The fashion industry like other businesses has fallen behind the masses when it comes to adaptation to the power of Social Media Networking. Like other adopters—businesses are finding it harder to ignore modern-day influences currently shaping the industry-like social media. If you are among the percentage of retailers or businesses without a social media account, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat for your fashion business, keep reading.
Gone are the days when systematic supply chain protocols were paramount to operating your apparel business. With social media, you locate and directly connect with passionate customers to drive sales from the palm of your hand. Think of social media as another distribution outlet for your product. And, if you’ve been in the business of fashion long enough, you know what a direct-to-consumer sale can do for your profit margins.
Fun fact: Not all fashion brands are lacking in social media savvy. Did you know that Zara makes 45% of revenue from online strategies alone?
“It’s Not Overnight, and it’s Not Free. The Investment is Your Time. The return on investment (ROI) on your time invested in social networking is a double-pronged approach:
A direct sale (i.e a coupon promotional code which takes you from Tweet-to-Sale).
Qualitative Value brand awareness and affinity, repeat purchase, growing a database of people to communicate with over time.
From a marketing standpoint, social networking can help you get your business from Phase one: building brand awareness; to Phase 2: converting awareness into sales.
It’s comforting to know that you don’t need to be on multiple social networking sites at once. Find a marketing strategist to help pinpoint the communities that work for your brand. Figure out your sweet spot and read up on etiquette for each social tool—to ensure that you are not driving your customer base away.
With Facebook, you can create a fan page, or group for your brand that reaches out to your customer database or “friends” with updates, promotions, and messages. Think about this: What value do you have to offer? Why would someone join your face book page?
With Twitter, you gain “followers” instead of friends. The updates are more frequent, but word count is limited. The pace is set at “real time” with Twitter—which can be advantageous for an immediate call to action. (i.e tweeting about a sale, as its happening, can drive more people to your store during sale hours).
And more recently, Instagram is an excellent tool for geo-location-based marketing. It helps you regionally target followers and friends in your area (i.e, if you notice customers have “checked in” at a nearby location, you can post a discount or sale offer for the afternoon to entice them to drop by your store).
With an interactive approach to marketing with new media, there is no longer a curtain between customer and designer; real people want to connect with other real people. Having a story or human element attached to your brand will give it legs to keep moving forward. Not to mention, it will give bloggers and journalists a reason to spread the word like wildfire. And going “viral” on the internet is like hitting the jackpot.
Questions to consider when cultivating your brand voice, concept and persona.
- Who is the face of your brand?
- What is your brand story/key differentiators?
- Who is your target customer?
- How are you going to communicate visually and verbal about your brand persona?
Remember, with your social media, be authentic about who you are—think of your brand as being more than just business. When tweeting or blogging, feel free toss a few personal updates into the mix. Transfer real-life communication and conversation into social media technology. Go beyond the direct sale channel and build a community of people who are committed to you and to support what you do.
Tips for businesses just starting with social networking:
- Stay abreast of what your competitors are doing online.
- Stay on top of the guidelines, restrictions, and legalities appointed by the FDA.
- Work on building relationships with bloggers who will help spread the word. Remember: when you connect with one “friends” or “followers” you also potentially connect with their networks.
- When starting out, sometimes it helps to listen and learn. Keep an eye on what others are talking about, and what they are saying about your brand.
- Identify and reach out to people who already love your brand. Use Passion. If you are passionate about your brand, consumers will follow suit.
Your subscription base should be quality over quantity. It’s not always about how many friends or fans you have. It’s better to have a smaller, passionate group of supporters vs. a massive, complacent following.
It’s often easier to have a blog component built into your already-established site to monitor and manage your own domain. If you are going about social networking on your own, do your research. Know your customer and demographic. Learn where they spend their time online and figure out the patterns in their online behavior.
- Do Build specific content designed to convert those customers to take specific action.
- Do Assign specific goals around different marketing campaigns.
- Do Track and report your strategies- did you hit your goal? If not modify and optimize over time, Alternate between a combination of direct sales strategies and building brand affinity.
- Do Create your own personality-have fun, be a thought leader and be consistent, (i.e tips for Tuesdays) this drives repeat, or what is known as “sticky” traffic to your site.
- Do Monitor and pay attention to comments and feedback on your blog. With technologies like Google Analytics, a program that allows you to regionally asses where your website traffic is coming from you can monitor and target specific consumer behavior.
- Do Put your blog on your own domain vs. a blogspot.
- Do make your blog site compatible with mobile applications. The percentage of online users accessing the internet via hand-held devices is growing exponentially.
Social Networking is Circling Back Toward Nurturing Relationships Offline. More people are experiencing the internet on-the-go. Products like iPhones, Ipads, and mobile applications are creating a demand for M-commerce (the buying and selling of goods and services through wireless handheld devices). Wireless communication and integrated technologies lend themselves to location-based marketing and experimentation with augmented realities.
The foreseeable consumer, fixated with instant gratification, will notice a crossover between entertainment, consumerism and social media. (i.e: if you’re watching a video online, you’ll be able to buy featured merchandise, on demand. Or, perhaps products on a city billboard can be ordered and shipped to your address, via the press of a button on your PDA). Online experiences will drive offline encounters and social networking will become a holistic approach to marketing communication.