The Top Food Brands on Social This Holiday Season

December 21, 2015

Written by NewsWhip

Tis the season to stuff our bellies. The holidays are a time of cooking up special recipes, indulging in festive favorites, and leaving cookies out for Santa.

The holiday preparations carry over to social media. Many food and beverage brands are used to making creative seasonal content for other mediums. Ads like Santa and the M&Ms “They do exist!” videos, the Coca-Cola polar bears, and the famous Starbucks red cups are ingrained in our annual holiday culture.
Using our Spike dashboard, we looked at the food and drink brands that are driving the most social engagement in their holiday content of 2015. On Instagram, the iconic red cups were champions, but how did food brands stack up across all social media?

Starbucks takes on Instagram with over 250,000 likes on their top Xmas content!

Recipes are Number One

On Facebook, a Betty Crocker recipe video for sugar cookie M&M bars drove over 3 million views. Part of their 24 Days of Cookies series, the post had over 58,000 likes, 3,100 comments, and a tremendous 122,000 shares
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The video is short at 41 seconds long, square (perfect for mobile!), doesn’t need sound, and encourages users to try the recipe themselves. The instructions are listed as big, readable captions. As we saw in our top Facebook video of the year by BuzzFeed Food, these short and easily replicable video recipes are instant hits.
Video series prompt users to click through to see what the the other recipes are. The series is an advent calendar for the holiday baker and brand, keeping that social engagement up day after day. Recipes are a smart area of content as people are searching now for ideas for Christmas treats.

Celebrities and Brand Partnerships Create Social Synergy

Is Gordon Ramsay a brand by now? He has restaurants with his name, popular TV shows including “Hell’s Kitchen”, “Kitchen Nightmares”, “MasterChef”, and “MasterChef Junior” franchises, and over 20 published books.
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Our second biggest holiday brand content was this photo of Gordon climbing atop his MasterChef co-star Graham Elliot to build a tree made of Ferrero Rocher chocolates. The photo had over 122,000 likes, 2,200 shares, and 1,100 comments.
Speaking of Ferrero Rocher, the Italian candy brand has been busy with their own abundance of holiday cheer—their Facebook page has photo after photo of Christmas posts decorated by the chocolates.
Celebrity endorsements are an effective tactic on social, as we’ve seen before in some of our sports insights. Since both Gordon Ramsay and Ferrero Rocher are brands, working together only boosts their own engagement.

We Want Candy! And Special Editions!

Ferrero Rocher isn’t the only holiday candy in our social stockings. Twix’s announcement of their special-edition flavor of gingerbread was one of the best holiday posts on Facebook.
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The post had over 115,000 likes, 24,000 shares, and 6,500 comments, showing just how fanatic people are about sugar.
Limited edition content has the added factor of driving a “gotta catch them all” mentality in people who don’t want to miss out on a new treat before it’s gone. This is a tactic that food brands already know—there are always special versions for holidays, be it Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Easter or otherwise.

Supermarkets Get in on the Game

If you’re baking up a batch of holiday cookies or looking for candy to stuff stockings, you’ll likely be off to the grocery store. Even supermarkets are setting up for Santa.
Two of our most-engaging Facebook brands posts were from the supermarket chains Kroger and Publix.
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Kroger used the internet meme of pet shaming, and invited followers to write about their own pet mishaps of the season. Animals are always a good tactic for substantial engagement. The post received over 1,600 comments, with many photos of pets causing holiday havoc.
The picture is part of their 25 days long #CheerChallenge, encouraging followers to create and share pictures for different holiday themes leading up to Christmas. This follows two content strategies of allowing users to feel part of a community, and to feel they’re creating and sharing valuable content of their own.
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Publix gave their Facebook followers an early peek at their Christmas present—err, Christmas ad. At an ideal 1-minute long, the video reached over 4.5 million views on Facebook.
The video saw success through its family-centric and sentimental impact, engaging tactics we talked about in our holiday content insights. There were over 58,000 likes, 21,000 shares, and 3,300 comments.

Santa Wears Red, and Do Does His Coffee

It’s all about the red cups. While Facebook wasn’t the biggest propeller of engagement for Starbucks, the coffee brand steals Christmas on Instagram. Our top Instagram posts were all from Starbucks, and their top holiday photo had over 281,000 likes.

In addition to the likes, the post had over 1000 comments. The red cup is a splash of color against the iconic winter wonderland snow. Not only is it a beautiful picture, but Starbucks used a ‘regram’, or a reposting of another Instagram user’s picture. This drives engagement by the brand showcasing one of their fans, and makes fans feel appreciated and included.
Perhaps because of the red cup ‘scandal’ this year, Starbucks’ holiday content is receiving even more attention. And not just on Instagram. On Twitter, Starbucks uses more high-quality visuals that center in on their iconic red cups and coffees.

Their top holiday Twitter post was very similar to the Instagram one, featuring a new drink made to embody the holidays. With nearly 9,000 likes and 2,000 retweets, it’s clear that Starbucks coffees have become a holiday favorite. The one we featured above had over 5,800 likes and 1,600 retweets, but showed Starbucks’ use of hashtags, tutorial photos, and unofficial holidays that still have to do with the Christmas season.
Starbucks actively responds to the comments left on their Twitter posts, letting their followers know they are listening and value their feedback.

Food and Drink Brands Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas

With 21% of Americans being always online, and 76% of Americans never turning off their phones, every holiday can now be experienced through web and social. People snap their Christmas dinners on Snapchat, pin enviable holiday treats to Pinterest, and discuss what recipes to break out on Facebook and Reddit.
Food brands are staying savvy by keeping themselves part of the holiday conversation on social.
The brands that are winning social engagement know how to use the tactics that work: interactive campaigns, visual content, use of populars memes, and directly communicating with followers.
We’ll find out which food brands won our hearts on Christmas when we open our presents and sit down to our holiday meals. Until then, let the social media content snow!

What’s Next:

1) Take a free trial of Spike to see the brands that are on social media’s holiday list

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