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The growth of social media and online connectivity, not only through the proliferation of e-commerce platforms and marketplaces but the advent of social selling via the range of social media tools has driven the fashion industry into a new dimension. Earlier generations of established fashion houses are now seeing increasing competition from smaller more digitally nimble brands that are bringing fashion trends from the drawing board to the consumer far faster than the four-seasons-a-year fashion weeks. Fashion bloggers have taken over the mantle of the likes of Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazar in bringing the latest in fashion trends to the end consumer. The latter have also multiplied in numbers from the select few thousand who could afford the exclusivity of fashion houses to the masses who have discovered high fashion is no longer restricted to the Guccis, YSLs and Armanis, but have gone to embrace cutting edge designers like Michael Kors, Rebecca Minkoff, Kate Spade and Tory Burch.
How does a new designer looking to create a unique space within this gamut of old and new stars establish a brand? Let’s start off with an understanding of the various digital and social media tools that can be used, and how best to leverage them.
Facebook: with over 1.2 billion users worldwide, this is one platform that no fashion brand, no matter how small or large, can afford to miss. Using Facebook fan pages and the timeline feature, Facebook allows brands to post images, updates, video and other forms of visual communication to its followers. Facebook Video has now grown to volumes that represent a credible challenge to rival YouTube, making it a channel to watch and use. Besides these, the use of Facebook ads is increasing as it allows advertisers to target specific audiences based on a variety of demographic attributes. Facebook has also implemented a Buy button on ads as well as Page posts to enable viewers to directly buy merchandise from these ads and pages.
- Facebook Fanpage of women’s fashion brand – Rebecca Minkoff
Instagram: the image sharing app with over 400 million active users has enabled both targeting and shopping functions on the app, allowing brands to reach customers directly with their products. This is a huge advantage to boutique fashion designers who may appeal to a niche but have limited resources to reach out to their target audiences. Instagram allows you to take advantage of trending hashtags to promote relevant content as well.
- Instagram allows fashion brands to to post images, upload videos and sell merchandise with the SHOP NOW or BUY NOW buttons
- Instagram image tiling
Twitter: The next most popular social media channel, Twitter provides brands an unlimited opportunity to reach out to audiences and promote their products. Twitter has also gained significant currency as a social media channel to resolve customer issues, and many brands have used Twitter advertising to promote products. Hashtags remain Twitter’s biggest draw as attracting particular segments, spreading information on promotions and offers is made so much easier through their use. Twitter too has a Buy Now button to allow followers of the brand to directly purchase in real time. Using followers, keywords and tailored audience features, fashion brands can reach the exact demographics they’re looking to target.
- With buy buttons customers can now buy merchandise from the brand’s twitter page.
Pinterest: With nearly 200 million users Pinterest gives rival Instagram a good fight, providing options for image sharing, brand building and customer connect. The Pinterest boards allow a user (such as a fashion brand) to set up different sections where images relevant to the topic of that board can be shared. These boards can also be made private or restricted to a definite number of individuals, such as past customers, allowing designers to showcase their collections in advance to get feedback and reviews from genuine buyers. Pinterest’s Buy button, called Buyable Pins has a similar features to the other buy buttons allowing users to buy products without leaving the app environment.
- Pinterest buy button is an effective tool for directing customers to buy merchandise with one click from the image itself.
While these are not the only social media apps that can be used by fashion brands to promote, share, sell and interact, they are among the most wide-reaching and cost-effective solutions, making it possible for small fashion brands to create, build and maintain followers and loyal audiences who will support and promote an upcoming fashion brand.
What are you doing to take advantage of the features on these platforms? I’d love to hear your stories. Do add your comments below or write to me here.
Supriya Ghurye is the founder and owner of Fuel4Fashion. She is a Freelance Fashion Designer, Sourcing and Manufacturing Consultant helping fashion brands to plan, design and develop new collections with small quantity garment manufacturing. Fuel4Fashion social links: Twitter, Pinterest Instagram