Fashion and Social Media

(Originally published on kettlemag.co.uk)

It has been a revelation (and horrific realisation) for fashion retailers everywhere recently that the all-encompassing and harnessing power of social media is in fact a futile technique for gaining new customers. Draining company resources and gaining minimum ROI, retailers are now cutting their losses from Facebook shops and scheduled tweets to focus on more traditional marketing methods.

The reason for this being, that less than 2.5 per cent of new customers are obtained through Facebook and less than 0.1 per cent through Twitter, thanks to a report from the New York based search and email marketing digital consultancy L2. This is despite previous studies revealing exactly the same thing 2 years ago, at the peak of the social media boom.

So why did retailers even bother with social media in the first place?

A Call to Arms

Firstly, the ‘call to arms’ in 2011 promised every clothing retailer that social media is the illusive future of trade. Fashion houses fell over themselves to employ social media managers, in-house tweeters and Facebook addicts to make them into approachable, sociable brands. And all in the hope that their newly market orientated business plan would reflect in their sales figures.

Two years later and we are seeing the brunt of this poorly informed investment, with brands such as Luella and Nicole Farhi closing due to bankruptcy. Closer to the High Street, Ark Clothing is also said to be undergoing financial difficulty despite their close relationship with the student market.

This all goes to show that you can be on the pulse of social media but how much you invest in it can really change your overall outcome.

Troubled Waters

This is not to say that fashion retailers should ignore social media and the troubled waters it may bring. As a means of communicating with current customers, it offers dedicated brand advocates rewards through generous discounts and competitions (to name but a few online promotional methods).

Not to mention, the more that customers interact with content online, the more popular the retailer’s feeds will become. It is common knowledge that keeping a current customer is proven to be cheaper than obtaining a new one, and so ultimately, this is what social media should currently be used for.

Rewarding Loyalty

But if retailers want to reward loyal customers, why don’t they use points systems? Return on Credit Card purchases? All the traditional forms of rewards marketing? Well, despite the fact that social media is currently a dead end for producing lucrative sales (there’s still an element of trust in it for older generations), with time, we can expect the rise of social media to mean that everything we do will be through the internet. If you don’t believe me, check out the Google glasses advert--it’s real and it’s coming on fast. So although retailers would be stupid to invest all their marketing capital into online promotions, ignoring it all together would be even more dangerous.

We just have to look at Fashion Weeks across the globe to further affirm the need for social media with fashion retailers. LFW designed an app to easily access up to date information on the newest collections, hash tags were being typed faster than models could walk down the catwalk and Instagram nearly crashed.

Fashion advocates are hard to please but once they are, they’re exceedingly loyal. Not being able to tag your favourite brand or fashion talent individual is perhaps one of the most frustrating things when gushing about your new finds.

Which is why I would wholeheartedly encourage retailers everywhere to engage with social media. NOW.

Because believe me, the last thing you want to do is piss off the twitosphere.

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