Black Friday 2021 accounted for an estimated £9.42 billion in sales in the UK, approximately two thirds of which were made online.
Capturing the digital consumer during this pre-Christmas boom is imperative for many businesses and influencers are a fast way to convince customers a product is worth their hard-earned cash. In 2021, #blackfriday accumulated 623,000 posts on Instagram and 150 million views on TikTok. The digital frenzy around the event – set to fall on 25 November this year – has never been so heightened. Although Black Friday was initially a day-long event, these days brands will run offers for at least a week with some stretching it out for the entire month.
So, what actually works when it comes to engaging people in what is one of the busiest shopping milestones of the year? Consumers’ feeds are congested with ads and organic content – for marketers, understanding what gets cut-through has never been so crucial. At CORQ, we analysed the data of 10,000 influencer accounts to reveal the most engaging Black Friday adverts of 2021 on Instagram and help steer your brand strategy for this year’s activity.
Key insights on Instagram influencer partnerships from Black Friday 2021:
- Brands must be more rigorous in checking influencer platforms for tell-tale signs of bought audiences. Many of the influencer Black Friday posts we analysed had to be excluded from this project as the engagement was clearly bot-driven and not real.
- Ensuring the influencer quantifies the size of the Black Friday discount and offers their followers a unique code is essential. The majority of the top performing influencer adverts from 2021 had at least one of these elements.
- The environmental impact of Black Friday is such a talking point that brands with sustainable credentials would do well to use this to their advantage throughout the 2022 event.
- Influencers promoting the Black Friday sales of brands they had founded engaged consumers more than content created by influencers to promote mainstream businesses they were generally unattached to. This is partially because they positioned themselves as the underdog and explained that discounting their products was not something they did casually. Those who attracted significant attention in 2021 were Aine Carlin, Courtney Daniella Boateng and Kelly Prince Wright.
- Visual cut-through is essential – brands should work with influencers who are able to deliver content which is slightly different to their usual work and enough to stop the followers scrolling.
Before we get started on the top ten influencer adverts of Black Friday 2021, a warning: this rundown should be seen as a guide rather than a gospel. A lot has changed in the past year – from the rise of Reels as a necessity to the ability to “pin” content which skews perception of what actually engages an influencer’s audience. On top of this, the continuing impact of TikTok means social media as a whole has never been so trend driven, and the trend cycle has never been so short. Lastly, many influencers deleted their Black Friday content within days of the promotion ending. If you need campaigns to remain on creator platforms through the festive period or longer, ensure you state this in your contract.
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Another key point: the most engaging posts of Black Friday were by creators calling out the negative environmental impact of the retail event. Sustainability activist and broadcaster Venetia La Manna went deep on Pretty Little Thing’s ethics via a fact-filled zine-like carousel which garnered a 27% engagement rate. Activist Laura Young published a similarly information-heavy post which had a 14% engagement rate. All influencer adverts promoting Black Friday at very best engaged 7% of the influencer’s audience.
Creator content that performed well generated solid audience interest – not just via likes but questions and conversations in the comments. Consumers had in-depth queries about products which were discounted but still being retailed for a significant price and creators delivered answers. Black Friday is often regarded as a moment for brands which are willing to drop to bargain basement price points in order to cater to spontaneous spenders. For businesses that are selling long-lasting products requiring a bigger spend, 2021 proved influencer input is essential.
Top 10 best performing influencer adverts from Black Friday 2021…
1. Terrie McEvoy: the lifestyle creator posted a carousel of herself modelling a glam look from Nasty Gal, sharing a mammoth 72% discount code for her followers if they downloaded the brand’s app. Simple and to the point (ENGAGEMENT RATE: 7%).
3. Fiona Irene AKA Fresh Skin Appeal: a different approach from the beauty creator which paid off. Rather than working directly with a specific brand, she curated all of the products she had been gifted in 2021 that she would recommend buying in Black Friday deals. Smart (ENGAGEMENT RATE 5%).
4. Samantha Evira: the beauty creator showcased her favourite products by Iconic London via a fresh-faced makeup tutorial while sharing the brand had discounted by 30% for Black Friday and was offering customers a free gift too. Interestingly, her followers not only engaged with the video but also noted how much they love the fact she does not use filters. This suggests that even when prices are low, consumer trust in the influencer is imperative to ensure campaigns perform during such a competitive time of year (ENGAGEMENT RATE 4%).
5. Ashlee Coburn: the lifestyle creator produced a cute Reel with Gym Plus Coffee sharing that the brand was offering 50% off. Making the video even more compelling to her followers was that she did it with her husband, who usually does not appear on her channels (ENGAGEMENT 4%).
6. Chloe Veitch: this is an interesting one. The reality star produced a video in partnership with sex toy brand Lelo but the engagement rate was partially due to how divisive this was. Why? She kissed a vibrator. Some people were fine with this, others were not (ENGAGEMENT RATE 4%).
7. Sarah Stevenson: the lifestyle creator chose an emerald green outfit from White Fox Boutique to promote its 30% off Black Friday sale which her followers loved (especially the shoes). She also shared a discount code (ENGAGEMENT RATE 3%).
8. Yasmine Camilla: here’s an example of how an influencer can make a product feel like it’s worth the spend. The lifestyle creator talked about Shark Home’s Black Friday deal for its cordless vacuum. But rather than going into detail on the cost, she talked about the technology behind the product and why it is a good buy for people with dust allergies. This made sense as Yasmine not only works in tech, but also has a dust allergy. Bingo (ENGAGEMENT RATE 3%).
9. Aja Barber: another interesting partnership that drove brand engagement and awareness for the right reasons. Barber worked with Lora Gene to highlight the people behind its clothes – the garment makers who are so often exploited in a culture of fast production. This demonstrated that Lora Gene was not trying to cash in on Black Friday and signing Barber to work with them reinforced that was a real commitment rather than virtue signalling (she is famed for sticking to her values) (ENGAGEMENT RATE 3%).
10. The Harte Sisters: former Team GB skiers Talia and Giulia did a cute dance to Olly Murs in Women’s Best, noting the brand’s sale only had a few days left. Extra points because they really looked like they were having a great time (ENGAGEMENT RATE 2%).
By Sara McCorquodale, CEO and founder of CORQ.