Fashion has been deeply divided along gender lines since humans began clothing themselves, but that is in the process of changing. Gender neutral designing is becoming more common, and the traditional model of separating men and women’s fashion into two seasons is fading. Gucci announced in April that instead of holding two separate catwalk shows for men and women in 2016, it would combine them into a single event. Just as these changes have been occurring in the highest levels of the fashion sphere, the way designers brand and market themselves on social media has been shifting as well.
A driving factor behind the breakdown of gender-based branding on social media seems to be the need for deeper and more specific audience interaction. The Harvard Business Review wrote an article focused on the concept of crowdcultures, online communities based around a single topic or ideology. These subcultures are often shaped by larger demographic traits such as gender or race but represent more specific interests that can be especially informative to social media marketers. Crowdcultures are useful because they naturally make themselves available to marketing; the communication channels that define their existence provide strategic information and the means to reach that audience.
However, it is impractical and terribly inefficient to create customized marketing campaigns for every niche Internet culture. Effective social media marketing needs to strike a balance between breadth and depth. The choices we make when targeting audiences need to be informed by the wider demographics at play, as well as how well that audience meshes with the corporate identity and image. Social media marketing shines when it is personal in nature because personal connections are what users crave, especially female users.
Identifying who the major influencers are for a targetable audience is an important step in being able to effectively reach that audience. Collaboration with those influencers is the best way to tap into that specific culture and to create a personal and emotional connection with the audience. The connection needs to be more than superficial if it’s going to be effective; a long-term attachment between a subculture and a brand communicates an authenticity that simply couldn’t be accomplished otherwise. The social media marketer’s goal should be to cultivate and develop the relationship between the corporate culture and the consumer culture. A genuine relationship will communicate an emotional value that consumers seek and respect.
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.
Celebrity endorsement has been a well-known marketing tactic for some time. However, lately it has become even more prevalent due to the social media world-take-over. Celebrities are able to quickly and easily take pictures of themselves wearing or using a certain product, and instantly post it to social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook. This allows brands to reach millions of potential consumers in just a few minutes, or even seconds.
The fashion industry in particular benefits hugely from celebrity endorsements. A picture posted of a well-liked celebrity wearing a shirt from H&M, for example, immediately gives the brand credibility. People want to be like celebrities – especially millennials. They want to imitate their image – buy what they buy, and wear what they wear. Selena Gomez’s social media posts are currently worth $500,000, putting her in the top six social media influencers. Her social media following is increasing by around 200,000 followers every day. Imagine the reach a fashion brand can achieve just by Gomez posting a picture of herself in their product.
As a society, many of us are constantly emerged in social media. We are continuously looking at Instagram, Facebook and Twitter on our devices, and many of us also follow a number of celebrities on these platforms. Through these platforms, we are able to see into the lives of the rich and famous, making it easier than ever to copy their lifestyles, especially their clothing choices. Fashion is something that is a major factor in many peoples lives, and celebrities are often viewed as fashion icons. This shows just how impactful a simple post to social media can be.