Each year, we analyze the websites of leading eCommerce sites across dozens of categories to see which features best-in-class brands are using.

In this piece, we take a critical look at how three best-in-class brands —Adidas, Crate and Barrel, and Nixon—are promoting their brands and products while retargeting customers using Facebook’s extensive marketing platform, including Pages, Messenger, and Instagram.

Note: Curious how your social media presence and advertising strategy compares to your competitors? We can help. Contact us here.

Example #1: Adidas

33.8 Million Likes on Facebook | 19.9 Million Followers on Instagram

Adidas is seeing low ROI on Facebook video posts

For a company like Adidas that targets active people, it makes sense that video would be a central part of their brand strategy.

However, Adidas’ videos are currently not working on Facebook.

Once a success story for video advertisement on Facebook, this year, Adidas has stopped buying video ads while they review the return on investment. In fact, they’ve stopped posting at all.

The last post on the official Adidas U.S. page is from March.

What happened? Changes in the way Facebook shows brand content to its users.

Since 2014, Facebook has been slowly decreasing organic reach for Pages, requiring organizations to pay to reach their fans. Companies had grown used to this.

But, throughout the first half of 2018, we’ve seen even more dramatic changes to Facebook’s business platform.

In January, Facebook reinforced its priority to rank the posts from friends and family in the news feed over posts from organizations and other pages. While Facebook still offers boosted posts (sponsored posts that show in a users news feed), they won’t reach everyone.

Some Facebook users no longer see any posts from brands and organizations they follow, not even sponsored posts.

So Adidas has turned to Instagram

Currently, users are more likely to see organic content from businesses in their Instagram feed than their Facebook news feed, and Adidas is taking advantage. Their videos are crushing it on Instagram, consistently pulling in between 150,000 and 350,000 views.

Marketing takeaway: If your brand, like Adidas, is well-suited for video content, consider promoting that content on Instagram over Facebook.

Of course, you might not want to abandon Facebook altogether. A better way to get videos shared on Facebook is through your fans. Create video content worth sharing, and your fans will spread the love for you.

Retargeting Ads on Instagram

Here’s an example of a retargeting ad from Adidas. Users browsing Instagram on their phone will see the ad in their feed among regular posts from other friends, family, and brands that they follow.

In the desktop version of Facebook, retargeting ads appear outside of the feed.

Another strong retargeting option is Facebook Messenger ads, which allows users to flip through multiple product images with ad copy.

Marketing Takeaway: It appears that a low ROI on organic and sponsored posts (including video posts) is impacting many brands—not just Adidas. But we found other brands that continue to have a strong daily active fan-base on Facebook, such as Crate and Barrel.

Note: Want to know where to place retargeting ads to see the best ROI? We can help. Contact us here.

Example #2: Crate and Barrel

815,914 Likes on Facebook | 1.1 Million Followers on Instagram

The Wall Street Journal explains that only three years ago Crate and Barrel had a tiny social media presence and relied, instead, on print media.

Today, Crate and Barrel has a flourishing social media presence, especially on Instagram and YouTube.

The retailer spends more than 50% of its ad budget on digital media and, as of March 2018, 47% of its revenue comes from online sales.

Crate and Barrel posts daily to maintain an engaged Facebook fanbase

While many other brands have seen a decrease in engaged users on their Facebook content, Crate and Barrel posts daily with high levels of engagement.

We don’t know how much of this engagement is sponsored and how much is organic; however, for brands like Crate and Barrel, daily engagement with users can have positive results in the algorithm responsible for how many users see your content.

Crate and Barrel posts that have the highest level of engagement (shares, likes, and comments) are often about discounts or humor.

They also use branded hashtags that, when clicked, show related posts.

They double up on their Facebook/Instagram presence

Many of Crate and Barrel’s posts were originally posted on Instagram and reshared on Facebook.

Their branded content performs better on Instagram

In October of 2017, Crate and Barrel announced a partnership with Reese Witherspoon, including selling the celebrity’s lifestyle and fashion brand Draper James. As part of this partnership, Witherspoon creates paid ads for the brand.

Starting in March of 2017, Facebook simplified its policy guidelines to allow companies to publish branded content more easily. These posts and videos are tagged with the word “Paid.”

Similar to Adidas, Crate and Barrel’s videos perform better on Instagram.

This could be that they simply have three times the followers on Instagram. Plus, as we saw with Adidas, due to Facebook’s viewing algorithm, more of those followers are likely to see the video organically on Instagram over Facebook.

Marketing Takeaway: With all the changes to Facebook’s platform, some brands continue to have an active fanbase.

If you’re a new brand coming to Facebook, we suggest running small tests on sponsored posts to see what your fans and potential fans will respond to best. Use Facebook’s helpful tools, such as Dynamic creative and Split Test, to make sure you’re working with the best copy, images, and overall ads.

Example #3: Nixon

1.2 Million Likes on Facebook | 629,000 Followers on Instagram

Nixon makes good use of the Facebook Shop feature

Nixon is one of the few best-in-class brands we investigated that consistently tag products on Facebook using the Facebook Shop feature. By tagging products, consumers can easily click through to Nixon’s site to make a purchase.

While it’s common for eCommerce sites to have a “Shop” tab on their Facebook page, few users will frequently visit a brand’s homepage. By including product information in Facebook posts, more fans will see the information.

Instagram offers a similar tagging feature.

Facebook also allows companies to share a product directly from a Facebook store; however, we’ve seen little evidence of this creating strong engagement.

Marketing Takeaway: Sharing products may not lead to the same level of engagement as using the “products shown” tool, which gives you a chance to show your products in a more meaningful way—while still making it easy for consumers to enter a sales funnel.

Most engagement on posts featuring multiple products

Nixon receives the most engagement on posts that feature entire collections of products—or their watches alongside other products.

Uses Instagram Stories to promote products, branded sponsorships, and events

Instagram Stories are one of the hottest new ways to connect with fans. They can be a mix of videos and interactive still images offering brands up to 15 seconds of viewers’ full-screen attention. Nixon uses these stories to connect in several ways with followers.

More and more brands are consistently using Instagram stories to promote products, new lines, content such as blogs, and events, and other brand strategies.

Marketing Takeaway: There are many ways to use Facebook and Instagram to connect with fans and new potential customers, promote products, and foster brand awareness. However, the platforms should be just a part of how you connect with new and existing customers.

Note: Need a full analysis of your paid advertising strategy? We can help. Contact us here.