What a Fashion Show Can Show Us About Social Engagement

Each of the past 19 winters, women’s clothing retailer, Victoria’s Secret, has brought their annual Fashion Show into the living rooms of millions around the globe. It comes as no surprise that a brand always on the cutting edge of fashion is also on the cutting edge of technology. You didn’t even have to turn on your television to have seen one of the winged-angels strutting down the runway. If you’re a follower of Victoria’s Secret (or any of the models) on social media, you could have seen all the outfits and gotten a behind-the-scenes look at the show in the week leading up to it.

The show aired last night, but was taped a week in advance. One can assume that rather than try to keep things quiet, the path of least resistance was to effectively leak the entire show early through social media. Here’s a look at the various social media properties of Victoria’s secret, by the numbers:

  • Facebook – 26.8 million “likes”
  • Instagram – 7.4 million followers
  • Twitter – 5.1 million followers
  • YouTube – 550,000 subscribers
  • Pinterest – 205,000 followers

Now, if you were to take an educated guess as to which one of these generated the highest engagement, what would you say?


And it wasn’t even close. Facebook has never been a place for quick and frequent posting; it’s simply not set up that way. Rather than dedicate resources to posting things that a majority of their followers may not even see, they relied on focused posts that encouraged fans to watch their live pre-show (online) and then take advantage of free shipping immediately following the show. VS made about 14 posts on Facebook yesterday, receiving between 2,000 and 8,500 likes, and a handful of shares. For 26.8 million followers, those are relatively low numbers.

Twitter followers are accustomed to consuming data quicker. A post from noon could easily be posted again at 6pm and reach two entirely different audiences. See it, react to it – fast. Of the roughly 33 tweets around the time of the show yesterday, most received between 1,000 and 3,000 favorites, with a few outliers on the high-end. Retweets were lower, usually about half the number of favorites, depending on the post. Posts were a mix of photos (higher engagement), quotes from the models, and what was coming up after the commercial break. Consistent use of their #VSFashionShow hashtag, as well as hashtags built around the names of each segment, accentuated each post.

The use of YouTube was primarily for behind the scenes videos and the commercials that they aired during the show. The handful of videos posted during the day yesterday were viewed, on average, 40-50,000 times.

Pinterest doesn’t have the sense of urgency as some of the other platforms, but VS did set up a board specifically for the Fashion Show, and used the descriptions to provide more detail about the outfits. In terms of likes or “re-pins” the numbers were in the double digits.

And then there was Instagram. Within minutes of each photograph being posted, likes were in the tens of thousands. This turned into a couple hundred thousand in less than 24 hours. Posts were virtually identical to their tweets (ones with pictures), so why the massive difference in engagement?

The answer is pretty simple: audience

We always talk about knowing your audience, particularly who visits your website. Most of the major social platforms also have analytics that tell you the composition of your audience. It’s a misconception that the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is intended for a male audience; and the demographic differences in user by social channel make it pretty obvious. If I’m Victoria’s Secret, I am going to rely heavily on Instagram as a referral source.

Certainly, Instagram appears to be working for Victoria’s Secret, but it may not be the best channel for every business. Determining the proper social media mix is a critical element of any marketing strategy. Instagram users tend to be young, but if your business is financial services, they may be the wrong target for you, and you should focus on LinkedIn (not surprisingly, no LinkedIn posts from Victoria’s Secret!).

One thing to keep in mind is that we’re talking about engagement as measured by interaction, not by ultimate conversion action. We have no way of determining which platform may have the highest conversion rate (as measured by purchase or consumer action).

But, we can tell that many of the posts do link to their website, or a particular section of their online catalog – and for any e-commerce retailer, that is the goal of social media. Instagram and Twitter are primarily mobile entities, and Facebook mobile traffic continues to grow. Is your website equipped to handle the needs of your traffic?

Ryan McGrath is a Marketing Consultant with G.1440. The reason he knows so much about the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is because he’s watched it virtually since it began 19 years ago, and follows VS and his favorite angels on social media. This, along with his knowledge of analytics and social media, qualifies him to talk about the Fashion Show in such great detail. He can be reached at rmcgrath@g1440.com.