During lockdown Primark reported a decrease of monthly sales from £650 million to £0. Ouch! Yet despite the three-month selling hiatus (Primark has no transactional website), the stores re-opened on June 15 to 5am queues, thousands of shoppers and an audible "how did they do that?" from other retailers.

It's simple. Primark smashed its social engagement out of the park during lockdown. The brand ensured it was part of the conversation with its customers. So, despite its inability to trade, Primark maintained excitement levels with its customers, positioning its social channels as a go-to place for everything from fashion advice to boredom-busting baking recipes.

We’ve taken a look at where Primark excelled so you can replicate the techniques no matter your business size or industry.

Know what works

Tracking your engagement shows you what content is working for your audience and what inspires them to communicate with you.

Primark has posted over 1,000 times since lockdown and generated 7.1 million engagements. That’s an average of 7,100 engagements per post, which is just about as good as it gets. Any business can increase its social media engagement simply by staying connected and being a part of the conversation.

In the period April - mid June while the business was completely unable to trade, Primark was just as active. Every customer comment was responded to and every piece of content they produced served their lockdown needs.

Throughout lockdown the brand served customers via social media in exactly the same way it did when it was open for business. It showed empathy for their customers and helped them get through lockdown life with handy tips and tricks for our new world.

How to replicate this technique

On temporarily shutting up shop, Primark continued to share updates with customers, be supportive and very present, acting as its customers own personal cheerleader.

The fast fashion brand shared content that helped customers do their nails at home, celebrate birthdays alone, learn how to do zoom calls and keep their spirits up through lockdown.

You need to stay active and stay connected to your customer. Create content that is relevant, important, entertaining or serves them first.

Know how much customers talk about you

At the time of writing, there were 66,000 conversations about Primark created since April. That’s 66 times the content it has created itself. Every conversation created about Primark is an opportunity for them to engage with not only that customer, but also that customer’s audience, increasing reach and improving brand reputation.

Getting your audience to talk about you is social media gold as that is what drives reach. To do this you need to think carefully about the topics that will drive that conversation.

How to replicate this technique

Primark is a brand people love and want to talk about. It’s own content is engaging, inclusive and exciting, and as a result, its product and ranges become lust haves and must haves. This then translates into online conversation.

Be positive and make it all about your customer. Share the content they create with your product, and encourage them to participate and engage. And when they do engage with you, make sure you engage back.

What are your customers saying?

The conversation about Primark is driven by its beauty range. This tells us that Primark’s customer is most excited and engaged by its beauty product and tells Primark that of all its content, this resonates the most so it's important to keep this stream of content regular.

How to replicate this technique

When creating your own content ensure it is relevant to as many people within your demographic as possible, is loaded with passion, and that it encourages sharing among friends.

Ensure that what you are saying is aligned to how you are talked about to get on the same page as your customer.

Primark encourages its audience to tag in their beauty loving friends and also makes sure its content is tagged up with the same hashtags its customer uses like #primarkbeauty.

How do your customers feel?

Tracking the sentiment of the social media conversation about you shows you how positively you are seen. You can engage with both positive and negative feedback, and learn from it.

In the weeks before reopening on June 15, and since, Primark has maintained its high positivity levels and negative sentiment has reduced.

How to replicate this technique

Listening to the conversation about you will help you identify positive content that you can engage with and reshare to build brand loyalty and advocacy. Engaging with negative feedback shows customers you are listening and care.

Key takeaway

Primark’s approach ensured that not only is it still engaging customers, but still has them excited to be shopping with them in the future. By inspiring and entertaining its customers at home, the brand continued to retain the hearts and minds of its customers and had bumper queues when it reopened. It’s content is engaging and on point and most importantly, it always responds to customers. This shows its customers that even in the darkest of times, they are being heard. This action delivers impressive social media engagement and keeps the comments coming and the shoppers shopping.

Get ahead like Primark. We're making the Primark conversation free to everyone.

New to Maybe*? When you sign up to Maybe* Primark's social media data will automatically appear in your Maybe* dashboard. You can keep track of it's social media engagement, benchmark their performance against your own and learn from their success.

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