It is no longer an industry secret that social media is one of the most powerful tools available to fashion labels and clothing boutiques to promote their brands and drive sales. What is still considered a bit of a dark art is how exactly it can be done!
With social media, rather than just being about broadcasting your products, it is about getting people talking about you. Here are our top tips for how exactly clothing boutiques can do just that.
Why Social Matters For Fashion
Before we get started, for anyone who isn’t 100 percent sold on the importance of social media in the fashion world, here are some fun facts and why they matter.
Fact: There are four billion internet users in the world today, and 75 percent of them use social media on a regular basis. What do we mean by a regular basis? The average American spends four hours a day on social media.
Meaning: It used to be fashion magazines where brands could find their captive audiences; today it is on social media. This is beneficial to brands.
While magazines generally only found their way into the hands of those actively interested in fashion, the nature of social media means that content can get in front of people who don’t realize that they are interested. This means new opportunities not only to speak to your existing market but grow a new one.
Fact: 6.9 million women in the United States alone shop for clothing online on a regular basis. American teens spend 40 percent of their available money on items made available by the fashion industry.
Meaning: It used to be that making someone aware of your brand was the first challenge, and getting them to actually get into your store and buy something was a completely different and much more difficult challenge. Now, thanks to the prevalence of online shopping, the barrier between awareness and purchase has been significantly reduced. If you can get someone interested in your products online, it is now much easier to convert them into a paying customer.
Fact: 92 percent of people are more interested in what their friends, family, and respected public figures (that’s right, celebrities) think about products and brands than what the brand says themselves.
Meaning: Word-of-mouth marketing, when other people tell someone about a product or service, is the most valuable form of marketing. Social media is an excellent tool when it comes to getting other people talking about you!
For more information on why social references are so important, read: Why Social Mentions Are So Important.
Making The Most Of Social Media For Clothing Boutiques
Build Relationships With Influencers
As already discussed, much more influential than you telling someone your products are trendy and must-haves is someone else telling them, especially if these influencers are people your (would-be) audience respects, admires, and whose fashion they wish to emulate. When Meghan Markle was spotted wearing a Club Monaco dress, it then sold out in less than 24 hours!
If you are lucky enough to get a photo of a celeb wearing something from your boutique that you can share, fantastic. Even better if they themselves share the photo to their significant number of followers. Better still if they name drop you and let people know how much they love your stuff. Unfortunately, this doesn’t “just happen” all that often. It is usually a case of brands contacting the celebrity and paying them to promote the line on their social media.
While big-name celebrities are beyond the financial reach of many clothing boutiques, they aren’t the only influencers that matter on social media. There are lots of other people out there making a living (or at least trying to) as social media influencers. They put a lot of time and energy into building a strong social media presence and a big following among desirable demographics, and then make their income by working with brands to promote their products.
These social media influencers may only have 10 or 50,000 followers, as opposed to Kim Kardashian’s 162 million. But if the influencer is a good match for your brand, those 50,000 followers are likely to be dominated by exactly the demographic you are looking to engage.
Plus, the social influencer’s approval of your product gives your brand a more valuable presence in that audience’s minds than if they had simply seen one of your brand’s posts, perhaps brought to their attention via some kind of paid-for social advertising.
Engaging with social media influencers isn’t easy. You need to spend your time researching them to find the right ones and then engage with them personally. You will need to negotiate how you would like your brand to be portrayed, as well as what they are happy to do for your brand within their own, valuable social media brand. Then, of course, there is the question of remuneration.
For more on how to work with influencers read: How To Approach Microinfluencers About Creating Content For Your Brand.
But people aren’t only interested in what the bigger social media influencers are doing and wearing; they also like to see what their friends, families, and peers are up to. And any positive content about you that is generated by your audience, rather than you, is extremely valuable in terms of raising visibility and building trust in your brand.
Sometimes user-generated content happens without much intervention from you. A customer buys a new dress which they love and think to tag your label in their post of them looking fabulous. But again, this doesn’t happen as often as we might like, and brands need to invest in encouraging this type of behavior.
There are a number of ways that this can be done. One such way is through competitions. For example, you could ask users of a certain demographic, for example, women aged 18-25, with a certain social media profile, for example, a minimum of 5,000 followers, to create posts about their favorite pieces from your current collection. You can offer free products to the 10 most popular posts. Hopefully, the happy winners will also post their pleasure with their free items, completing the virtuous circle.
Another approach is to invest in developing a popular hashtag that fans of the brand will want to use. A great example is Missguided’s hashtag #babesofmissguided. Promise to repost the best pictures to encourage people to use it. Lots of young people are looking to build their social media following and will see this as an opportunity. You will end up with lots of great user-generated content sharing and recommending your products.
More Than Just Instagram
It is generally accepted that Instagram is king when it comes to fashion, as the platform lends itself to visual content, and all the popular fashionistas and style influencers are active on Instagram. But this is definitely not the only platform that clothing boutiques should be looking at.
Pinterest is another highly visual platform where fashion lines should be active and which is a favorite among the fashion-forward. The platform is designed specifically for searching for things that you love and creating boards of them. Boards can then be shared and followed, and many people follow the boards of their favorite celebrities and trendsetters. Fashion is one of the most popular themes on Instagram.
Clothing boutiques should be making their own boards showing off new lines and putting together things such as holiday capsule wardrobes and must-haves for Spring. This is also a great place to be engaging influencers, often at a much more affordable rate than on Instagram.
Twitter is often overlooked as a platform for clothing labels as it is more of a conversational platform than a visual platform. But this is to miss a major opportunity, as 38 percent of Twitter uses are between the ages of 18 and 29, the most important demographic for most fashion lines.
A lot of young people follow their favorite celebrities and role models on Twitter, so this is another great place for partnering with influencers. It is also a great option for dealing with customer inquiries. Direct customer inquiries from your website to Twitter and use this as an opportunity to grow your presence there.
But beware, 52 percent of consumers expect businesses to respond to their inquiry or complaint within one hour. And make sure to reply to any complaints in a way that leaves your brand looking good! Responses should be fun as well as informative. No one wants to follow a stuffy, corporate brand.
Facebook is another platform people spend a lot of time on, especially engaging with friends and families. This can be a particularly good platform when it comes to procuring and sharing user-generated content.
Facebook is also a great option for reducing the barrier from liking a product to making a purchase. Thanks to new Facebook Shop features, customers can go directly from looking at an item they like to adding it to their basket with one click. This means the transaction can be completed without them ever having to make the decision to leave Facebook and visit your website.
It can take a lot more time and energy to make a good video than to track down the perfect photo, but it can certainly be worth it. YouTube has 1.8 billion users per month, with a quarter of uses spending at least 30 minutes on the platform per day. Tik Tok, an emerging visitor platform, has 500 million active monthly users, and the app was the second most downloaded app of 2019.
YouTube is a great platform for sharing high-quality, professional content, or relatively long content, such as Vlogs. These can be easier to create as they can involve a lot of talking to the camera rather than sourcing other film and image content. This is another platform where you can work with influencers, who have popular Vlogs with large audiences who may be able to incorporate their products into their show.
If you are looking for more user-generated content, or the opportunity to go viral, then Tik Tok might be the platform for you. Content can be created relatively quickly as you are looking for content of between five and 60 seconds, and there are lots of filters and other options to help make the mundane more interesting.
The platform is also specifically designed to encourage users to come up with their own videos in response to a hashtag or creating dance videos, funny videos, or reaction videos in response to the challenge. Several brands have had great success with this already.
The other good thing about Tik Tok is that there is not the same necessity to build up a following to get noticed. While users can and do follow the people that they love, the app mostly relies on a sophisticated algorithm to curate content for users, which starts playing the moment that they open the app. This can mean that if you come up with quality, appealing content, it can quickly be in front of the eyes of millions of app users.
Be About More Than Your Products
Our final top tip for social media success for fashion boutiques is to be about more than just your products. In general, on social media, audiences don’t like to be sold to. They are interested in engaging with content that is of genuine interest to them. Therefore, to keep relevant and interesting on social media, get involved in the stories that your target audience cares about.
The skate brand Bored on Southsea does a great job of this. Their social media presence is dedicated to sharing the best skate videos, which is what their audience is passionate about. The links to their products are secondary, but effective because they have a big audience comprising their target audience, which is skate fans.
People Tree also does a great job of being more than their product. One of their unique selling points is that their fashion relies on ethical supply chains, an issue which is of key interest to Millennials, the main customer base of the brand. By focussing on this, they get involved in the discussion happening among their target audience, and raise their credibility and trust.
Social media is a valuable tool to help fashion boutiques grow their audience and drive sales by raising awareness of their brand through word-of-mouth recommendations. The key to doing this is not to take to the platforms and start talking about and promoting yourself. The secret to success is to get other people talking about you.
Clothing brands should work with social influencers and their fans, encouraging them to tell their friends and followers how much they love your lines. This is the fastest and best way to build interest in what you are selling.