Filed under: and now, for something completely different… Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be an in-depth analysis of so-called case studies involving digital influencers, awareness campaigns and free swag. Just a few straightforward observations (maybe even insights) about this little-spoken-of confluence of fashion design and digital navel-gazing that the cynics among us might point out could very well be a sort of marriage made in heaven. While that’s neither here nor there, here’s what we got out of that information:
1. Leverage events.
Events like New York Fashion Week (and design houses participating in them) are now leveraging social media to increase their reach and penetrate markets. Case in point: Marc Jacobs gained over 5,000 new Twitter followers in one week by leveraging its digital presence during the fall event. Michael Kors gained an impressive 15,000 in the same time frame. Victoria Beckham (while not in Paris watching DB play for PSG) managed to gain 53,000 followers that week.
If your industry has big events, use them. It doesn’t matter if it’s CES, the Oscars or the Detroit auto show. Starting today, your business is going to have a digital/social media plan in place before you attend your industry events. Not taking advantage of this magnet for media coverage and attention borders on negligent.
2. Rethink the world of the catalog.
Badgley Mischka & Bergdorf Goodman, understanding the potential power of Pinterest (think demographics and layouts) previewed their new collection exclusively on the platform. The result: almost 40,000 net new followers for their Pinterest account, after posting only 42 items. Cost of printing: zero. Cost of mailing: zero. Cool factor: high. Virality quotient: high.
3. Context is king.
Sometimes, a product is just a product. But anything that speaks to both an appreciation for original design and its owner/user’s sense of cultural identity is bound to be incorporated into someone’s photo feed. Enter Instagram. Whether you think the whole thing is an orgy of vanity or a cute little phase humanity is going through right now doesn’t matter. Fact is that people like to take pictures of themselves and of their stuff and post those pictures on Facebook and Instagram and wherever else they can. Some companies approach this with suspicion if not apprehension. Others embrace it completely. The fashion industry finds itself in a very unique position in regards to this whole cultural phenomenon because its entire existence is predicated upon people wanting to look good and be socially desirable. In other words, if Pinterest is a natural extension of the catalog, Instagram and Facebook are the natural extensions of people’s own private catwalks and red carpets. Some numbers:
Over 650,000 people follow Burberry’s Instagram account. 500,000 people follow Marc Jacobs’ Instagram account. Gucci: 350,000. Kate Spade: 300,000. And so on. You get the idea. And don’t cringe (especially you serious photographers out there) but 73 Instagram photos from New York Fashion Week were accepted into Getty Images’ library. Yes… times, they’re a-changin’. It isn’t a bad thing either: empowering people to share your products in a way that gives them both approval and context creates a free engine of discovery and recommendation. You want net new customers? You want to get people to covet your products and get off the fence about buying them? Well there you go.
4. Understand your key channels.
Sure, most of the channels you want to focus on are no-brainers: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, Instagram, and so on. But there might be some niche channels you need to leverage as well. For the fashion world right now, one of them seems to be Pose. The platform a) uses a user co-creation model to curate collections of “looks” that users can browse and b) integrates a shopping into the experience.
What’s the big deal? 1,000,000 users and 120 million images viewed per month. How many people are opening your emails or taking time out of their day to come by your website?
Plant seeds in all the smart places. Not just where everyone else is planting theirs either. Plant them also in places where people come specifically to find the kind of stuff you want to sell.
5. Use infographics no matter what your industry is.
No need to go into lengthy explanations about this one. We would have probably never even heard of Pose had it not been for that infographic.
Lesson: It doesn’t matter if your business only sells peanut-shucking machines to the tabby aristocracy in the Democratic Republic of Catistan (yes, it’s… a real place): use infographics to help potential customers discover your company and your products.
6. Use hashtags.
One of several common denominator in all of those wins: the use of specific hashtags. Now, wait a minute… we know what you;re going to say: hashtags aren’t necessary or cool anymore. Well, half of that is just nonsense. While it’s true that they aren’t necessary for monitoring purposes, they are nonetheless helpful. Here are three reasons why: Identity, virality and measurement.
Identity: they provide context for social content. Virality: they’re social objects that invite participation and sharing. Measurement: necessary or not, they do make monitoring, measurement and reporting a little easier for your digital team. Using the attached infographic as an example, imagine how much of a pain it would be to effectively track every mention of New York Fashion Week without the #NYFW tag. By creating official hashtags, you help bring clarity and order to what might otherwise be an incoherent mess of social mentions.
7. Monitor digital channels for key activity.
Monitor and measure mentions, followers, comments, shares. Do this qualitatively and quantitatively. Measure that against visits to your websites, visits to your stores, impact on sales volume, brand awareness and brand sentiment. Use the proper tools. Use the proper methodology. Treat this stuff like the job it is and not an afterthought. Treat social channels as the product discovery channels they are and strive to understand the mechanisms by which your social content and activity ultimately drives sales. It isn’t that hard, but it’s work and when you treat it like work, it pays off. Big time.
The Tickr team