This is the first half of a two-part series that aims to walk you through the easy but not-as-straightforward path to promoting your fashion business on social media networks. This first section will serve as the lede, letting you in on what you need to know before taking that social plunge.
Get a pen and piece of paper (bonus points if it’s lined). All set?
Unless you have been living under a rock buried in a deep well in the middle of a desert; located in a planet on a galaxy light years away, you will be acutely aware that social media is one of the best things to happen to marketing since early man bashed a rock on the ground to make the first sharp-edged tool.
It may have started out as a social networking tool. Social in this case inferring personal connects, but it has metamorphosed into one of the greatest inventions of modern-day man. And not just on the marketing front.
It has grown into a powerful tool that has been successfully deployed. To influence election results in the United States and other parts of the world. It has been used to drive regime changes, most notably the Arab Spring uprisings in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt.
It has completely changed the way the world responds to natural disasters. Whether it be getting a feel of the actual situation on the ground or raising funds. Think the 7.0 earthquake in Haiti, the 8.2 earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan in 2011. Or the Chilean miners’ disaster – and dozens more. One only imagines how it would have influenced the response to Hurricane Katrina.
At a personal level, social media has grown personal brands out of individuals. And birthed many a micro-celebrity along the way – social media influencers, socialites, vloggers. And who-not – not to mention spawning otherwise non-existent high-paying careers. Social media managers, Social media analysts, Social media marketers and more.
If the Internet made the world a global village, social media has converted it into small units. No one would have predicted the impact it would have on humanity.
In this guide though, we will stick to the business aspect of it. Or more specifically in our case, the fashion world of business.
Why use Social Media for your Fashion Business?
A lot of ink has been poured into the benefits of social media for business so we will avoid recycling these old tales.
What we can say though is this, in social networks, the fashion industry has found a perfect home. It is a now a pretty common occurrence to see even the most prestigious of brands executing carefully thought-out social media campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vine, Pinterest etcetera.
And for good reason.
Brands no longer have to rely on magazines, TV, billboards and other such avenues of traditional marketing. A simple image or few lines of text conveying a concept, idea or sensation are enough to prompt a reaction within minutes.
And speaking of reaction, don’t you just love how social networks have made it possible. For brands to gather essential million-dollar information from what customers have to say?
Big data, they call it in tech circles.
No longer do you need to sanction costly marketing surveys in order to grasp the needs of the market. And through results that may potentially be skewed. Through social media, this information is available for free, mostly. This makes small mom and pop businesses some of the biggest beneficiaries of social marketing.
Then again, that is the impact of the Internet as a whole on business: it has leveled the playing field and made it possible for the small timer to sit at the same table with the big boys.
Today, you can get a good feel of the market. Through what your customers, existing or potential, are saying on the social channels. The response you get on these platforms can be hard to swallow. Sometimes because folks can be pretty savage out there. But there are few avenues through which you can gather such honest opinions. Blunt is more like it.
Best of all, though, having a social media presence means your business has the chance to amass. An army of customers who are fans of your brand. In fact, apparel businesses tend to boast some of the biggest audiences on social. Don’t believe it? Here’s proof.
By its very nature, the fashion industry excels at engaging audiences. And that’s because it has some of the best imagery to work with – beautiful clothes, beautiful people, and a wealth of top-notch produced photography from shoots and ad campaigns. Even the hotel industry would be proud.
This should be good news for you because at the very least, the odds are not against you. Most people have a soft spot for the kind of offering you deal.
All Social Media Channels are not Equal
The thing is though, getting your business on social media just for the sake of it is not enough.
And we don’t say this in the context of burning the midnight oil as you figure out effective ways to make your voice heard amidst all the noise.
Sure, distinguishing your brand from the pack is not an easy task in a crowded online fashion market. But a good number of smaller brands don’t make it any easier on themselves. One common pitfall they succumb to as they try to gain traction is spreading themselves too thin.
Unless you are Hermes, Zara, or Adidas, you need to carefully think about which social media platforms are viable for you. Because as much as splitting your time amongst the plethora of available platforms can be counterproductive. The naked truth is that you cannot be successful in every one of them.
And this is not unique to the fashion industry.
Many SMEs make the mistake of concentrating their efforts on multiple platforms. Instead of leveraging the few that would promise the best results. They channel their energies wholeheartedly into the multiple channels. And pour substantial marketing funds into it, only to have their efforts turn into custard.
Look, every company wants to find success on social media. Because doing so would ultimately impact on the bottom line in a positive way. But the truth is that an effective social media campaign is both a time and money drain, requiring dedication and patience to be successful.
The issue with spreading your attention too thin between the multiple channels is that as wise as casting your nets wider in the social waters might appear, what it does is keep you from finding success on any of the platforms.
Which Pony Do you Wager on?
To avoid falling into the multi-channel trap, consider the pros and cons of each social network. And opt for the most pertinent one for your business.
Which social networks are you a member of? Is your audience there with you? If not, where exactly are they hanging out?
There is also the issue of content.
In this party game, as in most things in life, quality beats quantity hands down. A Pinterest post that attracts 40 likes and 15 repins can work – a treat for your marketing efforts compared to 60 tweets that are not seen by anyone.
While concentrating your efforts on certain platforms and delivering quality content are very much a key part of social media success. What else can aid your efforts is knowing who your target audience is and which networks it is they use most. You see, we can both be in the fashion business, but a network in which you have found success might be hard for me to break in.
The reason it might work out differently for each brand may have to do with our respective target markets. If your target audience is a young, hip consumer base (teenage young), chances are they may be hanging out on Snapchat and Instagram more than they are on Facebook.
Likewise, if you serve a more elderly clientele, chances are you will not find them punching away at their keyboards in the name of tweeting. Meaning if Twitter is where you spend most of your time, you are wasting precious resources. And time while wondering why it is so hard to gain traction.
If it sounds like a challenge, it’s probably because it is. Identifying a viable social vehicle to ride on is not the easiest of social media decisions to make for a business.
But what are we here for if not bail you out, right?
In Part II of this series, we will be sharing a comparative guide. We have created to help you make that informed decision regarding social channels. That can work best for your fashion business. With great examples to boot.