Friday, February 20, 2015

Five Ways Fashion Brands Can Succeed at Instagram

By: Macala Wright
Monday, December 29 2014
It’s the old adage that we’ve all heard before: a picture is worth a thousand words.

What if that picture was on Instagram featuring a fabulous model flaunting a Michael Kors handbag? For fashion brands, that picture could be worth thousands of dollars in revenue. Over the last three and a half years, a dramatic shift has taken place in the e-commerce landscape. The rise of visual social networks has allowed consumers to naturally interact with products, thus creating a new wave of influence and revenue opportunities for brands and retailers on Instagram.

Do you think you can afford to discard Instagram from your overall marketing strategy? Think again. Here are the picture-perfect facts:
  • According to Piqora, Instagram now has  200M members and an engagement rate that is 25% higher than any other social platform.
  • Instagram users spend an average of 3.7 hours on the app every month. When it comes to fashion, an L2 research study revealed that Instagram users spend an average of 257 minutes on the platform each month. That is over two days per year!
  • That same study also showed that Instagram ads helped retailers increase ad recall by 32% and brand message lifts by 10%.
  • Millennials trust user-generated content 50% more than other media, according to Mashable.
  • eMarketer’s latest forecast predicts that by the end of 2014, almost 25% of US smart phone users will upload a photo to Instagram on a monthly basis.

Inspire Your Customers
Piqora wrote, “Instagram is a platform to build emotional bonds – an opportunity for brands to show their values, personalities, passions and ethos.”  For footwear brands, Instagram is the perfect platform for your brand to show (and not tell), which is why several companies inspire their customers every day on the rapidly growing photo-sharing platform.

Nike is the perfect example of a brand that sets the bar for Instagram inspiration. Nike will feature several beautiful photos of an athlete overcoming a huge hurdle or accomplishing a great feat with the hashtag #justdoit. When brands inspire, customers engage – and they are showing it with dollars! Social collaborations may also be a great way to inspire fans while humanizing your brand by leveraging the power of influencers.

Humanize Your Brand
Customers want to know more about your brand – beyond the latest product launch. It is about the connection. Customers are curious about the people behind the designs, your company values and role in the community. If your company is Made in America, upload a behind-the-scenes photo of where your products are crafted. If your designer has an incredible story, upload a picture of your designer creating sketches. Giving your customers visual context through Instagram allows them to connect to your brand on a much deeper level.

Humanizing your brand relates to engaging your audience. This summer, Marc by Marc Jacobs turned model casting calls into a social media contest on Instagram. The #CastMeMarc campaign asked users to take pictures and tag them #CastMeMarc. The week-long contest received nearly 70,000 submissions. Nine lucky winners appeared in the Marc by Marc Jacobs fall campaign, which launched in August of 2014.  70,000 submissions resulted in millions of social impressions, PR coverage, and most of all, visual fan engagement through “hearts” and comments.

Enable Widgets + Virtual Styling

Engaging your customers with unique website widgets has the potential to drive consumer sales and increase your site’s conversion rate. Brands like Steve Madden, Puma, Cole Haan, Brooks and Sperry Top Sider found incredible success with Olapic, a tool that helps increase sales by pulling consumer photos from Instagram (usually via hashtag) into the e-commerce experience where it is featured with the product for sale. When consumers engage with these types of widgets, the conversion rate is much higher compared to consumers who do not engage with these widgets. According to Olapic’s research, 9.6% of visitors who interact with customer photos convert. This technology allows brands to become content curators of the most authentic asset available to their brand: user-generated content.

Often women have a hard time styling an outfit, how many times have you asked a friend if something looked good? Using social recommendation behavior, footwear retailer Zappos created Glance, and developed a creative way to shop Instagram with #nextOOTD. With it, Instagram users shoot an outfit and tag it with #nextOOTD. Anyone who does this will recieve personalized shopping recommendations based on their Instagram history and style.

Create a Virtual Storefront

If you’re a smaller brand or retailer without an established e-commerce site, start with Instagram. Snap and upload pictures of your products and include product descriptions in the photo caption. Then, you can finalize sales with tools like PayPal. Opening your storefront on Instagram is a fun, easy and cost effective way to provide visually rich content that increases consumer purchase intent. While Instagram does not yet allow clickable external links, that does not stop retailers from leveraging the power of this application. A creative tip from smaller retailers is to create a check-in location for your store or company with the purchase URL in the description.

Establish Platform Goals and Metrics

Due to its visual nature, Instagram audiences for brands hold the highest engagement rates (4.21%) of all social media platforms, including Twitter (.03%) and Facebook (.07%). So in essence, Instagram is your brand’s story in pictures and video. It is as diverse and dynamic as you want it to be. As you tell your story, you need to set concrete goals to measure and benchmark your marketing efforts against.
●If you want to build brand awareness, look at the type of content your users are interacting with the most.
●If you want to drive sales traffic, look at how you are optimizing pictures for that.  For instance, are Soldsie, Keep or Like2Buy part of your strategy?
By following the above steps, you will be able to put Instagram to work for you in order to drive brand success.

More Tools For Success

There are numerous free, cost effective solutions to help any marketer develop their Instragram marketing strategies. Piqoura offers an online webinar and a marketing guide for all fashion brands. If you want to find brands to follow and receive inspiration from, check out Totems. Simply Measured also offer free Instagram assessment tools and blog posts on how to be competitive with your visual content.
Do you have resources for Instagram marketing success? Share them with us @FNPlatform on Twitter or Instagram!

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