Having active, attractive and engaging social media profiles is no longer a bonus in most industries - it's essential. That goes double for fashion brands, where beautiful imagery is everything and competition is fierce.
We wanted to take a look at which UK fashion brands have nailed it when it comes to generating a large following, looking across a range of social media platforms - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest - to see who is truly leading the charge in the social media stakes.
We looked at 70 of the UK's biggest fashion brands - so some of the big names like H&M (Swedish) and Zara (Spain) didn't make the cut - and ranked them by their total social following. Some of the big names were ever present, but there were some surprises in there too - you can see the top 30 in the table below.
The full dataset offers insight into all 70 brands included in our research, and reveals some very interesting facts about the state of fashion brands on social media (data correct as of 22nd-23rd June).
Topshop rolling in in first place - despite Topman having its own range of social media profiles - spoke to the benefit of having a brand with a little legacy, with ASOS falling back into into a perhaps surprising second place. British High Street staples Dorothy Perkins, Primark and Marks & Spencer completed the top five, beating out some of the newer and trendier brands like Boohoo, Missguided and PrettyLittleThing (despite their far younger target and social-savvy customer bases).
Brands that missed out on the top 30 altogether included ASDA George, Burton, Simply Be - and even the likes of Matalan, Monsoon and Warehouse.
The biggest fashion brands on social media tend to be big because of Instagram, with huge inconsistencies between the number of followers among the most social brands and those further down the table. This is despite the average fashion-led Facebook account having more followers than Instagram, particularly across the top 30 brands:
|Average Number of Facebook Followers (Top 30)
||Average Number of Facebook Followers
|Average Number of Twitter Followers (Top 30)
||Average Number of Twitter Followers
|Average Number of Instagram Followers (Top 30)
||Average Number of Instagram Followers
|Average Number of Pinterest Followers (Top 30)
||Average Number of Pinterest Followers
Topshop and ASOS sweep to the front of the pack because of their comparatively huge Instagram followings - 8,900,000 and 6,200,000 respectively. Dorothy Perkins falls into third despite being utterly dominant on Facebook, with well over double the numbers of followers of any other UK fashion brand.
Twitter, perhaps surprisingly, lingered a long way behind Instagram and Facebook in terms of the average number of followers, though Pinterest performed far worse. This perhaps speaks to the difficulty brands face in using Pinterest for marketing, alongside the struggle Pinterest has faced while trying to commercialise its offering - even in an image-heavy industry like fashion.
The lack of concern over Pinterest is also shown in the number of verified profiles - though the infamous Twitter blue tick is not given out too generously, either:
|Facebook Verified? (Top 30)
||Facebook Verified? (Full 70)
|Facebook Blue Tick? (Top 30)
||Facebook Blue Tick? (Full 70)
|Twitter Verified? (Top 30)
||Twitter Verified? (Full 70)
|Instagram Verified? (Top 30)
||Instagram Verified? (Full 70)
|Pinterest Verified? (Top 30)
||Pinterest Verified? (Full 70)
Only 14 of the top 70 UK fashion brands on social media have a verified Pinterest account, all of which were in the top 30; in fact, there were 6 brands that didn't have a Pinterest account at all.
The Facebook verification system - with grey ticks and, eventually, blue ticks - also provided some interesting data. Blue ticks are only given to 'eligible brands, media organizations and public figures', and five of the brands outside the top 30 apparently haven't made the cut yet (the largest of which is probably Debenhams).
One thing that we couldn't investigate was the number of fake followers across the brands we looked at - something that's obviously quite influential when it comes to the raw total number of followers.
A very quick check using some free tools gives a figure off 88% real followers for the likes of @Topshop on Twitter, for example - a very good figure for an account with that many followers (all accounts will naturally draw fake followers, after all).
Instagram especially may be prone to inflated follower numbers, and research into the number of fake followers could be quite interesting.
Data was collected between the 21st and 22nd June, and the raw data can be found via the following spreadsheet.
For the final table, follower numbers were rounded to the nearest 1,000 - as this is the top level data given for Facebook and Instagram accounts were you are not the account owner. However, both datasets can be found via the above.