Today, having a strong social media presence is essential if you want to have a successful brand, from either a personal or a business standpoint. Fashion brands are progressing on the digital front, as ad space in magazines continues to diminish in worth; consumers want to see their favorite labels posting promotional shots on a more intimate level, and Instagram has proven itself to be the most successful way to stay in touch with the consumers in this way. The social platform has more than 400 million active users, making it an ideal location for anyone looking to get an image out and seen by many.
According to Instagram, 42 million users used the site to connect to fashion in some way, particularly regarding the last set of Fashion Weeks around the world, from February 10 in New York to March 9 in Paris (with London and Milan falling in between). Among the 42 million users, there was a total of 283 million interactions with the uploaded photos. Aside from this, business intelligence firm L2 analyzed the activity of 192 fashion labels on social media, and uncovered a vast difference between consumer engagement on Instagram versus other social media outlets. Between February 1 and 18, Instagram generated 11.5 times more interactions than Facebook, and 57 times more than Twitter. The interactions showed with the number of posts on each platform, which totaled 20 for Instagram, eight for Facebook, and 26 for Twitter.
And that is where fashion businesswoman and current head of Instagram’s fashion partnerships Eva Chen comes in. She arrived in this position after stepping down from The Lucky Group as CEO. With her extensive work on the social media front, she has acquired a great deal of information regarding how to succeed in the digital world and to run a successful Instagram account. She spoke on the results of the prior analysis, and in few words provided a profound sentiment.
“It didn’t surprise me, just because of the visual element of Instagram,” she began. “A picture is worth a thousand words, and now a picture can speak to millions of people.”
Back on March 15, the social media site told users that the feed of posts would be changing to a format more like the newsfeed of Facebook, Instagram’s parent company. Posts will be presented based on an algorithm, rather than being presented chronologically, which is a move to increase user optimization. This may not have a great effect on fashion brands on Instagram, but the need remains true, that a social media presence is an integral aspect of marketing today. Business of Fashion interviewed Chen, and she was able to identify five key principles that are necessary to create a strong presence on Instagram.
1. Engagement Vs. Followers
“It’s not a numbers game. I feel like the fashion community is especially competitive and brands are looking at each other’s follower counts. But it’s the passion and engagement that people feel for a brand that matters most. That is a key gold star. You can have millions of followers, but more important is whether people are commenting and tagging their friends. That means you’ve created something that people are talking about and that’s what makes a good post.”
The important thing here is to remember your audience. The fans of a brand are not just a number on a page, so creating engaging content for loyal fans and consumers is more significant than creating vague information to bring in new, uninvested followers to increase your ranks.
2. Create Your Personal Style
“Having a strong visual identity and a visual rubric — that’s important. Just as when you pick up a magazine, whether it’s Self Service or Vogue, and you could remove the title from the cover, but you would still know which magazine it was just from the image, the typography, the talent they’re using, the tone of voice — that logic extends to Instagram as well. Feeds that have a very consistent look do well. You want moments of spontaneity and joy, but it’s also about consistency. Mansur Gavriel is a great example of that.”
Any industry where fame and recognition are involved revolves around the idea of building a brand. The “crafting” of the brand identity requires posting and all aspects related to the company to remain consistent.
3. Authenticity Is The Key
“It’s about authenticity. The accounts I love following most all have the sense that there are real people behind them. There was a point in time when things got very manicured, but what I’m seeing now, whether it’s Donatella [Versace] or Taylor Swift or Gigi Hadid singing in grainy videos, taken at home in poor light, is a swing back to authenticity and real life. People want to feel the ‘Insta’ in Instagram. The campaign images always do well, but it’s the behind the scenes where Karlie Kloss is eating a cookie backstage — those are the images that always get more engagement, because you feel like you’re seeing through someone’s eyes.”
Celebrities and designers behind fashion brands (and so on) are real people when all is said and done, and portraying that to the consumers can help establish connections on a more individual, personal basis.
4. Creating a Community
“The Instagram audience wants to feel like they’re a part of something. The conversation is really important — talking back to your followers, asking questions of them. It’s not something that every brand does. But I think Valentino, for example, does this very, very well. When people are in their Rockstuds they’re posting pictures and tagging Valentino and the brand is using a lot of this user generated content, saying to followers ‘Hey, if you post us, we’ll repost you.’ It’s nice because they’re spotlighting how people dress in Valentino. But when Valentino comments on their followers’ feeds, you can legit see people freak out.”
This goes along with authenticity. Keeping things real can help create a community, and starting a conversation is the best way to start; remember to turn your monologue into a dialogue.
5. The Benefits of Collaborations
“We’re in a new age where it’s about collaboration. Gucci is a great example. They do something called #GucciGram, where they collaborate with artists on Instagram. They have a collaboration with a painter named Unskilled Worker. Dries [Van Noten] worked with an Instagrammer named Button Fruit, who hand-painted his show invites. These collaborations are closer to artist residencies, where the reciprocity is more about inspiration and access versus ‘I’ll work with you because you have 9 trillion followers.’ That’s influencer marketing, which a lot of brands are doing extremely well, but that’s always existed.”
Starting the initial conversation can take many forms, such as with the Gucci example Chen provided in her interview. Letting users and fans collaborate in some way can do wonders for relationships and connections, and can prove to help a brand further on down the line.
Photo courtesy of @evachen212