They’re two of the most iconic department stores in New York, but just how well are Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys using social media? We used Social Bakers to take a look at these two US retail giants and see whether they are making the most of their brands online.

Despite being a mere ten minute walk down the street from each other, Barneys and Saks are already miles apart when it comes to Facebook fans. Whilst Saks has a healthy 288,000 fans, Barney’s has almost half with 162,000.

But as we all know, it’s not just about how many ‘likes’ you’ve got but what you do with them that counts. In the battle of the department stores, who is really engaging with their customers in social media?

If we take a look at the ‘talking about this’ numbers for the two pages, Barney’s has 3,610 whilst Saks has 3,607, despite the greater number of fans. This suggests that Barneys must have a well thought-out content strategy which engages its audience much more effectively than Saks.

So what is this content strategy and how could Saks learn from it?

Think about when you post your content

First of all, looking at the data from Social Bakers, Barneys gets its best rate of engagement between 8-9am in the morning, whereas Saks gets a good (but not as high) rate around lunchtime.

Barneys also has a nice increase in engagement at around 9pm, whereas engagement on the Saks page has generally tailed off by this time.

This suggests that Barneys are making the most of those pre- and post-work Facebookers by posting earlier in the morning and later in the day. As we all know, social media never sleeps, but it looks like Saks may not have got to grips with this fact as strongly as Barneys has. Even if your staff work 9-5, they should be using the right tools to ensure that the page is pushing out content at the best times for your audience.

Think about what type of content you post

Interestingly, it looks like Barneys almost exclusively post links on their Facebook page. They create a strong call-to-action by posting links to great items in their stores with short, punchy copy such as “Flirty. Feminine. Floral”. It invites the fan to read, agree and hit those ‘like’ buttons, leading to an engagement rate of 0.06% on links compared to Saks’ 0.03% rate.

In contrast, Saks Fifth Avenue posts more varied types of content. Their main focus appears to be photos which are often posted using their ‘Involver’ fanpage tool. These photos don’t appear very big on their timeline, but still seem to get their highest rate of engagement with content on the page with 0.06% of fans interacting with these. However, they still do not manage to outstrip Barneys with any types of content.

It may be that Saks need to look at how their audience is responding to their content. Community management requires constant analysis of how your posts are going down with your audience – if something works well, it makes sense to experiment with posting it more often. Similarly, if something is not working for your fans, it may be worth looking at changing your approach or posting more infrequently.

Keep it short and simple

It is worth taking a moment to look at Barneys’ impressive 0.14% engagement rate on their status updates. Both pages post status updates, so why are fans interacting with Barneys more than with Saks? Have a read of the following updates and think about which one you are more likely to like or comment on…

It’s important to remember that Facebook fans have a notoriously short attention spans, so instead of asking them to try and figure out the sentence and fill in multiple blanks, Saks should be asking more short, simple questions like the one from Barneys.