declining organic reach in order to engage their audience and find new customers.

For this report, Unmetric looked at the top 15 online and offline retail chains in Australia by the number of fans on social media. Data was analyzed from 2013 to the second quarter of 2017 to uncover seven trends impacting the industry. The retail chains featured in this report are as follows.

All data and charts sourced from: Unmetric Social Media Intelligence Platform

Where is the Growth on Social Media for Australian Retail?

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Retail brands have the largest average audience size on Facebook — almost twice as large as Instagram. Brands have continued to grow their audience size at a brisk 6.4% in the first half of 2017, indicating that the social network should remain the primary focus for brands for the foreseeable future. Instagram has been building a reputation for allowing retail and fashion brands to reach the millennial and Gen-Z audience. This is perhaps why the growth rate is the highest on this social network. With the lowest audience growth rate for brands, Twitter appears to be fading away, which is confirmed by many trends identified in this report.

How to Quickly Boost Your Instagram Engagement?

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In 2017, the average Australian retail brands on Instagram generated 1,060 interactions per post. As many as 30% of these posts do not contain a hashtag. Our analysis found that brands could easily increase the number of interactions by an average of 10% by adding hashtags to their posts. Posts which included two hashtags saw 27% more interaction than average.

Another easy way that Australian retail brands can boost their engagement is by using emojis. 63% of posts by these brands included one or more emoji. When an emoji was not present in the content, a post generated an average of 949 interactions. When emojis were used, this jumped to 1,107 interactions per post. The optimal number of emojis in a post in terms of interactions was found to be three.

What are Australian Retail Brands Talking About on Social Media?

To answer this question, we used Unmetric Discover, a searchable database of over 500,000,000 pieces of brand content published over the last five years. The four most popular topics are shown here.

SEASONS

300,900 Posts

Seasons

The most popular topic for retail chains in Australia was Seasons. Woolworths’ organic post about the “Aussie summer starter pack” generated a lot of engagement with over 26,000 reactions.

RECIPES

282,000 Posts

Recipes

Displaying delicious food helped several brands grab attention and engagement on Facebook. With close to 600,000 views, Cole’s post on turmeric chai latte was shared more than 1,900 times.

Seasons were an exceptionally popular talking point for retail brands around the world as entire campaigns could be built around them. New collections were also popular, and many brands had something to say around Australia Fashion Week. Promotional offers worked well for retail brands, particularly when they encouraged user generated content.

NEW COLLECTION

266,900 Posts

New collection

New collections was the third most popular topic for retail chains. Big W’s organic post about their partnership with Warner Bros Entertainment received 6,500 likes.

PROMOTIONAL OFFER

61,500 Posts

Promotional offer

Most brands used contests, giveaways and sweepstakes as strategies to engage their fans. Target, who encouraged followers to post creative captions for the Mother’s Day image shown above garnered 2,493 comments.

Trends

7 Trends Impacting the Australian Retail Industry on Social Media

1. Retail Brands are Publishing Less Content Than Ever

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Since Q3 of 2015, retail brands have been publishing less and less content across social networks. At its height, brands were publishing an average of 4.7 pieces of content each per day on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In Q2 of 2017, this dropped to an average of 0.61 pieces of content per day. The social network that has been affected the most from this drop in brand content is Twitter. This excludes retweets and brand replies to tweets. Brands now publish 64% less content on this social network than they did in 2013. In 2015, brands had doubled the amount of content they published on Instagram compared to 2013, but this has now fallen back to 2013 levels.

  1. In 2016, Kogan published 88% less content (34) than it did in 2014 (291) and so far in 2017, it has published 99% (4) less content than it did in 2014
  2. In the first half of 2017, 7 Eleven has published 10 times the amount of tweets than it did in 2016

2. Video Content Bucks the Downward Trend

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While brands are publishing less content than ever on social networks, they continue to double down on the production of video content. Indications are that 2017 will surpass 2016 in terms of total videos published. Every social network analysed has seen a rise in the amount of videos being published. The reason for the rise in video content shouldn’t be a surprise for any social media analyst: videos generate greater Reach than other post types.

  1. Showpo accounted for 55% of the 2,429 videos published on Facebook in 2017
  2. 70% of Woolworths’ content on Facebook in 2017 were videos, far higher than any other brand

3. Videos Generate More Than Double the Interactions Per Post

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Brands are posting twice the number of photos on Facebook compared to videos, but videos get more than twice the number of interactions. Links have fallen out of favour amongst Australian retail brands and make up just 6.5% of total content published and account for less than 4.5% of all interactions. Statuses — or plain text updates have almost passed into obscurity. This is not a surprise as they have garnered an average of just 46 interactions per post in 2017. Brands need to put their content efforts behind what generates the greatest amount of engagement.

  1. Woolworths generated an average of 9,100 interactions on each of its link posts in 2017. This was 19 times higher than the average link post
  2. St Frock accounted for 48% of all photos in 2017, generating an average of 2,173 interactions per post which was slightly below average

4. Facebook Dominates in Terms of User Engagement

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Although total interactions per post have steadily increased since 2015, this growth is being driven by Facebook alone. Interactions per post are up by 317% since 2013. On Instagram, user interactions per post have dropped by 49%. In 2013, posts generated an average of 2,000 interactions each, but this has dropped to 1,000 interactions in 2017. Twitter has been one of the worst social networks for brands to receive engagement. In 2017, brand tweets (which doesn’t include retweets or replies) saw an average of just 10 interactions per tweet.

  1. Myer had one of the highest interactions per tweet in 2017 with each tweet garnering an average of 66 interactions
  2. Between them, Showpo and St Frock accounted for 90% of all Facebook interactions across all the brands analysed in 2017 (51% and 39% respectively)

5. More than Half of the Content on Facebook is Promoted

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Even as the amount of content brands publish on Facebook has fallen, the number of posts that are being promoted has increased significantly. By the end of Q2 of 2017, 62% of Facebook content was promoted — up from just 17% in Q2 of 2016. Today, content that has been promoted by Australian retail brands on Facebook accounts for a staggering 98% of all the recorded user interactions. This explains the 317% increase in interactions per post as discussed in trend 4.

  1. Woolworths, 7 Eleven and Target Australia all promoted more than 90% of their content on Facebook in 2017
  2. Jay Jays only promoted 18% of their content in 2017, but their promoted content generated 14,500% more interactions than their organic content

6. Twitter is Losing Importance as a Customer Service Channel

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For many industries and regions, Twitter is an essential platform to provide immediate, real-time customer service. For Australian retail brands, using Twitter as a customer service platform peaked in 2014 and has been on the decline since. In 2014, each brand responded to nearly 3,000 tweets in four hours or less. Although we’re only half-way through 2017, the downward trend in the number of replies and the increase in Average Reply Time (ART) indicates that Twitter has lost its lustre for retail brands. On average, customers have to wait almost a day to get a response.

  1. In 2017, Harvey Norman was the fastest to respond on Twitter, replying to 268 tweets in an average of 4 hours 55 minutes per tweet
  2. Nearly 20% of The Iconic’s 221 replies in 2017 included an apology, the highest for any brand

7. Brands are Publishing Fewer and Shorter Videos on YouTube

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Australian retail brands are publishing fewer videos on YouTube, which is in sharp contrast to what they are doing on Facebook. In the first half of 2017, an average of 19 videos were published per brand on YouTube. On Facebook, brands published an average of 162 videos each in the same time period. The length of videos published on YouTube is also decreasing. Facebook is becoming the go-to place for publishing videos as opposed to YouTube, especially for longer videos.

  1. Coles uploaded 58 videos in 2017, three times more than the average retail brand
  2. The average length of David Jones’ videos in 2017 was 1 min 45 seconds, 60% longer than the average video length