Commentary

Best Buy Has A Lot To Retweet About

Gift cards were the biggest drivers of conversation on Twitter among consumers discussing giving and receiving presents this holiday season and nobody generates more likes and retweets than the resurging Best Buy.

Even better, more than 99% of the content was published by users — including but not limited to influencers — instead of the Richfield, Minn.-based retailer itself, according to research by Sysomos, the Toronto-based social media analytics company.

Best Buy actually finished eighth among the Top 10 brands ranked by original posts, following Amazon, Starbucks, Sephora, Visa, Target, iTunes and Victoria’s Secret. But posts about Best Buy gift cards were retweeted by a factor of nine compared to its original posts, the most by far of any brand finishing in the Top 25 brands whose gift cards drove the greatest engagement.

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That’s not to say that it happens by chance. Quite the opposite.

“They are very active in engaging with their audience; it’s something that they pay attention to far and away more than a lot of other brands,” says Sysomos chief strategy officer David Berkowitz. “They also have had a lot of experience in the gift cards, so that they have some track record for knowing what works,” he adds, “and they're heavily motivated during the holiday season to really optimize that.”

To cite one example, each Miami and West Virginia player in the Russell Athletic Bowl last December got a $300 Best Buy gift card, which generated posts (not to mention good, old-fashioned stories). And Best Buy’s promoted tweets often tie gift cards to purchases of a particular product, be it a Pixel phone by Google (85 likes, 275 retweets here) or a Samsung Galaxy S7 with a Gear VR headset (65 likes, 155 retweets here) — a tactic that amplifies interest.

“I do think that having paid [media] is something that not every brand has focused on and that will probably continue to be a bigger and bigger opportunity with each holiday season, especially as paid media becomes such a driving force of social activity in general,” Berkowitz says.

Some other takeaways flagged by Sysomos:

  • Social influencers promoting gift cards generated the greatest engagements for brands. “If you’re a brand working with an influencer — give them the easiest job possible,” it advises.
  • Sysomos also breaks out the top rated brands regionally (Northeast, South, Midwest, West). Original posts by Amazon and Starbucks were No. 1 and 2 across the board nationally but engagement diverges after that. If you are a devotee of one of the more than 645 Wawa convenience store outlets in six Eastern states, for example, it appears you are ga-ga about it. Wawa was the sixth most mentioned brand in the Northeast following iTunes. In the West, it was No. 149 (not so bad, actually, since there are none west of Pennsylvania).
  • Sephora also “seems to be killing it.” It’s within the Top 3 of every list (total volume, retweets — No. 2 at 3.4X — and engagement), and it’s within the Top 5 mentioned brand in each region.  
  • Digital brands — notably Uber and Airbnb — cracked the list of top brands mentioned in gift card content, supporting the ubiquity these digital brands are gaining.
  • Brick-and-more stalwarts, on the other hand, are demonstrably fading. Macy’s was the only department store to make the list of the 10 most retweeted brands.

Here’s Sysomos’ ranking of the brands whose gift cards drove the most engagement from Veteran’s Day through New Years’ Eve.

  1. Best Buy
  2. iTunes
  3. Sephora
  4. Amazon
  5. Starbucks
  6. GameStop
  7. Target
  8. Visa
  9. Victoria's Secret
  10. Walmart
  11. Chipotle
  12. Nike
  13. Chick-Fil-A
  14. Dunkin Donuts
  15. Macy's
  16. Uber
  17. Airbnb
  18. McDonalds
  19. Applebees
  20. Red Lobster
  21. Subway
  22. PayPal
  23. Hot Topic
  24. Panera Bread 
  25. Olive Garden
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