Social media has grown to be one of the key channels for retailers during the Black Friday period, but ecommerce brands are taking very different approaches to capture consumers in this crucial period.

Year after year, Facebook and Instagram are leveraged as key marketing channels in order to reach potential buyers on one of the busiest shopping weeks of the year. For this reason, the landscape on and around Black Friday is incredibly noisy, and brands are having to do much more to stand out from the crowd.

But which brands were able to make themselves heard on social media during this discounting frenzy? Which brands had that something extra that set them apart from the competition. We looked at the social media tactics used by brands across the fashion retail market, and five caught our eye.

H&M plays the long game

H&M were one of the first brands that caught our eye. They understood that Black Friday is about much more than generating a high volume of sales over the course of a small period, and focused on the long-game.

The brand utilised the hype of the event to build up the size of their database in the long term by offering 20% off everything ahead of Black Friday itself for members only. This encouraged users to sign up to the mailing list.

Long term, this enabled H&M to reach out to these users through owned channels, as opposed to using more expensive paid media. The pre-access offer also added a touch of exclusivity, enticing users in with their ‘behind-the-curtain’ imagery.

PhD – More than just a day

Every year, it feels like the Black Friday ‘period’ becomes longer and longer. It now often extends from the Monday prior to Black Friday, all the way through to Cyber Monday.

This year, PhD took it one step further, dubbing their promo “Black November”, with thumb-stopping stories featuring the offer and their products.

In the promo-heavy sports nutrition vertical, this was a clever way to cut through and ensure their results spanned more than just a weekend.

Ted Baker – All about the influencer

Influencers are to Instagram what gifts are to holiday season – an absolutely inseparable part, whether many of us like it or not!

This year, Ted Baker acknowledged this point and took the clever approach of leveraging a range of influencers across their paid social activity. Not only does this help to provide an endorsement of their brand, but it also gave us some great aspirational ‘how-to-wear’ images that surely engaged many Black Friday shoppers.

John Lewis – More is more

When it came to the volume, few offered more variations of ads than John Lewis – an enormous 560 variations were visible in Facebook’s ad library! What’s more, relatively few of these called out Black Friday specifically, reserving that messaging mainly for their dynamic remarketing ads.

This mirrors John Lewis’ decision to go for a softer Black Friday message across their marketing communications, opting not to advertise a specific overall percentage or monetary discount across any of their channels or on site.

Instead, many of John Lewis’ ads maintained a Christmas or gifting type approach, with an incredibly granular targeting focus. From holiday hampers to ads advertising specific brands of makeup – we can only imagine how both sizable and refined the brand’s audience and creative targeting must have been.

We particularly enjoyed their high engaging ads that pushed Christmas personality quizzes.

Topshop and Topman

In the reverse to John Lewis, both Topman and Topshop decided to keep their creative incredibly simple this year.

All of their paid social creative featured colourful clouds of smoke, often in a thumb stopping video format with any added text keeping to the point – ‘25% off everything’. This mirrored the imagery used across various other channels, from homepage to out of home. This made the imagery incredibly identifiable over the period, and maintained a single, clear tone of voice for their audience.