Over the past 10 years marketers have been gradually integrating social media into their marketing strategies. In my series of blog posts I will focus my research on how the fashion marketing has changed with the help of social media by analyzing a couple of companies, which successfully use social media as a marketing tool.
Fashion marketing then vs Now
There was a time when girls wanted to look at beautiful Prada shoes and they would have to buy Vogue Magazine or go into a store. If you were lucky to live in a big city there were big advertisements on buildings, but that was about it. Celebrities were and still are a very strong promotion tool. As long as the right celebrity is wearing the right dress, shown on TV and now on social media it can really make the sales go up. That old marketing technique is not dead, however marketers have found new methods to reach and promote fashion. The (not so) new anymore, marketing tool is social media, which in short translates to websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or participate in social networking.
Social media is integrated
Currently there probably isn’t a fashion brand, which does not own a profile on a social media platform, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. (unless the company is very tied to their brand concept, when the brand it is supposedly too exclusive and selling online is basically selling to anyone). The purposes of such profiles are multiple, starting with the fact that it helps in gaining an audience, by gathering likes or followers, from the people holding an account on the same social media website. What does a big number of followers do for the reputation of a company? – It shows people that this is a popular brand and people generally want to be part of the in crown, so they would like it as well. Over the past 5 years there are a lot of companies who have started their business by first creating awareness through a social media platform. They would create a ‘fan page’ where they would present themselves and start hyping the audience for what is about to come.
The second step after liking or following a brand page is getting the client interested to stay on it and ‘invite’ him/her into clicking on your website link. Facebook and Instagram are good platforms since they offer the same layout for every user however you can customize it with any picture, so you can place your company logo and current campaign photos on the profile. The visual side is very important to marketing in a way that there is research done on which colors and fonts attract people more and which do not, and this has resulted into some brands creating a special or a different format of their logo for their social media page.
Payed Advertisement on social media
Facebook and since recently Instagram have allowed brands to (buy) a place for their banners on the side of your news feed and with one click you get directed to either their profile or to their website. How do they know which company to advertise to which person? There are companies, including Facebook and Google, which specialize in gathering customer information, which means when a person is shopping online, his moves are tracked and saved in a file. This file eventually ends up for sale to companies, which have a certain list with audience they need to reach and when they buy the information, they only show their advertisements to clients within that group.
Brand’s profile (fan) page
Creating a brand page is not enough for a brand, a big part of the job is maintaining and regularly updating that page. It is easy to grasp the attention of a person, when bright colors or a tempting name is involved, however the brand wants to keep its visitor on the page and eventually redirect them onto their website, so they have to offer more than just that. A common type of content for a fashion brand ‘fan page’ is pictures of new campaigns and new products, features of celebrities wearing the brand as well as ads for promotions and sales. What some brands miss is that just pictures is not always good enough content, because people like to engage, they like to give their opinion and they like to be heard. This is something that brands need to take into consideration when writing a message to their audience – informative as well as engaging content. Maintaining a page – just as important as regularly updating it. It’s the Internet we are dealing with, it has its hacks and problems and you cannot always be responsible if your website goes down, but you can hire a good team to maintain it. There are other technical issues that could stand in the way such as pictures not being in right format for different devices or links that are not working properly. It is a lot of work to maintain a website but when clients face a lot of technical issues, the brand runs the risk of losing them.
Another marketing ‘tool’, which has become a whole industry is fashion blogging. It started around 10 years ago, when young girls and women decided to maintain their own blog, a social media platform, where they could provide the Internet with pictures of their personal style decisions as well as articles on fashion related topics. In the beginning fashion designers were not fans of fashion bloggers as a lot of them promoted second hand clothing or ways to create a high-end fashion look with cheap clothing. When companies saw that this trend is going in one direction and that is up, they decided to turn it around and take advantage of it. The strategy of the companies was and still is to find the ‘leaders’, the ordinary girls who had gathered a number of followers, and send them free clothing, which they have to advertise on their website by making photographs of themselves wearing the piece of clothing. The bloggers had different deals according to the reach they have, meaning sometimes they would get paid and keep the clothes that they have been sent, sometimes they wouldn’t get paid but only get to keep the clothes. Until the rise of Instagram this was a relatively cheap marketing strategy, however now it seems that brands are spending more on advertising through social media. Recently blogger Danielle Bernstein from the fashion blog ‘WeWoreWhat’ shared in an interview for Harper’s Bazaar how she charges brands a couple of thousand euros per picture for advertising, as well as the fact that her followers just went over 1 million, which meant she could start charging brands even more per advertisement.
Currently Instagram is probably the most used social media to advertise and a very quick way for brands to gain popularity. Brands, just like in Facebook can create their own page and people can subscribe to it. Furthermore, Instagram features, what started first in Twitter, a ‘hash tag’ which could be any word that has the symbol ‘#’ in front of it. The purpose of it is to gather all pictures containing the same hash tag in their caption and use this as a promotion tool.
Twitter is more of a marketing communication tool; its purpose in fashion is to inform on the latest fashion with short texts, a photograph can be included. However fashion is a very visual business, which makes this social media platform not the most suitable for advertising. Magazines like Vogue have a Twitter account and are being updated around 10 times per hour. What Vogue does is put a hyperlink and promote every single update on their actual website, which shows that they are creating new content constantly and at the same time it does not have a very high reach.
In my next post I will give examples of companies, which have adopted social media as marketing tools, so all of these theories start making sense.