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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Social Media for Fashion Brands Event Summary

Last week’s Social Media for Fashion Brands networking talk was one of the busiest yet and we were lucky  to have two guests on our panel this time.  This is a longer post than usual as so much was discussed.

Fashion blogger, Lois Waller, has built a huge following since she started her Bunni Punch blog in 2009, as well as over 5,000 twitter followers. She also runs her own PR agency Carrot Top PR, so has a unique perspective from both a PR and blogger's point of view.

Our second guest was designer Harriet Posner who has extensive experience advising labels on their branding and marketing strategy and has publishing a  book Marketing Fashion as a practical guide to the principles of marketing and branding. She also lectures on Fashion Business and Marketing at the LCF and Insitute Margioni and is about to launch her own label, Brompton Finch, which produces customised interior furnishings and fashion accessories inspired by flowers.

Harriet Posner, Alison Lewy and Lois Waller

The talk was kindly hosted by the American Intercontinental University and it was lovely to see their students mix and network with our business club members and fashion entrepreneurs that attended the event.

Most of us are aware of how important blogs and social media platforms are in helping promote a fashion brand, but don’t necessarily know how to utilise these platforms to the best advantage.

Fashion Angel networking talk audience
Below is a summary of the questions posed by the chair Alison Lewy, and some tips from the panel:-

Why does a brand need a blog, and to engage with bloggers?
Fashion bloggers are good for outfit posts to promote your product. The aim is to get several influential  bloggers to feature your designs to have a wide reach.
A label’s own blog is a brand building tool to create an emotional connection with your target audience.
It is important to be clear about who you are trying to reach depending on what your product and target market is.

What makes a good blog?
A blog should portray your brand in the best light and it should reflects your brands ethos - you shouldn't use it as a platform to moan about things
Build a conversation and a relationship with the audience by talking about your business journey, what inspires you, sharing behind the scenes footage at your studio or before a catwalk show all  can help.
Lois’s sees Bunni Punch as an informative tool that mixes up new and old brands, luxury and low end product outfit posts  - happy to include Primark if they produce something she thinks is cool.
It should be linked to your twitter and Facebook account so they are updated when you post.

How does it help a label reach trade buyers?
Buyers are now using blogs to research and find new brands – it’s much easier than trawling through websites. They have to be aware of the trends and so they look to the popular bloggers to feed them with up to date information which helps them filter through the brands that approach them.
If you show at London Fashion Week, make the most out of the opportunity and invite bloggers to attend and wear your products so hopefully they will write about your brand in their show coverage.
If your brand has built a big following on social media sites eg twitter & Facebook, the buyers will be more inclined to look at it, as it indicates there is a demand for your product.

How does a brand attract the attention of  bloggers?
Use twitter or email to approach them.  Not all will respond but some will.
Be aware that now many bloggers attend the shows and contact brands just to get free products, but don’t give anything back.
Try to build an on-going relationship with a blogger who’s going to feature you on a regular basis.

Do you have to pay  bloggers to feature products?
The fashion blogging world has changed and some of the influential bloggers do get paid for nearly all their posts. They are offered so much money  that it is no doubt hard to refuse, but it does change the nature of the relationship.
Lois’s focus is on creativity and showcasing new brands that interest her, in some cases she may earn some money out of it , but it doesn't influence her choices.
Hilary felt that it’s best to take a pragmatic approach – if a customer clicks on a blog link and then goes on to purchase that product she didn't feel there was anything wrong for the blogger to earn money from it providing the relationship is transparent.
Consumers follow blogs to see a curated selection of products from a blogger that they feel has a style aesthetic they like, so it can be look on as a service to some extent.
Harriet Posner, Alison Lewy and Lois Waller

What are the important platforms to be on?
This depends on your business model  and your segmentation targeting and positioning – you need to understand and have a presence on the platforms used by your target audience.

Lois told us over 80% of her new clients are through twitter. It’s a powerful research tool for businesses as can be used it to search what relevant  people are blogging about.
You can investigate who the key bloggers are in your field of interest and then  follow them – hopefully they'll follow you back, thus helping to build your community.
Hashtags can be used to help you find other interesting twitter feeds.

Facebook is particularly useful for customer communication, brand exposure and to drive traffic to a website.
It is outstanding in terms of engaging people who like a brand, want to share their opinions and participate in giveaways and contests.
A Facebook page should be kept updated to always look relevant.

Useful picture sharing application .
You can take a picture and instantly post it to twitter and Facebook  saving time.
It lets users follow and like brands, therefore building your community.

This virtual scrapbook site is very relevant for fashion brands.
Many brands are finding posting products on to boards translates in to sales
It’s useful  for designers to create their own moodboards.
It’s super quick to set up and update, so very user friendly.

Google+ may not be very exciting and not much seems to be going on, however it is an important technical tool, as will be soon be the  only way to move up Google search rankings.

Lois Waller’s tips:-

  1. Get on twitter - if you’re not on it set up an account immediately!
  2. Harass friends/family to like your page – this helps spread the word and move you up the search rankings.
  3. When you start you have to be proactive and approach magazine press, bloggers, stylist and PR’s to promote your brand and  build your community of followers 
  4. Use scheduling tools to allow you to write bogs in advance when you have the time, and then post them at a later date.
  5. If you want to promote your product, try linking it to something that’s on trend using the relevant hashtag.
  6. Network – it’s a small industry so face to face networking is the best way to get known . It’s also a great way of sharing expertise and forging collaborations. Even if you don’t have tickets,  go to London Fashion Week and trade shows to get to know the stylists and bloggers.
  7. If you want to approach a lot of bloggers – try following them and asking them to follow back, so you can direct message them.

Harriet Posner’s tips:-

  1. Content is key - think about your tone of voice - communicate with and project the values of your brand
  2. Remember the 4 Cs of Content
    Create  - create engaging content ( See point 1)
    Context - what is the aim and purpose of the content you are creating?
    Conversation - how will your content support two way communication between you and your audience?  Use social media to listen to the conversation as well as generate content.
    Conversion - What does conversion mean to you for each platform?   Think about meaningful conversion points of different platforms.  Are you trying to get someone to sign up for a newsletter?  Do you want them to enter a competition? Are you wanting them to purchase? Is the aim to get them to like or reTweet?  Is the purpose to get a key influence or blogger to contribute or feature your work?
  3. SEO - Make sure you use KEY WORDS wisely.  Think about the page title - put what you do before the brand name.  Don't forget to write Alt Tags on images using key words It helps with SEO and bloggers find your images.
  4. Website links should be on key word anchor text, not generic words like ‘more’ or ‘click here’ – eg link black leather jackets to link and not ‘here’
  5. People search Google by short phrases or 2 - 3 words.  Check the Google Key words tool - for example more people search for Milliner than Millinery. 
  6. Use Lists – if you want to keep an eye on a competitor without the public knowing who you are following you can use secret list.

Social media gives you access to data and a way to reach your target customers and can play an integral  part of your overall marketing/communications strategy but basic marketing principles still apply.

Don't forget, it is a support of and not a substitute, for getting out there and meeting people face to face!

Let us know what works best for you?
By Alison Lewy

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