How retailer Primark got to 3 million Instagram followers in less than three years

primark instagram

Fast-fashion chain Primark knew it was late to the game when it joined Instagram in October 2013. But it sure made up for lost time.

Last week, the brand passed the 3 million milestone. And unlike low-priced rivals like Miss Selfridge (310,000 followers) and New Look (1.1 million followers), Primark has no ad budget, it’s all organic growth. The brand is adding about 100,000 followers per month.

“Our first post was a photo of some of our watches. It read ‘about time,'” said Olly Rzysko, the retailer’s head of digital communications, told Digiday. “We found that our content has done best when it looks like a friend posted it. It’s not about being staged. We’re essentially a guest on their feed, so we need to fit in.”

That doesn’t mean #adulting or having a #QuarterLifeCrisis but rather posting about products like a user would (albeit one with a great camera). Think less white backgrounds and more in-store shots, blogger poses and bedroom floor haulsRzysko says the emphasis is on showing the brand’s products in context, whether that’s via a photoshoot on a bed or on a “regrammed” post from one of its followers.

These loyal followers are a key part of the brand’s success. Scrolling through the hashtag #Primark (which is used in over 1 million posts) or #Primania, its 13-person social team is able to pick up trends on how its audience is using the platform. Then, it can co-opt these trends itself.

For instance, as more users are now posting their Snapchat content on Instagram, Snapchat’s giant emoji overlays and lenses are now more common. When the team trialed its own emoji overlays in a post last week, it was its top performer.

Unicorn t-shirts are real!  Prices from just £6/€8 #Primark #Primania #womenswear #unicorns

A photo posted by Primark (@primark) on

And it’s not just about how Instagrammers post but also what they post.

The retailer releases 100 new products every week ranging from homeware to kids clothing. Referencing the platform’s hashtag feeds is a way for the team to see which types of products are trending and how they are being styled. For instance, an increase in sock-related content fed into the week’s content plan (more socks, duh).

#Primania isn’t exclusive to Instagram, though. The community has been cultivated on the brand’s main site, which is home to a wealth of user-generated content. So far, more than 10,000 looks have been uploaded to its #Primania portal, where they can be upvoted and shared by others. Selected images are also displayed on LED screens inside its stores.

The focus of its Primania portal, like its Instagram feed, is to get shoppers in-store. There’s information on where each shopper bought their items and also how much they cost. While product comes first on Instagram, price is also mentioned on each of its posts.

This isn’t just because price is important, but because Primark doesn’t do e-commerce. It has no online store. For this reason, its account also acts like a shopfront, a place for customers to see what’s available before heading to the shops.

“We don’t want to stand out as an advert. We just want to help them find the product they want,” Rzysko said.

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