Thursday, May 23rd, 2013 | 5 min read
H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB is well on its way to breaking the top 100 most social companies on the Social Business Index. H&M has always been a leader in fast-fashion straight off the runway, but what makes the brand robust and engaging on social media is its winning combination of star power and consumer-aligned values.
For the past three weeks, major spikes in brand passion revolved around three key events:
1) 4/25: The debut of a Beyoncé Ad on Youtube
2) 5/2: The release of the new Water Collection in stores and online
3) 5/13: The signing of the Bangladesh Safety Agreement
Celebrity Endorsement Drives Social Media Engagement
The global retail clothing company has collaborated with some of the biggest names in fashion and popular culture, including Versace, Jimmy Choo, Lana Del Rey, David Beckham, and now, Beyoncé.
A YouTube music video ad posted on April 25th featured Beyoncé singing her tropical new song, “Standing on the Sun,” and strutting in swimwear from H&M’s Water Collection. The day after the video was up, there was a jump in discussion strength on Twitter and Facebook and within 2 weeks, the video received over 1.8 million views and 5,000 likes.
Then, on May 3rd, the day after the collection was available online and in stores, we see the highest combined spike in discussion strength on both of H&M’s social accounts. Almost all the top Twitter conversation topics, in terms of number of participants and social signal volume, were related to the “Beyoncé as Mrs. Carter in H&M” campaign.
Consumer-Aligned Values Generate Greater Social Ecosystem Signals
Corporate social responsibility today is as obligatory as having a Facebook page. It’s important to be both active and reactive when it comes to being socially responsible. H&M is actively responsible by donating 25% of Beyoncé’s Water Collection proceeds to WaterAid and offering discounts to every customer who donates old clothes. At the same time, the company is reactive, as exemplified by its decision to sign an agreement for more rigorous factory safety inspections and repairs after the Bangladesh garment factory collapse on April 24th that killed over 1,000 workers. H&M’s announcement garnered the most social signals on the Monday it signed the agreement – fans were more responsive to H&M when they respected the brand.
What H&M Means to Me as a Consumer
I think as a clothing company, it is especially important to align yourself with your consumers because people express themselves through their sense of style. H&M’s fan base largely consists of young, trendy teenagers and professionals. As a senior at NYU and an intern at Dachis Group, I’m drawn to stores where I know the shopping experience will be easy and fruitful. H&M is my go-to for affordable, staple pieces that I can layer to go from smart casual to street flirty (but if you want a leopard print bodycon dress, they’ll have that too). A lot of the appeal also stems from the fact that you can get a $15 blazer that won’t look like a $15 blazer. And because H&M isn’t very expensive to begin with, you can keep up with the latest fads without breaking your wallet. They’ve mastered this concept of accessible fashion not only with bang-for-your-buck apparel, but also from an aspirational brand image backed by top-notch stars. I’ve already replayed the YouTube video 10 times (not just for the sake of this post) because it’s catchy, the outfits look great, and you can’t go wrong with Beyoncé. On top of that, H&M’s charitable efforts and just response to the Bangladesh accident make me proud to support them now and in the future.
What Other Retail Companies Can Learn From H&M
Other retail clothing companies can learn from the way H&M stays in tune with its customers. Consumers see brands as extensions of themselves so brands need to be hip but humble, cool but cognizant. Staying relevant and listening to its followers through celebrity sponsorship and social responsibility has kept the brand in its audience’s consideration set and has translated to H&M’s success as one of the most engaging fashion brands in social media.