Social media – changing business for good!

In the earlier days of social media use, many companies were not working the technology to its potential, some refusing to adopt it at all. As companies began to slowly integrate social media into their strategies, it was used predominately as one-way communication to sell, sell, sell. Finally, though, it seems that many companies are willing to break the traditional mould that they were so set in following, and social media has started to generate and nurture leads for many cutting-edge B2C companies! In our study of social media, let us analyse the fashion industry which has shown fantastic progression over the years, turning social media into the sales generator it is today.

Social media has found a permanent role in the marketing plans of every fashion label globally. Its ability finally recognised, social media is now used as an authentic interaction between brand and customer. The accessible, conversational nature of various social media channels makes it an ideal platform for building customer trust and loyalty – crucial components of fashion marketing. Most labels attempt to distinguish themselves in social media by offering promotions, perks, and discounts, along with personal online customer service.

While in-store sales have dropped, online retailers are currently enjoying a trading boost as the new-era style of social media use is driving sales by as much as 40%. High profile retailers have already reaped the online rewards in the past five years, turning posts into profits with click-to-purchase and flash sales. New research suggests that the value of social media for retail will more than double sales in the next two years.

Once labels and brands have set themselves up for social media use, they must put together their original and intriguing content to create conversation between brand and customer. Without this conversation, they are not optimising their chances of being found on search engines and throughout their preferred social media networks. A popular approach by many businesses is the use of the hashtag.

The hashtag begun as a way to trend a topic on Twitter. Since its popularity has grown, you can now use a hashtag on almost every social media platform available. Hashtags are still used to trend topics, but can also be used as a searching tool. On the ever-growing photo sharing application Instagram, by searching a hashtag you can now see thousands of images from users within or without your circle of “friends” who have used that hashtag to describe something in their image. This is an incredible way to reach your target market, along with potential customers from all over the world.

Another use of the hashtag that has come into play more recently by large brands, department stores and bloggers, is using the hashtag to start conversation and advertise new collections or products. The customers are encouraged to share related images of their own with the same hashtag to start a social media frenzy around the proposed topic. When done successfully, this heightens post visibility and helps to create conversation aimed at pushing the label beyond its competitors.

During New York fashion week, a study looked into data from several social networks and found that the public were using social media for wardrobe advice, inspiration and trends. Top fashion brands live-tweeted from the shows, with two labels even co-previewing their collections exclusively on Pinterest. Fashion-related tweets have doubled from last year’s events and professional photographers made use of Instagram, which allowed the general public to view the show in “real time”.

Once the content has been posted and is gaining likes, comments, feedback, retweets and conversational activity, it is time to collect your statistics. By gathering this data you can quickly gain insights that will help determine your content for future posts.

Notable fashion report network InfiniGraph is an an online program that serves its purpose by gathering your data, analysing your average fan count, average engagement levels (interactions) per post, content types that create the most engagement (link, offer, photo, status, video) and even the leading days and time-of-day to post content types.

The overall key to creating successful content that will show results is to ensure you set your objectives for your community prior to launch. Knowing what you want to achieve before you start will help you develop and measure the results you are looking for. By taking a fresh approach to social media, your company too can separate itself from your competition, and launch your company into social stardom!

John Englezos
John Englezos

John Englezos is the Founder of Inbound Guru, an Australian inbound marketing agency. When he isn't increasing his client's digital marketing performance, he can be found playing his '74 Strat or rooting for the New York Jets.