International Women’s Day (IWD) has become a significant annual moment for brands whose target market is female. It is a day to launch conversations, position your business as being dedicated to gender equality and an opportunity to facilitate storytelling about the unique experience of being a woman by working with a key influencer.
Unsurprisingly, influencers are now key to brand activations on IWD. They specialise in making the deeply personal relatable and can be counted on to start discussions around issues brand partners care about.
However, having crunched the data, we found that this year the majority of brands opted to celebrate IWD via product giveaways and straightforward sponsored posts. In the latter, influencers positioned the brands as being ones that empowered them – a move that makes sense, but unfortunately performed poorly. The average engagement rate for sponsored content on IWD 2022 landed at 1%, signalling campaigns failed to capture the target demographic. The exception to the rule? Clara Holmes, who worked with Google Pixel to share how she accepted and embraced her disability through content which had a 6% engagement rate.
In more positive news, organic influencer content performed brilliantly. Creators used the day to share raw stories of overcoming heartbreak, the realities of juggling motherhood with careers and the magnificence of the female body. There were also posts detailing the challenges women still face. Gender equality remains an ambition.
Statement making illustration (see this post by Sakina Saidi) also seemed to capture the mood as did posts in which influencers celebrated the women who had provided crucial support and inspiration. Notable of this genre was Jack Harries’ dedication to his partner Alice Aedy. There was also brilliant satire – riffs on how female success has been commodified on Instagram. See this Reel by Grace Campbell on “girl bossing” which returned an engagement rate of 4%.
Brands should consider review this rundown of what worked organically to inform future IWD campaigns – storytelling about the female experience was adored and celebrated. It is worth taking this route in 2023.
Top 10 best performing organic influencer posts from International Women’s Day 2022
1. Kreena Dhiman: a cancer survivor, Kreena shared a moving Reel documenting how the disease stole her fertility and celebrating the surrogates who allowed her to have her family. Surrogacy is an emotive and complex issue but this video succinctly documents how Kreena rebuilt her life post-cancer with the help of other women – and that is worth celebrating (ENGAGEMENT RATE 11%).
2. Sarah Leighton: the adventurer posted a humorous Reel sharing how hiking and mountain climbing looks on Instagram vs her reality of being in great wild outdoors. The success of this post reflected the widespread positive reaction to content that was frank, funny and truthful (ENGAGEMENT RATE 10%).
3. Rae Morris: the musician shared a post of her breastfeeding her daughter Marla backstage before a gig in Birmingham – an ode to women everywhere multi-tasking to make it all somehow work (ENGAGEMENT RATE 9%).
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4. Isabella/ Spotty Little Thing: the beauty blogger posted a GRWM Reel overlaid with text from a Rupi Kaur poem about women being so much more than their appearance. It was creative, sensitive and captured the attention of the beauty creator community (ENGAGEMENT RATE 8%).
5. Harpreet Kaur: the broadcaster posted a shot of her onstage at the Royal Albert Hall entertaining an enormous audience noting it’s important for girls to dream big and work towards what they want. She admitted her journey has not been easy but it has been worth it (ENGAGEMENT RATE 7%).
6. Ropo Demure: the lifestyle creator used IWD to highlight the importance of women’s health and to encourage her followers to ensure they are getting check ups and looking after themselves. She also celebrated one year since she had her ovarian cysts removed along with images from her time in hospital (ENGAGEMENT RATE 7%).
7. The Step Up Club: Alice Olins – founder of the coaching business – dedicated IWD to the women of Ukraine in a post highlighting how they have responded to Russia’s invasion. Those who have learned how to make Molotov cocktails, taken up arms and fled danger with few possessions to keep their children safe. She also noted Polish women are leaving pushchairs at Medyka Station for Ukrainian mothers arriving with nothing – women supporting women, no matter what (ENGAGEMENT RATE 7%).
8. Sophie Bradbury-Cox: the lifestyle creator shared a gallery celebrating disabled women with the aim to smash any incorrect assumptions about the reality of living with disability. She noted disabled women can be “sexy, fashionable, mums, independent, capable” and honoured the women she is inspired by (ENGAGEMENT RATE 6%).
9. Bethany Moore: the fashion creator and entrepreneur shared photography of her extensive tattoos and celebrating her confidence. Strong, beautiful and unique (ENGAGEMENT RATE 6%).
10. Sali Hughes: the beauty editor shared a paragraph written by feminist Joyce Stevens the year she was born. It communicates the fury and frustration she felt as a woman almost five decades – and it’s all still completely true and relevant in 2022 (ENGAGEMENT RATE 6%).
By Sara McCorquodale, CEO and founder of CORQ. Picture credit: Clara Holmes for Google Pixel via Instagram. For the full data report on the top 50 best performing influencer posts from #IWD2022, contact CORQ’s client services manager Emily Clark on firstname.lastname@example.org.