February is the month of love, chocolates and fashion weeks. By now we have seen Paris Haute Couture, Madrid, New York and London Fashion Weeks. I must admit, I’m thrilled with the new designers and their collections for the next season. I’m even more thrilled today to discuss the lessons we can learn and apply from fashion’s pioneering work on the Instagram platform.
Both fashion industry and Instagram, convey the visual impact and strong aesthetics that had made both so irresistible. Do you know fashion companies are directly selling using Instagram? Michael Kors and Like2Buy, help their Instagram followers to buy the items on a Instagram photo via a special app. Matches Fashion helps to buy by placing the code item on the geotagging space.
Successful brands have understood that easiness to buy is key in Social-Commerce. But to be able to sell on Instagram these brands had to create the proper environment because no one goes to Instagram to be sold.
Let me lead you to four important lessons from fashion brands on Instagram.
1. Brand identity and personality
The first recommendation in the Instagram for Business Blog if you want to master the platform is to “Be true to your brand: Ensure that your imagery expresses a clearly defined personality and voice”.
This is something the most successful brands have in mind all the time. Brands that have been able to define that personality in detail like Warby Parker. Their brand’s persona is described by Sasha Tulchin, the company’s director of creative services, invoking the dinner-guest metaphor, imagining her as “quick-witted, but wears her intelligence lightly. Looks sharp without planning to. Takes a dare. Always offers to help with the dishes.” “The Warby Parker voice is witty, intelligent, informative, playful, delightful. We are not trite, pretentious, sarcastic, long-winded,” she says. “Every time we create a piece of copy, every time we create something new for marketing—every time it’s either in our office or externally projected—we do it with these filters.”
Although Warby Parker falls more in the category of accessories than into fashion, I thought this is a wonderful and well-detailed example on how to build brand’s personality. It needs to be detailed and it has to be the test to any publication that goes out.
Try another; Nasty Gal, a brand that has grown its reputation and a close community in a few years. Its brand personality is also build around Sophia Amoruso, Nasty Gal founder, personality. It’s sexy, rock ’n’ roll, and somehow down to earth.
Both brands excel at communicating their brand personality, on their curated post, on their captions, on the way that they relate to and communicate to their followers.
2. Storytelling and lifestyle
A few know about this but it was the fashion industry that ignite my desire to learn how to use Instagram to support business strategies. While studying Fashion Design and marketing at Central Saint Martin I saw how powerful Instagram is to tell stories in a compelling visual way.
Instagram always encourages their users to share “moments”. For business, the moments that your brand makes possible for your clients to achieve. Instagram blog advices to “Share experiences: Offer a view into the world or lifestyle that your brand makes possible through the eyes of the people who use your products and services.”
Fashion brands are great portraying lifestyle and storytelling, even without a caption on the picture. Mansur Gavriel, the company of the new ‘it’ bags for fashionistas, has been able to build a brand and generate a Birkin-esque waiting list (as BOF recalls) for their handbags in less than 2 years.
What is their recipe for success? They seek to inspire and make their followers aspire to their products. Even when they repost pictures from their clients (with the brand’s hashtag #happygirlhappybag) the pictures are telling their story and are so consistent to their company style. It is just beautiful to look at.
3. Build the community and you are able to sell online
I’ve commented before on how important it is to find your niche through the use of hashtags.
Another example of great use of the hashtag to attract their niche and encourage engagement was given by Michael Kors during the New York Fashion Week. “With #AllAccessKors, the brand saw more than 1.0MM likes and comments on Instagram – more than any other designer participating in the event”, as tracked by Curalate.
I often see followers asking questions about sizes, colours and where can they find the products on certain accounts. And clearly this is the kind of stuff you want to see in your accounts comments. This kind of conversations and engagement are only possible on brands that have build their community buy offering what their niche is interested in.
To build their community these brands had figured out who their clients are, had listened to what they want and have been tweaking their proposal the them. It takes time, no doubt, but it pays off in terms of sales and market research.
4. Use User Generated Content as social proof to inspire
The principle of social proof states that one of the ways we determine what is correct is to find what other people think is correct. Social proof is one of the strongest principles of persuasion. And e-commerce can hugely benefit from social proof as I will explain in a moment.
The use of User Generated Content serves two different purposes.
First, it helps to mitigate one of the barriers of e-commerce where the customer can’t touch or feel the product. Product images are a must in e-commerce. But pictures of your clients wearing your products leverage human psychology, showing other potential clients how does it look like in another human being. This is what Baublebar does brilliantly on their website, in addition to the product pictures they include Instagram pictures of the same piece of jewellery worn by a happy client. The client obviously can’t touch the earrings, but she can see that other people bought it, what they said in the captions of their pictures and how do the jewellery look like in a real person.