Social media is used by brands to build their identity and expose consumers to their presence, in a way to increase sales and advertise their products/offerings. Platforms also often come equipped with data analytics to track post performance and growth, a phenomenon not previously possible. The image-based nature of most platforms means social media fits perfectly within the fashion industry; providing opportunities for online billboards one might say. So how have these little apps on our phone come to dominate our marketing strategies, and dare I say our own personal buying strategies?
Let’s explore how social media became its own marketplace and how you can use this within your brand management.
The Evolution of Marketing
It’s hard to imagine a world without social media, life would have looked very different. The possibilities and opportunities for businesses were relatively limited in comparison. A fashion brand would likely need its own brick and mortar store to even exist, small stores would probably only be known in the local area. Advertising in the newspapers and telephone marketing would constitute key marketing tactics, and TV and radio if you could afford it, a billboard if you could go even further. As technology advanced, the 1990s saw the rise of digital marketing hurtling into motion with the birth of the internet and personal computers. With the accessibility of the internet rapidly increasing, it became a powerful way to directly reach the consumer. Through websites and online advertisements, discovering brands became substantially easier, and not to mention cost-effective for business. Traditional marketing techniques were never forgotten, digital marketing just became the new focus, particularly for smaller brands and startups which can now simply exist online. Marketers can now reach people all around the world with one advertisement. The introduction of e-commerce alongside this truly revolutionalised the marketing world, laying the bricks for the perfect bridge between brands and social media.
Despite being officially created in 2003 with the introduction of Myspace, social media marketing didn’t officially begin for another three years, when Facebook widened their accessibility and subsequently initiated Facebook ads. Suggestibly, the first major social media marketing campaign was conducted by Coca Cola in 2012, involving users engaging with the ad by creating their own virtual can of Coke and sharing this with their Facebook friends. The social media platform saw an increase in traffic by 870%, and 76,000 virtual Coke cans were shared. The ingenuity behind this stemmed from simple business-to-consumer (B2C) interaction. This interactive nature has continued to evolve marketing strategies to become more personalised, in order to grow a relationship with consumers and encourage brand loyalty.
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In the meantime, video-streaming platform, YouTube, began rising in popularity. Here is where we see the beginning of influencer culture. The first generation of vloggers (e.g. Zoella, Tyler Oakley and PewDiePie) showed the riches these new social media platforms could bring. Brands flocked to them for partnerships and ads, with Zoella previously partnering with retail superstore Marks & Spencer and Very. Influencer/content creator culture has since skyrocketed, with everyone dreaming of the lavish lifestyle that comes with the job. Driven by the evolution of Instagram and TikTok, individuals can gain fame by simply posting engaging content, it goes without saying the power of online followers is incredible. TikTok videos and Instagram reels can be extraordinarily effective in increasing your brand’s popularity and exposure and are highly recommended as part of your social media strategy. Alas, this has led the way to the generation of micro (10K-100K followers) and macro influencers (100K+ followers). Partnering with influencers can be very useful in growing a brand, through the exposure that comes with posting to a large and engaged following. Want to find out more information about influencer marketing? Download our PR deck here.
How to Master the Art
After that very brief history of the transition to social media marketing, it’s time to learn how to put it into practice. To start at the very beginning, you need to think about how your brand’s social media accounts will look, the tone of voice you will display, what your competitor’s accounts may look like and your audience. It’s a process for sure, but all of this planning will be worth it. You will then have a clear idea of how the accounts can be visualised and what kind of content you can design. Once you move onto posting content, scheduling this using various online tools can be a huge time-saver. You’ll thank us later.
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The major platform a fashion brand should focus the most energy on would be Instagram. Its visual simplicity makes it ideal to promote your product as well as engage with consumers through friendly, informative captions and stories. Instagram has become so well-adapted to brands it now includes its own built-in shop platform, meaning it has never been so easy for viewers to find your products. Nevertheless, planning content in advance here is vital, viewers will be more drawn to your account if it looks aesthetic and put together. Essentially, this is the first thing they will likely see if they click on your account. Consider how your content looks when structured all together in your grid, e.g., here you will want to draw on the colour palette for your brand. Crucially, don’t neglect reels. Outsourcing this to a content creator may be an easier option than attempting it yourself if you are not yet confident, or simply don’t have the time
TikTok is another key platform to build your brand on, however it may take more planning and work, similarly to reels. The focus here is more on the engaging nature of the videos, as opposed to their aesthetics. Although both would be an absolute bonus. Many ongoing TikTok trends are seemingly quite persistent, so maybe try some “Get ready with me(s)” (GRWM) or a series on how to style your lingerie collection for example. TikTok has become an incredibly powerful tool for engaging consumers, individuals are now using it like a search engine to find new products or brands, making it a great way to get discovered. Similarly to Instagram, its in-app shopping feature, “TikTok Shop”, has made it almost too easy to discover a product and purchase it in a matter of minutes. Don’t ask how I found that out…
On a completely different vibe, your brand will need a LinkedIn page. This more serious platform is designed for professional communication, such as recruiting campaigns and customer service. This will also require content planning and design, however, as you still want your posts to attract engagement to build your brand awareness. LinkedIn is also useful for personal branding, for those entrepreneurs who are willing to be the face of their brand. Grace Beverly, founder of the rapidly growing activewear brand, Tala, is a great example of this.
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