by Jack Weinstein

On Tuesday, we presented Social Best Practices from Top Brands in Q1-Q3 2015 during Social Media Week Chicago , which runs through the end of the week. We had such a great time meeting social media professionals from all over the country. We hope everyone left with a few new social insights you can use with your brands. Thanks for coming!

For those of you who weren’t able to attend our Social Media Week Chicago presentation, we’ve broken out some of the key findings from an analysis of the top brands on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We used those insights to identify the social best practices that drove the most engagement through the first three quarters of the year.

The Four Key Drivers of Content Sharing

We’ve identified four main types of content that drive the most engagement: Storytelling, Emotion Evoking, Utility and Social Proof. Many brands post this type of content. Here are some of the best examples.


Among retail brands, Lane Bryant’s #ImNoAngel campaign led to a 66% increase in total actions in April . The fashion brand told stories by tapping its fans and sharing user-generated content .

Lane Bryant used that success to launch #PlusIsEqual, a follow-up campaign in September. This Facebook post generated the most engagement for the brand so far this year.

Emotion Evoking

Many brands generate significant engagement by making an emotional connection with audiences. The publishing industry isn’t necessarily known for this, but Country Living Magazine is one of the best at using nostalgia to engage with fans and followers.

Those of us old enough to remember Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood likely have fond memories of watching his show when we got home from school. How could you not? With his kind and gentle demeanor, Rogers educated generations of kids. He taught us how to use our imaginations, showed us how things worked and how to wear sweaters. But his most important lessons were about how we should treat one another.

Country Living reminded us of some of those those lessons on Mister Rogers’ birthday. It was Country Living’s fourth most-shared post of the year and the most-shared post that wasn’t a recipe. Shares accounted for 53% of total actions on the post.


B2B brands do a great job of providing practical value for their audiences. We’ll admit, we’re a bit biased about Hubspot. OK, a lot biased. We love them! But we can’t deny the brand’s social success.

Using keywords like “learn,” “how to” and “tips,” we discovered that 77% of Hubspot’s 435 posts from January through September linked to a piece of content on its website that provided some type of education for its audience. Those posts generated 94% of Hubspot’s social actions and 96% of its shares.

Social Proof

State Farm leveraged the popularity of the NBA to generate new interest in its products. In the first half of the year, posts about the NBA represented 8% of State Farm’s content and drove 20% of total engagement.

Speaking of industry, some are better than others at generating engagement from the same audiences more than once. Sports and recreation, TV and publishing get the most returning engagers on Facebook and Twitter. It makes sense, given that preferences for brands in those industries don’t often change significantly over time.

But if you’re a finance brand, you might want to also dedicate your social media efforts to Twitter. Finance brands get 6% of loyal engagers on Facebook, a number that improves to 14% on Twitter.

The New Media Market

Co-branded content is becoming more common on social. And for good reason: it generates a lot of engagement, especially for brands that partner with publishers whose audiences share the same affinities, and are larger and typically more engaged. Media Publishers dominate social engagement and impressions because they typically have a higher frequency of posting organic content as news breaks. Brands find tremendous value in this, which is why we’re seeing co-branded content becoming increasingly more important in the social mix. Fashion bloggers are also good at co-branding .

Co-branded content performs an average of 711% better if it appears on a publisher’s social media pages versus the advertisers.

Top Brands

For those interested in rankings, it’s no surprise that National Geographic continues to dominate social .

The media publisher uses Instagram and its global staff of photographers to deliver to its audience some of the most breathtaking images online. National Geographic has already generated 1.15 billion total social actions (likes, comments, shares, tweets and retweets) all Facebook, Twitter and Instagram this year, more than twice as many than in 2014 .

And the content driving the engagement growth for many of these brands is social video . While video still remains a small part of many brands’ content mix, it generates far more engagement than any other type of post.

Video content is especially shareable. Through the first three quarters of the year, shares have accounted for 11% of all social actions. Video posts, however, are shared 46 percent of the time.

That shareability helps account for a 123% increase in total actions on video content so far this year. And Instagram has taken the lead has overtaken Facebook as the social media platform that generates the most engagement through video.


Discover how social media analytics can provide the insights to benchmark your brands performance against the competition with Shareablee. Start with the Social Best Practices from Top Brands Q1-Q3.

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