H&M is rated as one of the world’s top 25 brands, so it’s a great candidate for one of our posts looking at how brands use the four main social networks.

It follows on from similar blogs looking at the social strategies of major brands including Nike, Red Bull, Walmart and John Lewis.

H&M has actually gone to the trouble of publishing the basis of its social strategy online. It states that through social media “millions of H&M fans and followers share ideas and opinions and get quick answers to their queries.”

It has official accounts on almost every major social network, including Chinese platforms Youku and Sina Weibo.

Unfortunately my Mandarin is a bit rusty, so for this post I’ll just focus on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+…

Facebook

H&M has attracted more than 14m fans to its Facebook page and posts several updates a day except on weekends.

Most of the updates focus solely on promoting its products, but in among the bog standard “buy these trousers” posts there are some really neat promotional ideas.

For example, the retailer clearly does a lot of blogger outreach and often links to third-party blog posts and articles on its H&M Life site.

Similarly, H&M has run several competitions recently that require fans to submit their own photos for a chance to win, which is a great way to encourage engagement that is relevant to the brand and more meaningful than just asking for a ‘like’ or retweet.

One example offered fans the chance to win tickets to Coachella by posting photos of their festival style on Tumblr using the hashtag #HMCoachella, while another asked entrants to post photos of their best ‘bike style image’ on Instagram using the hashtag #HMBikeStyle for the chance to win clothes from the H&M Brick Lane Bikes collection.

Another feature worth mentioning is H&M’s Autumn Collection 2013 app that it used to live stream its Paris fashion show in February.

It promoted the live stream with several posts inviting fans to enjoy “an exclusive front row seat” and a highlights package is still available on its Facebook page.

Though live streaming through Facebook isn’t necessarily a new idea, it is a good way of rewarding fans and giving them a reason to navigate to the brand page.

H&M also has several other apps, including links to its store locations, Brick Lane Bikes competition and one that allows users to buy an H&M gift card.

Looking at engagement, H&M garners a decent amount of user interactions for each post but product photo galleries appear to be the most popular updates, with each one gaining upwards of 30,000 ‘likes’ and hundreds of comments.

Twitter

H&M has created separate Twitter feeds for each of the local markets in which it operates, but each one uses the same background and header image so the branding is obviously closely controlled.

The feeds appear to be equally poor at responding to other users, with each tending to churn out marketing messages rather than answering queries or @mentions.

Looking at the main corporate account for example, it tweets a number of product images, links to blogs and competition promos each day, but generally responds to fewer than 10 @mentions. And most of the responses tend to simply be messages directing the query to the dedicated customer service feed.

The US and UK accounts adopt identical strategies, although the US feed is hindered by the fact that H&M doesn’t yet have an ecommerce site in the States so it’s unable to share links to products.

It’s quite common for brands to create a separate Twitter feed for customer service but H&M’s is unusually quiet.

While ASOS and Nike respond to hundreds of customers every day, H&M responds to between five and 10 @mentions per day which seems to be remarkably low in comparison.

It could simply be that H&M’s customers don’t use Twitter to contact the company, but it does seem odd that the number of conversations via social are so much lower than its competitors.

One noteworthy Twitter campaign by H&M recently was a Q&A with brand ambassador David Beckham.

The footballer responded to around 30 questions from fans using the hashtag #AskBeckham, including queries about his fashion mistakes, plans for the future and his favourite goal.

This is a great use of Twitter as it gives fans a unique opportunity to speak to a global celebrity, though it obviously required H&M to spend millions on sponsorship.

Pinterest

Though there is an H&M USA Pinterest account, but I can’t really tell whether it’s official or not.

I’d like to think it isn’t as it currently has zero boards, but occasionally brands do establish dormant accounts just to prevent anyone else from squatting in them.

Either way, the retailer is missing an opportunity by not taking part on Pinterest as other users are sharing its content in huge numbers.

A report in Adweek last month showed that during January Pinterest users interacted with H&M-related pins 145,000 times, however a “good number” of those pins featured dead links.

It found that one pair of H&M shoes had been shared almost 2,700 times in the previous 30 days, but clicking on the link returned a page that read, “Sorry, this item is no longer available.”

It’s inevitable that over time some pins will link to dead pages as products go out of stock or are discontinued, but by having a presence on Pinterest H&M may be able to maintain more control over which of its products are shared and the links that the pins contain.

Google+

H&M has more than 2.5m fans for its G+ page, which it updates on a daily basis, however as with most brands engagement remains relatively low.

Though the imagery used is always eye-catching the posts generally only attract a few hundred +1s and tens of comments.

In keeping with a number of other brands I’ve looked at, H&M duplicates content across its G+ and Facebook accounts which reduces the amount of work involved but also means there’s no real point in following both.

Overall it’s on par with some of the better G+ pages I’ve seen from other retailers, but it’s a reflection of the weakness of the platform itself that engagement is low and the ultimate impact is quite uninspiring.