Target, America’s third largest retailer, added more than 2 million Facebook fans in the last month alone, making them one of America’s fastest-growing social brands, according to Track Social. Many brands are able to spike likes through great marketing, big ad buys or both. But few are able to maintain high engagement levels as sometimes less qualified traffic floods the page. Target Facebook engagement has been trending upward all year, driven largely by an increase in Likes on brand posted content. We’ve highlighted five of the mechanisms and best practices we think are helping make Target one of the most successfully brands on Facebook.

1. Encourage Shares by keeping messaging and delivery mechanisms simple and relevant with a clear benefit to the Customer.

Increasing Fan and Follower content sharing is a brass ring for Facebook marketers. Retail brands are constantly attempting to craft tools and applications that not only facilitate interaction among online friend-networks, but actually draw these groups into new opportunities for retail transactions. Enter Target’s “Give With Friends” Facebook app, released this past March. The easy-to-use app allows Facebook friends to pool their resources and give a gift card to another lucky friend. It’s a simple concept that weds the social prerogative of Facebook with an obvious retail benefit for Target.

2. Twitter isn’t just a coupon feed. Leverage it as a real time response tool to create conversations.

Many brands treat Twitter as merely a high volume digital coupon dispenser. Instead, Target takes advantage of Twitter’s instant response to create truly interactive fan contests. To publicize the recent release of the Hunger Games on DVD, Target used Twitter to conduct a live national trivia contest. Followers had the chance to win Hunger Games related prizes by being the quickest to Tweet answers to trivia questions. This kind of contest, attached to such a high profile pop-culture product, was a great way to engage Twitter followers, build buzz around a product launch and make connections with new customers by tapping into the Hunger Games huge fan base – all with minimal cost.

3. Whenever possible, say it with pictures.

Track Social’s recent white paper “Optimizing Facebook Engagement” showed that photos are the hands-down winner when it comes to boosting engagement scores. Target’s photo posts receive significantly better response than other types of posts (as seen below), and Target leverages this by posting photos more often than any other type of content.





4. Community Engagement = Social Engagement

Target has a long history of community involvement. The bullseye brand’s recent “Give With Target” campaign used recurring wall posts to encourage Facebook users to vote for their favorite local school in order to win Target gift cards for the schools to use.

 

The campaign was supported by a series of posts with a simple message –  “Add another vote to the school of your choice. 25 votes = $25 Target GiftCard to that school. Remember to share with friends and family to get your school to $10k.” It was so successful they reached their $2.5 million donation goal more than a week ahead of schedule.

5. Think Global, Post Local

Too often, big brands waste their chance for more relevant dialogue by treating Facebook or Twitter as just another mass-media mega-phone.Target customizes posts based on users’ locations, like these posts targeting Los Angelinos:

Target’s commitment to innovating online is in keeping with its forward-looking image. Staying relevant with savvy consumers means engaging the social space in ways that are meaningful, creative and mutually beneficial for both brands and consumers.