Over the past few weeks the way fashion industries use social media outlets has been dissected. From celebrity endorsements to the world’s most renowned designers, a conclusion has been made: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are the reason audiences feel inspired to purchase your product. In a world where millennials are taking over, fashion industries are constantly striving to reach audiences of all demographics. Not only are we able to scroll, text and swipe with the touch of a finger, but we can watch and live stream, too. Everything is given to us right in the palm of our hands through our electronic devices and social media profiles.
We live in a world where celebrities are idolized and followed on every social media account possible. Who knew that “Keeping up with the Kardashians” would not just be a famous reality TV show, but instead literally mean keeping up with Kylie. Millennials want to be the first to comment, repost, favorite and purchase Kylie Jenner’s new makeup line right off of her Instagram photo within seconds of her post. Social media has given one of Kylie’s 78.7 million followers on Instagram a whole knew meaning. Audiences feel connected and involved like never before. Fifteen years ago, who would have predicted that professional athletes such as Tom Brady and David Beckham would be the faces of UGG and H&M? We live in a society that loves to watch professional athletes on the field as much as we do on the billboards. How are long-time, brand-name designers adapting to the social media culture? A hashtag like “#InstaKors” seems to do the trick.
Our century is surviving through the ability to stay connected. Individuals are a tweet away from the newest trend. This is creating new reputations for the fashion industry and allows them to reach constituent groups with a different outlet, creating a whole new era.
It is no secret that social media has changed the fashion industry forever – that being said, it has changed consumerism forever. Regarding social media in the fashion industry, people are far more likely to share content and photos of clothes and models than they are with other sorts of products. Fashion is a very social industry that is heavily embedded into our society, which is one of the reasons it is so prominent in social media. People are able to share their opinions online about certain brands or items of clothing that they have had experiences with, giving reviews and ratings for these products. This is another reason social media has become so powerful; interpersonal communication between fellow customers has become probably the biggest influencer when it comes to making purchasing decisions.
Social media has become an extremely powerful marketing tool. Companies are able to engage with consumers, build brand awareness and make it easier than ever for customers to buy what they want. It has also been found that companies with higher customer engagement through social media have higher sales than companies that are behind with the times; traditional, luxury brands might be in trouble if they don’t start to follow the trend soon.
One of the reasons the fashion industry is also very prominent in the social media world is because famous fashion designers are able to instantly share events that are happening in their lives with their fan base. They can use apps such as Snapchat to preview their new clothing lines, as well as film their fashion events from their perspective which gives consumers a personal, intimate, inside-look into their lives.
It is undeniably true that fashion is now everywhere, with social media being its biggest facilitator. Nowadays, the influence of someone with a large social media following is enormous. In fact, some marketing agencies for fashion campaigns will only hire people with a large online fan-base: models, photographers, make-up artists etc. It would seem that the amount of experience one has isn’t as relevant nowadays. Everywhere we look, fashion is a part of our culture, and can now be taken with us everywhere due to the advent of mobile phones.
Fashion is a 1.2 trillion dollar global industry, with more than 250 dollars spent annually on fashion in the United States, according to industry analysts. With that being said, fashion labels need to be reaching audiences of all incomes across their social media platforms. Fashion will always be important and present in society, it is how the designers work to make their mark in the social media field that will help get their name out and respected while still being an affordable product.
Value-seekers who do not want to sacrifice style in the equation, are shopping at fast-fashion chains such as H&M, Forever 21 and even Target. The reality is that these cheap-chic brands are picking up more shoppers and have more traction. Not only does their high-quality for low-price ratio keep buyers happy, but also their constant engagement on social media. With Twitter and Instagram at the top of the charts for all three fashion lines, followers have said that posting online links and coupon codes on the brands social media accounts makes them eager to check out the latest trends. Frequent buyers have also stated that when they are notified about an upcoming sale on either Twitter or Instagram, they are more likely to purchase clothing right away.
Nowadays, why purchase one shirt for 50 dollars at a high-fashion store when you can buy a pair of business casual pants, a nice blouse and ballet flats at H&M all for the same total price? It’s all about shopping the looks for less! The media, such as a number of fashion blogs, are constantly offering suggestions for discount and imitation products that are very similar to designer brands, but half the cost. While this is good for average income and lower income consumers, high-fashion designers are losing money on their products and losing their importance in our society.
Hashtags (#) have become a mainstream way for people to see what trending topics are popular at the moment, and also a way for people to click on their own hashtag and see who else is talking about the same thing. Consumers using peer-to-peer communication to talk about brands on social media is vital for a company’s success, since peers trust each other more than any other source. Lately, trends have been created more-so by bloggers and peer influencers than through traditional advertising.
Aerie (an underwear company) has effectively used hashtags to create conversation amongst their targeted demographic of younger women (teens through twenties) mainly through their chosen medium of Twitter. The hashtag #AerieREAL represents their campaign which has targeted average-sized girls who want to see their own body type reflected in models as opposed to the stereotypically beautiful size zero models. Their slogan “The Real You Is Sexy,” is showcased by getting everyday girls to model for them and not retouching their imperfections. They brilliantly appeal to most young women because the majority don’t have “perfect” bodies and want to wear Aerie’s underwear because they are inspired by so many women embracing their true selves. Aerie has created a lot of brand association with this hashtag and even encouraged girls to post untouched photos of themselves on Instagram using their hashtag. Sales went skyrocketing after this campaign and they even saw a 13% increase in new customers.
On the flip side, some companies want to appeal to a fitter body type. While using women of all shapes and sizes works very well for Aerie, companies like Under Armour, or Nike for example, prefer to attract a fitter body type for both men and women. They often use Instagram to post pictures and videos of really slim or fit (and often well known) athletes to show that if you buy their shoes or other products, you can look like them too. Nike also has hashtags such as #justdoit and #nikewomen so when people post pictures with those hashtags, they can see others who have been inspired by the Nike lifestyle so much so that they promote the brand of their own free will. Nike actively uses Twitter and Facebook too to keep an ongoing conversation with their targeted demographic: athletes and aspiring athletes.
It doesn’t matter what body type a given company wants to target. What really matters is that they know where their audience is, what they want to see, and how they can reach them.
Throughout its existence, Calvin Klein has relied on one tried and true principle of marketing: sex sells. It was as true 50 or 100 years ago as it is today. However, social media marketing requires that we go beyond simple portrayals and add some depth and interactivity to supplement these primal laws. Calvin Klein’s latest social media campaign represents a brilliant and highly successful strategy for activating and engaging a fan base.
#MyCalvins was a campaign started in early 2014 which focused on getting social media users and influencers to share images of themselves in Calvin Klein underwear using the aforementioned hashtag. The foundation was a collection of black-and-white photos featuring Justin Bieber and model Lara Stone sporting CK waistband-branded underwear and denim. These images hearken back to Calvin Klein’s advertising past, such as the 1992 print ads featuring Mark Wahlberg and Kate Moss shot in nearly identical style to the modern renditions. Building off the success of the past allowed this campaign to bring something familiar and effective to audiences before adding the twist of interaction.
Following the release of the photo ads from the brand itself, a number of high profile influencers (such as Fergie and Kendall Jenner) on Instagram put the social media campaign into motion by sharing pictures of their own Calvins. Millions of Instagram- and Twitter-users were inspired by these social media icons and began replicating the images themselves. Before long the Internet was awash in images of young, fit Millenials posing in their Calvin Klein underwear.
Whether judged by its global reach of 469 million or the brand’s millions of new followers across multiple social media platforms, the #MyCalvins campaign was among the most successful hashtag campaign ever seen. While the celebrity endorsements and official marketing releases were important and effective, they were only the keys to the ignition of this marketing machine. It was the 23.5 million fan interactions that made the campaign a major accomplishment, which clearly demonstrates that it is the consumer and not the marketer that makes a social media campaign successful.
From giving major labels a bigger profile, to starting the careers of some of the world’s most famous models, social media and the use of mobile applications has become the biggest and best marketing strategy for major fashion labels. This holds especially accurate for designers like Michael Kors who has always been on top of social media, being the first brand to buy an Instagram ad.
Michael Kors has been actively using Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in order to give his customers and top followers a sneak peak into his hottest and latest trends. Living in a world where the public expects instant gratification, Michael Kors shows his customers the full range of looks on his social media accounts closer to when they can actually purchase them.
With 25 million followers in total, across the platforms, Michael Kors is always looking to tell his brands story on the applications his fans are using and loving. His brand worked with Snapchat’s “Stories” feature to launch Fashion Week runway pictures, backstage shots and front-row pictures. This was so successful that Kors had a super-social Fashion Week show too, streaming the entire show live on the Internet, asking fans to join a chat during the show using the hashtag #AllAccessKors. This lead to the Michael Kors franchise dominating the social media rankings as the No. 1 fastest-growing and most engaging brand on Facebook.
Michael Kors wanted the mix of models for his spring/summer 2017 show to represent diversity. Backstage, he made his vision come to life by implementing diversity as far as the look of the female models, and their body types. This is extremely effective in a generation where millions of women struggle with appreciating and accepting their bodies. The idealized woman in fashion during this decade would need to spend enormous amount of time and energy attempting to achieve something that is not only trivial but also completely unattainable. With Michael Kors using models of different demographics on his social accounts, he is able to reach a larger target group of customers in the fashion world.
Customer engagement with brands has become an increasingly important element in marketing strategies. Engagement contributes to a customer’s trust and loyalty towards the brand, as customers feel they are allowed to freely express their opinions and are being listened to. Brands are then able to receive candid feedback from the customers, and therefore they can use this feedback to improve their products and services. Many huge companies use social media platforms as a way to directly engage with their customers in order to increase brand awareness and to make customers feel that they are a part of something: a community. Nike is a brand that is currently dominating the market in terms of social media engagement.
In early August of this year, Nike’s Jordan Brand had a first: they outfitted the Michigan Wolverine’s football team. The day the uniform was unveiled coincided with the release of Instagram’s latest feature: Instagram Stories. Nike then saw this as an opportunity to increase their brand awareness through social media, as well as engage with customers by giving them an intimate, inside-look on the brand’s new launch. Nike’s Jordan Brand posted a one-minute Instagram story that contained photos and videos of the players wearing and trying on the new uniforms. The story reached 800,000 views within 24 hours.
Nike was able to utilize Instagram’s new feature in the best way possible by using it on the day it was released. At this time, Instagram users were hyped up and curious about the new feature and therefore were extremely active on the app. By Nike posting those images on their Jordan Brand Instagram story, the brand was able to create an intimate feeling between themselves and customers, therefore making customers feel more engaged with the brand.
There are plenty of other examples to show how Nike is engaging with their customers. Nike Women also utilized Instagram by creating a feature that allowed customers to click on a photo that Nike posted, and then be taken directly to a specific product page. Nike+ Run Club and Nike+ Training club are apps that the company has created to further enhance relationships with consumers. The apps unite runners and athletes all over the world through an online community. Users are given access to a wide range of Nike Expert running and training guidance and are also able to interact with fellow users in the community. This allows users to share the experiences and opinions with each other, and therefore enhancing the feeling of belonging to something, which can help with brand loyalty. Through this Nike is also able to tap into the conversations that are going on throughout the community, and further better their products and services from these comments.
Consumers develop their feelings about specific brands based off of how the brand is marketed and how it’s widely perceived. First impressions are extremely important. With luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, some consumers are willing to pay for more than they can afford because of the way the product has been marketed, and if it’s been marketed correctly, a personal attachment can be made between consumer and brand. However, for consumers to view a luxury brand as luxury, studies found that it needs to be marketed as rare, exclusive and “trendy.”
Fashion companies and designers are well aware of the power of social media. In the fall of 2014, Louis Vuitton, an international fashion house who sells mostly handbags, shoes, perfumes, jewelry, accessories, etc. introduced a new collection of handbags on Instagram and tagged the noted photographer who took it (meaning it linked to the photographer’s Instagram page). The photographer, Pelayo Diaz, who had well over 500,000 followers, then reposted the photo to his account. This was savvy of Louis Vuitton because by connecting with an influencer they reached a much wider audience with even more versatile backgrounds and in turn got an overwhelming 60,000 more likes on that picture than on their other ones. This is one example of how Instagram can be a beneficial medium through which designers can promote their products.
Louis Vuitton has used many other mobile applications to advertise like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Whenever they come up with a new collection, they create videos featuring celebrities and models promoting it and spread those videos on social media for people to share. This helps enhance their brand presence worldwide and become visible through lots of different social media vehicles (as opposed to just one) helps them reach a much larger audience. Since Louis Vuitton is more of a high-end luxury brand, and anybody with a phone or computer can use social media, this helps expose them to not only “the elite,” but to all types of potential consumers.
Around the world companies have used athletes to promote their brands since the 1930s, when baseball legend Babe Ruth endorsed a soft drink brand called Red Rock Cola. Since then, the times have changed and social media has taken over in brand marketing and brand promotion. The key for fashion brands is choosing the right athlete to endorse your product. These athletes need to seem like they would be an authentic customer of the product, fashion line, or service that they promote. Trustworthiness and credibility for the brand are most important. They need to be believed in the eyes of the public. This results in fans and consumers buying the EleVen athletic wear that Serena Williams promotes on Instagram and the striving ballers purchasing the newest LeBron James Collection basketball shoes because LeBron states he is an all-around better player while wearing them.
Brands reaching into the social communities of these athletes is the smartest thing they can do. Even an announcement from a brand signing a celebrity or athlete will make the stock prices of the company rise. Just one endorsement can increase sales by 4%. Brands utilizing Usain Bolts social media accounts create a personal interest in his fans and followers. TV commercials and billboards are easy to classify as staged productions, whereas Twitter, Instagram and Facebook profiles make the promotion significant and much more attractive to viewers.
Maria Sharapova partnered with Nike to promote their brand. Not only did she build a successful tennis career, but also a large number of followers across her social media profiles. With 1.8 million followers on Twitter, over 15 million fans on Facebook, and 164,000 on Instagram, she is one of the most desirable athletes for endorsements.
The Nike Jordan shoe brand has become one of the most successful athlete endorsement campaigns in history. In 2009, statistics showed that Jordan continued to boost Nike’s bottom line with the Jordan Brand taking 75% of the basketball shoe market, and a 10.8% share of the overall shoe market in the United States. Brands must pay more than $10 million dollars just to use his imagery! The Nike Jordan fashion line now boasts clothing from athletic shirts and shorts to accessories that include socks, wristbands, headbands, hats, backpacks and of course basketballs. Air Jordan shoes are still one of the mostly highly coveted and highest selling items in Nike’s existence. The iconography of the “Jumpman” logo combined with innovative designs and Michael Jordan himself revolutionized the Air Jordan brand and the look of basketball footwear forever.
Professional athletes have been endorsing products for years, but in the last decade athletes have started endorsing brands that have nothing to do with the sports they play. Professional athletes such as Tom Brady and David Beckham have moved to endorsing brands that are trendy and fashion centric on their social media accounts.
Tom Brady is known for endorsing UGG boots. This eventually skyrocketed the launch of UGG for Men with the help of a giant spread of him sitting against a wall in GQ magazine wearing the furry boots. David Beckham is a big endorser of fashion lines for H&M clothing. Bodywear by H&M suddenly became more desiring. Both Brady and Beckham are not representing themselves as professional football and soccer players on social media but rather presenting themselves as models of desire in the fashion world. This contrasts with the Michael Jordan brand because as models they are relying on sex appeal to endorse these products instead of athletic talent.
Celebrities are the ultimate influencers. For as long as advertising has existed, brands have been chasing after valuable endorsements from pop culture icons in hopes of tapping into their enormous influence. Money and power may have made them famous, but those aren’t the reasons why endorsements are valuable. The simple reason why celebrity endorsements are so widely sought is that when they talk, people listen.
We’re all used to seeing our favorite athletes and actors show up in TV and magazine ads. The reasons for using these types of endorsements are well established. According to an article from Forbes, a single celebrity endorsement can raise sales by around 4% almost immediately, regardless of the product or the endorser. It can also raise stock values and inspire confidence in stakeholders. However, the modern communication environment is more complex than it used to be, and so is the prospect of using celebrity endorsements.
It’s common knowledge at this point that having a social media presence is a necessity for any company interested in marketing, but the best practices for social media marketing may not be so common. It turns out that celebrity endorsements are just as, if not more effective when incorporated into social media marketing. A study by Brand Affinity Technologies found that celebrity-endorsed posts are 50% more cost-effective in activating audiences than non-endorsed ones and have clickthrough-rates 21 times higher. These are impressive numbers, but why does this work?
Jennifer Lueck writes about a concept called Parasocial Interaction. This refers to the way in which fans interact with their favorite celebrities on social media. Celebrities who are highly active on social networks, such as Kim Kardashian, have millions of followers. It is virtually impossible to get to know or even have any sort of personal interaction with a fraction of those fans. However, because of the personal and intimate nature of celebrity posts, fans often feel as if they personally know and have a relationship with these social media icons. They feel like a part of the celebrity’s life, knowing roughly the same amount of information about them as most people know about their real life friends. This familiarity and attachment creates very loyal and engaged followers, which is exactly what social media marketers are seeking. This explains why, when Kim Kardashian’s followers see an Instagram post from her featuring a new lipstick she’s in love with, they are 21 times more likely to click through and investigate that product; it’s essentially a recommendation from a friend, rather than an impersonal marketing message.
Social media marketing is all about activating and energizing your audience, motivating them to do the marketing for you. Having a celebrity endorse your product on social media is like gaining a mutual friend with millions of people. That is why celebrity endorsements are an approach every social media marketer should look for opportunities to incorporate.