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Part 2/2: How to Promote Products Successfully on Social Media

In the first part of this series, we shed a light on the things you need to be aware of before getting your fashion business on social media. Because getting in is easy, wading through successfully not so much.

If you haven’t, take a few minutes to skim Part 1 right here. Don’t worry, we’ll wait. Not that you have to, but it will make much more sense if you do. Go on…

This second and last section will look at the four most popular networks on which fashion businesses have found great success. And we will do this by breaking it channel by channel.

  1. Facebook

Let’s not take anything away from Facebook, this is the king of social networks. In fact, it is Facebook that heralded the phenomenon that is social media; succeeding where others like MySpace, Friendster, Second Life and more had failed.

Today, it still is the largest social platform boasting close to 2 billion active users monthly. By and large, this is one of the first social channels you need to be seriously considering first. Because if people want to find out more about your brand, bar through your website. The next place they are likely to look is – you guessed it – Facebook!

Think of it as the home of your social profiles just; as your website is the home of all your digital exploits.

A good number of fashion brands have based their operations on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. But don’t rule out the social king just yet. Because apparently, this is where most fashion and apparel brands witness the largest number of followers. In fact, fashion marketing started on this network.

And it is not all traffic without conversion.

Marketers across the board are of the general view that Facebook has the best ROI among all social networks.

In terms of audience targeting, the giant network offers you an embarrassment of options which only helps in maximizing the value of your ad spend. Start by targeting your ads based on location, gender, age and language. Then narrow it down some more by taking advantage of the platform’s detailed targeting options.

Demographics allow you to filter your options on close to a dozen categories, including generation, ethnic affinity, education, relationship etc. As well, interests allow you to drill it down the more by targeting Facebook users who have listed the shopping and fashion subcategory as an interest.

You can also use audience behavior to target or exclude people based on information gathered by Facebook or any of its partners, with the lookalike audiences feature allowing you to find even more people who are similar to that ideal audience you are targeting.

Here are a few examples of brands that have used Facebook marketing to amazing effect.

  • Lacoste

Lacoste is one example of a fashion brand; that has leveraged Facebook. Well, thanks to just a little creativity that your fashion retail business too could use as a blueprint.

They own a Facebook shop, which redirects you to their web storefront for the purchase process. Lacoste makes use of Facebook as a tool to spread brand awareness with relation to its collection. While making sure to let its customer base know of the many discounts and promo codes available.

One of their notable features on their page is “How do you wear Lacoste?” an opportunity they use to give you tips on how to best rock your Lacoste item. The Lacoste Facebook page is about getting the basics right, and it is little wonder they have amassed a little under 15 million likes on their FB shop.

  • HauteLook

The Haute Look brand targets a wide range of clients including kids, women, men, home and travel.

Their Facebook page has over 900,000 likes. And mostly revolves around Facebook-only benefits such as Facebook-only sales events; first look into collections; sweepstakes; exclusives giveaway; and interviews with renowned bloggers and designers.

  • Banana Republic

Banana Republic may not be famous as the other two in the eyes of some, but they have made a name for themselves as a long-time avid supporter of things human rights and equality.

One of their famous campaigns involved a contest surrounding the marriage equality rights announcement in California. They asked couples, same and opposite sex alike, to share their stories under the hashtag #BRLove4. All by sharing happy photos for the chance to get dressed by the brand during their wedding or other special occasion.

This attracted 14,400 interactions on Facebook alone, with over 60 million impressions. Mind you, this was before they had such a large audience as they do today.

  1. Instagram

Instagram is a visual marketing platform where the fashion world has found a natural home. The Facebook-owned app has always been about beautiful visuals, but after a series of updates, the offering today includes video, direct messaging and stories.

The Instagram demographic is mostly young (18-29; 30-49 age brackets) with almost an equal ratio of female to male users. For an industry that relies much on eye-catching content, this has grown into a must-be-on platform for fashion brands where a whopping 96% of US fashion brands are making their presence felt.

But with a higher engagement rate than other social networks and the fact that fashion brands perform better than most other brands, it is easy to see why. You can find some more eye-opening stats here.

Instagram, however, has a bad side to it you may not hear often.

While it might seem like the easiest of platforms to engage your followers on – after all, it’s just about posting some eye-popping designs and interacting with the users, right? – it is one of the hardest platforms to sell on. While rolling out the ad platform might have been a good first step, a click-through mechanism doesn’t look to be on the cards any time soon.

For this reason, investing time and effort into Instagram can seem like risky business by smaller retailers who may have their gaze firmly set on the ROI of their social campaigns, as opposed to the big super-brands who may just be in it for brand awareness.

This is why having a solid strategy is vital when using this social network. It helps keep you from falling into the common hole of replicating activity on other networks like Pinterest and Twitter.

Luckily, there are a few Instagram strategies your fashion business can employ to enjoy success on this platform. We will not be delving into basics such as following the competition’s followers, for example, if you are not sure where to start, or proper use of hashtags and so on.

Rather, these tactics veer off the beaten path, and if some other retailers are reaping benefits from them, chances are you can make some good headway too.

For one, as much as Instagram does create high engagement, there is increasing friction between spotting an item on the platform and taking the next step of heading over to the respective brand’s storefront to make a purchase. But here’s how some companies are getting around this issue.

  • Prep Obsessed

The preppy accessory boutique makes use of an application by the name Soldsie to sell through its comments section. Followers can then just comment “Sold” and include a size/variation along with their email address where an invoice can be dispatched.

Learn more about it here.

  • Nasty Gal

Instagram does allow for live links on the plaform. But you can include shortened links in your post descriptions which can be easily copied and pasted in the navigation bar.

It is a strategy fashion retailers like Nasty Gal are executing to good effect.

  • Zara and Topshop

These two brands are increasing conversion by including product reference numbers in any Instagram posts that may feature items available on their respective websites.

Other strategies include Nordstrom’s Like2Buy service which is more like the Soldie method used by Prep Obsessed to help their followers make an easier purchase straight from their Instagram feed. This is a big deal on Instagram because you can place a link in the only section that Instagram allows one: the description.

Here is the Dirty Dozen list containing similar hacks.

  • Up Close like Matthew Williamson

The second strategy you can use to promote your products on Instagram involves getting up close and personal with your followers.

Some fashion retailers are using their profiles to give fans a glimpse of exciting behind the scenes at the brand – instead of using the profile as a direct promotion avenue.

Matthew Williamson, the British fashion designer employs this approach, giving his Instagram platoon a peek not just into his private life, but also of behind the scenes, photoshoot pictures, as well as posting news ranges, and so on and so forth.

  • ASOS

Another notable product promotion technique on Instagram is inspired influencer outreach. They are on everyone’s lips these days, influencers, and here is the part they can come in handy for your brand.

A good example of a fashion brand using this strategy is highstreet fashion overlords ASOS. They have this personal stylish team that consists of accomplished fashion and beauty bloggers who chat with visitors at dedicated times in the day. Each has their own ASOS handle such as, for example, @asos_isabella.

These guys have a cult following and their daily exploits are often eagerly anticipated by millions around the world.

  1. Pinterest

Given the popularity of visual content, it comes as no surprise to find Pinterest on this list. This one-of-a-kind social network is highly visual, more than Instagram itself even, giving users a chance to display photos and videos (called pins) on albums referred to as pin boards.

The platform has slowly grown into one of the most popular social networks, and style has been a focus on the platform ever since its inception. And you know what that means, right? This is just the perfect playground for fashion brands, an industry whose purchasing decisions are visually motivated.

It is little wonder then that fashion makes the third-most popular category on Pinterest, a channel that is only about positioning itself as a major player not just in social, but also in search and ecommerce. Makes for pretty interesting reading in this business, no doubt.

However, Pinterest is not just about pinning your items every time and hoping users take the bait. This approach only ends up becoming monotonous, and that is not a word you want associated with your products!

  • Nordstrom

There is a risk of sounding biased by including Nordstrom twice in this list. But whom are we kidding, there is no point in reinventing the wheel. If it’s working, it’s working.

Nordstrom is a fashion brand that knows how to leverage social media, and so integral is Pinterest on their overall marketing strategy, that the brand is using the network as an in-store promotional tool. They do this by physically pinning the most popular items in their stores! – dresses, shoes, handbags you name it.

What this does achieve is translate to big sales in the end because when followers come across popular items pinned in the store, there is a chance it could result in a purchase. It does, and this has led other brands, including out of fashion, to adopt the strategy.

But that’s not it.

Our Favorite Things is one of their most popular boards, boasting upwards of 4 million followers.

It is centered on no single item in particular, as long as it makes the cut for the definition of “favorite” – wedding dresses, sunglasses, watches, coffee mugs; doughnuts even. Items they deal in and items they don’t; a careful mix of product promotion, while still leaving room for a conversation with their followers by sharing other unique ideas outside of their scope.

  • ModCloth

ModCloth is another stellar example of how to use Pinterest effectively. With over 2 million followers, the brand capitalizes on human emotion.

Considering women’s love to make wish lists on Pinterest, and to plan events and crafts on the network, ModCloth puts the most pinned items on top of the page, calling them features. These are highly popular amongst its fan base.

They have linked each product to their webstore buying page, and every now and then, they will feature the top picks from designers and also employees sporting the brand’s items.

  1. Twitter

The micro-blogging platform is where you hop for trending topics and news, as well as sharing mini updates, communicating and using it as a search engine of sorts. But it can also be a powerful tool for business, and along with Facebook, has become one of those default platforms you need to be on.

The popularity of Twitter is only but going one way – up. The fashion world is using the immense exposure of this tool to launch campaigns through its most powerful feature: hashtags.

Twitter is unique in its own twittery ways. As 15 minutes of fame here could catapult your brand to super stardom within no time; and like no other platform can. Likewise, get on the wrong side of the crowd and they will be having you for lunch. Hopefully, it’s not getting to that.

Twitter as a platform has become increasingly varied with regard to the type of content you can post.

While the traditional 140-character text threshold still forms the basis of communication. The platform has come to embrace other alternatives such as images, gifs and video. And if anything, the visual content has not only served to help reinforce the message; or makes for a more feasible platform for the likes of fashion brands; but also made the network more palatable through content enrichment.

Take advantage of this smorgasbord to promote your products without boring the audience to tears. Animated gifs especially make for great content; so does short video clips.

Used wisely, these features coupled with the all-powerful Twitter hashtag, can really make your brand pop on Twitter.

Here are some great fashion models you can borrow a leaf from.

Last Word

When used correctly, social media platforms can be incredibly powerful tools to market your fashion business. As with all things beneficial, though, there is a price to pay; in this case, sinking time and resources.

Consider carefully where your audience is hanging out before going all out in your attack of social marketing. Come up with a solid strategy for each platform rather than following the herd blindly; remember, it is not a cast iron guarantee that what works for me will work out for you. Despite us all being in the fashion space.

Besides, while social media might have been conceived as a social tool; it has metamorphosed into an indispensable marketing tool for business. And thus the need to take it seriously.

As much as the whole idea is to promote your products; and raise brand awareness, though, avoid taking the hard sale approach. That will only work against you. Social marketing is all about striking a delicate marketing balance that puts the customer at the heart of it.

Be a friend; not the car salesman. Be authentic, and engage sincerely in conversations; it gets rewarded in kind here. Take time to nurture relationships and provide content with value. It will reap rewards in the form of loyal customers; who will be willing to stick with you for the long haul.

It may take time to take root, but when it does, you will enjoy the ultimate competitive advantage.