How the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Drove Engagement on Instagram

By   |   December 9th, 2015   |   Reading time: 6 minutes Brands

As an early case study in how fashion brands use Instagram, we take a look at engagement around the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which was screened on US television last night.

There’s no denying the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is a social media behemoth. A highly-publicised annual event in the otherwise quiet end-of-year fashion calendar, it provokes ample discussion and coverage. In our first look at fashion brands’ use of social channels, we decided to take a look at how Victoria’s Secret uses social media to build awareness and buzz around the show.

This year, the Fashion Show was held in New York City on November 10th, but the television broadcast didn’t take place until December 8th. This allowed the company two distinct windows for promotion of the event. We took a look at Instagram data for the weeks of the event itself and its television broadcast. All the data comes from Spike.

Engagement around the Show

In the seven days immediately preceding the show itself, the Victoria’s Secret Instagram account was almost entirely devoted to promoting the upcoming event. It used photos from rehearsals, snapshots of the models, and images of guest arrivals on the night to evoke a clear sense of anticipation and excitement.

Here’s how that translated into engagement:

Graph showing Instagram engagement around VSFS 2015

In just seven days, the brand generated over 21.6 million likes on its feed. It posted 82 images and videos in total, meaning that on average each post earned 265,518 engagements. These are hugely impressive numbers to generate in a week, especially when one considers that the looks and designs featured in the show itself were still kept closely under wraps.

[bctt tweet=”#VSFS2015 – in the week of the show, @VictoriasSecret generated 21.7m engagements on @Instagram “]

That said, the biggest posts for the week in question were – unsurprisingly – all taken during the show. Backstage and behind-the-scenes shots were particularly popular, drawing users into the hectic and excited atmosphere on the night. The biggest post for the week was an ensemble shot of all the models who walked in the show, taken and uploaded just after the event drew to a close.

Your #VSFashionShow Class of 2015! ?? Tune in to see them all walk the runway Dec 8, 10/9c on #CBS. Now onto the after party!

A photo posted by Victoria’s Secret (@victoriassecret) on

This image earned 529,833 engagements during this period, making it the most popular post by some margin and marking the end of the show in suitably landmark fashion. Other photos captured models backstage or walking to the runway, allowing for sneak previews of certain looks without giving too much away.  

Butterfly effect: @laisribeiro in the most AMAZING wings. #Goosebumps #VSFashionShow A photo posted by Victoria’s Secret (@victoriassecret) on

Photos such as these are visually rich and appealing, but also help to showcase a different side to the production. The company’s stated aim is to inspire consumers to recreate the sense of spirit and confidence seen on the runway. Photos of rehearsals and make-up add an easier, inviting tone to the company’s feed and fosters a sense of accessibility. Unlike many high fashion shows, the items on display are widely available and affordable for most consumers. The company may therefore appeal to a slightly wider audience than other brands, and its use of more casual snapshots around the show sets it apart.

[bctt tweet=”Behind-the-scenes and rehearsal photos show a different side to #VSFS on @Instagram”]

Engagement around the Broadcast

While the broadcast didn’t earn quite as much engagement as the show itself, it nevertheless notched up an impressive number of interactions on Instagram.  

Graph showing Instagram engagement around the VSFS 2014 broadcast

However, it’s worth noting that these numbers grew demonstratively in the course of the broadcast itself. As at approximately 4pm GMT on the 8th December, the account had a total of about 10.8 million interactions for the preceding six days. When the airing of the show is taken into account, the numbers grow significantly, indicating that the account picked up about 8.7 million engagements on the evening of the broadcast alone. This goes some way to demonstrating the reach that major fashion events can pick up on Instagram. [bctt tweet=”.@VictoriasSecret picked up 8.7m Instagram engagements during the #VSFS2015 broadcast”] Looking at the account’s biggest posts for the week, a number of trends stand out. Firstly, now that the show has taken place, footage and imagery from the event itself can be used. With the looks and segments no longer under wraps, previews can be posted and tagged to highlight individual segments and aspects of the show. One particularly striking series of posts compares runway looks with the designer’s original sketch.  

Three of these comparison images feature in the brand’s top ten Instagram posts for the week, with the highest-placed one earning 409,251 engagements in total. It’s a clever way of juxtaposing imagination with reality – the lavish images capture the spectacle of the night, while also highlighting the artistry and effort that goes into creating signature looks for the show.

Model Engagement

One thing which becomes clear from this piece is the importance of the models themselves as social media presences for the brand. Victoria’s Secret utilises this more so than many other fashion brands, with its longstanding tradition of contracting a number of models (known as “angels”) to promote lines. It’s interesting that one of the biggest posts on the company’s Instagram page this past week links to an interview in which a number of models discuss their following on social. The group of names in question have over 18 million followers between them, and the boost in profile and recognisability afforded by a Victoria’s Secret contract has been alluded to by models.

In this context, it’s notable that two of the new faces in this year’s show are prolific presences on social. Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid each have a huge following on social media, with Jenner’s Instagram alone boasting over 43 million followers. Their presence in the show offers the brand a huge social media boost and, in particular, helps push it into the feeds of younger users.

tonight ?   A photo posted by Kendall Jenner (@kendalljenner) on

Among the actual contracted “angels”, the most successful Instagram user is Candice Swanepoel. The South African model has been heavily featured by the brand over the last few years and in the week preceding the show’s broadcast, generated nearly 2.6 million engagements (13% of the interactions generated by the brand itself) on her page. She’s followed by long-time angels Alessandra Ambrosio and Adriana Lima, who respectively notched up 2.1 million and 1.6 million interactions on their accounts.

[bctt tweet=”The biggest @VictoriasSecret angel on Instagram? @angelcandice with 2.6m engagements around #VSFS2015″]

We’ll be taking a closer look at how fashion brands and publishers use social media channels, including Instagram, on the blog soon.

Got any other examples of successful strategies on Instagram? Drop us a line on Twitter or by email at contact at newswhip dot com

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Featured image via Wikimedia Commons


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