Recent research reveals clothing has been the most popular online purchase in 2014, with 64% of 25-34 year olds purchasing online, alongside record numbers of online sales for the homewares industry. Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed many ground-breaking social media campaigns generating fantastic results, with the retail industry being particularly successful of late.

Today we take a look at some great social media campaigns from top retailers French Connection, Topshop and everyone’s Swedish favourite - Ikea.

French Connection

Aware of the benefits social media can have on connecting with their core target audience of 18-35 year olds - 44% of millennials use social media to promote products/services and 46% consult with social media before purchasing - French Connection use these channels to great success.

Love them or loathe them the ‘selfie’ is sweeping the globe. French Connection tapped into this trend and back in May, launched a Selfie booth in its flagship store on Regent Street, London. In-store shoppers were encouraged to create their perfect outfit, entering the selfie booth to have their snaps taken in the designer gear. Launched at their press evening with A-list celebs in tow, this interactive selfie booth captured shoppers images and later displayed them on the high resolution store windows. Themed with the #Can’tHelpMySelfie hashtag, images were later uploaded to French Connection’s social media channels where users could cast their votes for the best outfit, which the shopper would then win.

Not only did this get people talking about the brand, it promoted vast amounts of user-generated content (featuring key products from the new collection) and enhanced its reach by tapping into users’ wider networks.

This campaign proved so successful that print ads were designed to run alongside the social media activity and the original Regent Street store concept was then rolled out across the Oxford Street, Bluewater, Manchester and Newcastle branches as well.

See the top voted #Can’tHelpMySelfie selfies here!

Topshop and LFW

Over the past few years Topshop’s ‘Unique’ brand has been going from strength to strength and in a bid to increase awareness further for the range and build their social media presence, Topshop ran one of the most stylish social media campaigns of 2014. The competition was rolled out in February across Topshop’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, encouraging customers and fans to send in snaps of their fashion week style with the ultimate prize on offer - front row seats to London Fashion Week - well kind of.

Attempting to out-do the likes of Burberry in the fashion, social media and technology stakes, Topshop had given five social media competition winners the chance to view LFW virtually from their Oxford Street store using the latest Oculus Rift technology. Not only did this campaign increase social media likes and followers by a significant amount throughout the length of the campaign, the Topshop fashion show featured in the top five most talked about shows during LFW on social media, with 13,000 mentions to Burberry’s 10,000.

Fully aware of the benefits social media can have on a brand, Topshop previously worked in partnership with Facebook for fashion week in 2012, Google+ in 2013 and launched an excellent Pinterest campaign in the lead up to Christmas 2013 - ‘Dear Topshop’. Topshop continues to prove that its very on trend!

Ikea

Step back to 2009 before Instagram, Vine and Snapchat took over our lives, Ikea were already capitalising on the success of social media for brand building. Following the launch of a new store in Malmö Sweden, with a low budget and the desire to increase awareness amongst the people of Malmö, Ikea took to Facebook in favour of traditional marketing methods.

After creating the Facebook page, 12 images of showrooms in the Malmö store were shared out across this channel over a two-week period. Soliciting the help of Facebook’s then most popular product - photo tagging - the first fan which tagged themselves against an item in the image would win it, that simple. At this time, when you were tagged in a photo on Facebook everyone in your network would instantly see it in their feed update. This was an element Ikea capitalised on, and with word spreading quickly, not only did thousands of people visit the Ikea Facebook Page in search of their chance to win, but they also helped to promote the brand and new store to their online connections.

Ikea was talked about in thousands of blogs and thousands of tweets were posted about the campaign. In fact, it was such an organic success that Facebook quickly changed its terms and conditions to prevent similar campaigns from running in the future. The Ikea showroom campaign later went on to win ‘Most Contagious 2009’ award and a ‘Titanium Lion’ at Cannes International Advertising Festival in 2010.

So, what do all three of these campaigns have in common?

They all give the audience what they want. Whether its an exclusive offer, a prize or simply a piece of useful information, social media campaigns will be successful if they provide something of perceived benefit to the recipients.