Cut-throat, self-absorbed, gratuitous – all words that have been used to describe the fashion industry. However, it’s also exciting, fast-paced, versatile and beautiful; all things that make the brands that make it up perfect candidates for social media marketing.
Brands like ASOS, Topshop, Burberry and Cath Kidston have all become big names among not just fashion and lifestyle circles themselves, but marketing circles too. They really know how to leverage social media to increase brand awareness, nurture leads and even drive sales, with Burberry in particular creating some really memorable campaigns.
You don’t have to be a big established name to leverage social networks though. The fashion industry is lucky in that it’s made for practically every social network out there, meaning smaller, growing fashion brands have a whole heap of opportunity before them just waiting to be snapped up. You just need to know which type of content is best suited to each platform, ensuring the users present there are seeing just what they want to and your accounts are constantly performing at their best.
First though, there are a few things you should take into account before you dive in and get started.
Social media for growing fashion brands – preliminary checklist
- Fill out your profile information properly. As well as your company bio that means your contact information, web address, shop address (if you have one), profile picture and cover photo. Don’t forget to use the same profile imagery across all platforms to provide continuity too.
- Verify your account. While this isn’t essential, it does create a trust factor among users viewing your profile and proves you aren’t a spam account. It’s also has high end connotations, as virtually all luxury fashion brands boast verified social media accounts (very encouraging to potential customers).
- Designate someone to manage your accounts. When you have multiple people taking care of your accounts you could end up with multiple tones of voice and differing views on how to handle things like complaints. A single, experienced manager working either in-house or at an agency will know how to do things right, and ensures no crucial information gets lost in translation.
- Sign up to a social media management app. Managing your accounts in-platform is fine to a certain extent, but management apps help make the process so much easier. Take Hootsuite. As well as being able to schedule future updates and monitor your feed, messages and engagement on one page, you can create Twitter lists to monitor everything from competitors to keywords! Take a look at this great post by Anthony to find out how you can utilise lists to find new local customers on Twitter.
- Put a process in place for dealing with negativity. From general negativity to complaints and trolls, make it clear how your social media manager should deal with each form of negativity. Rather than sending generic, “Call this number” responses, personalise it to each kind of problem and requirement.
- Create a content plan. Knowing loosely what you’re going to post before signing up for social media accounts eliminates that deer-in-the-headlights feeling a blank feed can induce.
Content ideas and where to post them
Rather than listing everything in the bullet point above, I’ve dedicated the rest of this post to outlining content ideas for growing fashion brands and which social network they’re best posted to. There’s plenty to work with here, but also countless more ideas already being implemented by big-name brands. But I couldn’t go giving away all the tricks of the trade could I?
So without further ado, let’s get started…
Offers, discounts and perks are a great way to keep current customers coming back and encourage prospects to make a purchase. They’re obviously a very customer-centric feature, so work best when pushed out using social channels that see some of the highest customer engagement. Twitter is great for a short, no waffle announcement, while Facebook and Google+ leave room for a longer body of text alongside a great image incorporating the discount or offer amount/information. Instagram, again, means you can post an eye catching image alongside your text.
New product launches
Social media platforms are the perfect place to build anticipation for a new product launch and to showcase new items. As well as posting images of your new products, or of parts of your new products, don’t be afraid to get creative and post pictures of the initial design sketches or even videos of the products actually being made, all alongside a hashtag your audience can use to create a conversation about the campaign. It’s all about teasing your audience and making them want to know more, like Topshop’s #WHOSTHATGIRL teasers.
When it comes to LinkedIn however, I’d take a more formal tack due to the business nature of the platform. Rather than a long-running launch campaign, post a press release or announcement that the new items are now online. With Pinterest, create a board completely dedicated to images of the new collection and what inspired it.
While you might be sick of all the hoopla surrounding blogging, it really is an essential tool for growing businesses. A blog provides an invaluable opportunity to showcase your expertise and establish your brand as an industry leader by posting original content that informs, entertains and engages your readers. Luckily for fashion brands the ways you can do this are almost limitless, you just need to think outside the box. Why not post:
- An introduction to your brand as your first post. You could even put a twist on it by taking a ’10 Things you Might not Know about Us’ format.
- Coverage of events you have attended.
- Competition launches and winner announcements.
- ‘Spotlight On…’ posts, featuring everything from someone/something that inspires you to a fashion trend, iconic item of clothing or one of your products. For example, ‘Spotlight On… Hedi Slimane’.
- ‘Ways to Wear…’ posts based around a certain trend or item of clothing. For example, ‘Ways to Wear… Tartan’.
- Your favourite looks or designers from big events like Fashion Week.
- City guides accompanied by outfit examples made up of your products.
- Posts focused specifically around your different buyer personas, for example, ‘Creating a Capsule Wardrobe on a Student Budget’.
- A series of posts following the progression of a hobby you have taken up. Are you teaching yourself photography or how to bake? Personal posts like these are a great way to show your brand’s more human, down to earth side.
Once published, these blog posts can be pushed out to virtually any social network to attract a larger readership, alongside an attractive image from each. Pinterest in particular has recently come into its own where blog post pins are concerned and created Rich Pins for articles.
The key with social media is not to come across as spammy and self-centred, which means posting updates that don’t relate directly to your business. Snippets of industry news are the perfect remedy, providing variety and showing that you’re passionate about the industry and take an interest in what’s going on, whether that’s Fashion Week or changes in a brand’s creative director.
As well as other industry blogs one of the best places to hunt down this news is on Twitter, especially if you have lists in place full of useful sources. Once you’ve created a list entitled, say, ‘Industry news’ and added in the best sources of news from your ‘Following’ list, spend some time each day auto scheduling the news you think your audience would most like to read. When it comes to Facebook and LinkedIn though, only post the most important and relevant snippets.
Company news is great to circulate around a wider number of social networks. Whether you’re hiring, launching a new product, appearing at a well-known event, launching a competition or anything else your audience would be interested in knowing about, make sure it reaches your social platforms.
While Instagram might seem like an odd choice for this section, as long as you have the right image to feature above your caption it’ll slot seamlessly into your stream.
Customer reviews and images
It must make you happy when you receive a lovely customer review or an image of a customer wearing your products, so show them how much you appreciate it! Post, retweet and repost reviews and customer images on Twitter and Facebook, and select your favourite images to upload to a Pinterest board named something like ‘Kind words from our customers’ with their review in the caption. When it comes to Instagram, don’t simply upload your favourite images sent into your other social networks. If a customer @ mentions you in an image on their account, repost it with a thank you and your thoughts on how they’re wearing your products. Carry out a hashtag search for your brand name as well to uncover images you may have missed.
Engagement with users
A surprising number of brands seem to ignore the ‘social’ part of social networking. While these platforms are great places to get the word out about your brand and share your content, they’re also an invaluable customer service tool. As well as building brand awareness you should be actively retweeting kind words and other relevant updates on Twitter, thanking users for repinning your content on Pinterest, and responding to comments, questions and complaints across all your social networks. Show users you care and you’ve already gone a long way in the lead nurturing cycle.
Social media provides a great opportunity to show potential leads that your brand has a human side that’s driven by passion and inspiration. Whether it’s a picture, a blog post or video of outfits you love, things that have inspired your products or something you just appreciate in general, it’ll give users a deeper insight into your brand and, who knows, maybe even inspire them too!
Pinterest in particular is great for stuff like this, and more suited to general interests and inspirations like films you love and recipes you can’t stop making. That’s if they suit the general tone of your brand of course; I can’t imagine a ‘Good eats’ board on Burberry’s account!
I could have included this point in the ‘Engagement with users’ section but feel it could do with a little more clarification. A lot of brands hear that posing questions to their followers and visitors is a great way of boosting social engagement, then go on to post the wrong kind of questions. Stuff like “How are you getting rid of the Monday blues?” is the usual offender and often posted by inexperienced brands.
Instead, you need to be asking questions whose answers will actually benefit your followers in some way or help you find out more about them. If you’re a growing fashion brand especially, asking users what they’d like to see you produce more of in the future or what they think you could improve on is a great way to net honest feedback and avoid wasting time and money on wild guesses. You could also ask them questions about themselves, for example, what do they look for in a certain product or what’s their favourite fashion trend?
Hosting a Q&A session via a Google+ hangout is rapidly gaining popularity as a medium of collecting customer feedback and information.
‘Wear it with…’ features
‘Wear it with…’ features are great fodder for social media. Big brands like ASOS and Topshop are already doing a similar thing with ‘Complete the look’ and ‘Why not try…’ panels on their product pages, but by taking the feature one step further and promoting it on your wider networks, you stand a chance of gaining much wider exposure.
Featuring it on your blog before pushing out the link on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest (on a specific Wear it With… board) and Instagram is good practice. However, there’s a lot of scope to get creative and film a video of yourself or a member of staff putting the look together rather than relying on static images. As well as uploading the video to YouTube, put together a short Instavideo too.
As you can see, social media for growing fashion brands is about more than simply posting pictures of your nicest dresses. It’s about thinking outside the box, exploring every aspect of your business (customers and potential customers included) and putting in some serious hard work. Social media success won’t happen overnight, but if you work hard and think about working some, or all of the content types listed above into your social media strategy, you’ll begin to see rewards in the longrun.
Has this post given you some food for thought, or have I missed something out? Leave a comment below with your feedback : )