With the rain continuing to pour down and most of us looking forward to the Summer, the fashion pack is already getting excited about the Autumn and Winter of 2014.
The world of fashion is at its busiest right now, with London Fashion Week in full swing and last week Pure London hosted in London Olympia.
This year the revamped Pure show saw a host of fashion brands showing off new season stock and discussing what will be hot for AW14. Masculine shapes in soft, feminine fabrics will be big in womenswear next season, focusing on tonal colours rather than strong colour blocks. The sports luxe look will continue to wield its influence on detailing and styles in all manner of subtle ways.
As well as a forecast of the forthcoming trends, there was much talk around the engagement of shoppers using social media. The use of social media for consumer brands is two-fold; firstly, it’s used to reach out to a larger audience, and secondly to translate that reach into advocates of your brand, i.e. people who like what you do and who share/talk about your brand. And with social media sites increasingly acting as key referrers of site traffic, retailers in the know have begun to sit up and take notice of this powerful channel.
“For brands – fashion or otherwise – seeking to dip their toes into the flow of social media communication, the first thing you need to know is there is no ‘quick fix’ method of building a following. Beware wolves in sheep’s clothing promising X number of likes for X number of pounds; social media should be seen as an investment in your long-term communications strategy and there various ways to build a strong social presence,” says Sarah Bartlett, from Freshwater’s team in London.
The main focus of social media for fashion brands should be producing high quality, shareable content. With fashion this pertains particularly to good quality images and video which reflect the brand’s identity. Brands should bear in mind that content that works well in other areas –such as traditional media – may not translate to social media so it’s important to think ahead to your content strategy and how a brand can feed its feeds.
That is not to say that every fashion brand social media page need be identical. Indeed, much like each brand has an identity, every social media page has a personality. A key benefit of social media is that content can be monitored and strategy can be adapted from the direct feedback received from followers in real time.
Demonstrated by the sheer clout of the likes of Bip Ling and Susie Bubble, retailers should ignore the fashion blogging community at their peril.
“We’re constantly working to identify the most influential bloggers in any particular fashion niche for our clients – be that plus size or maternity,” continued Sarah.
“With so many mutual benefits to the brand and blogger, a dedicated blogger engagement programme can boost a brand’s social presence tenfold by tapping into the network of followers enjoyed by key online fashion personalities who talk about and engage with your brand.”
The fantastic thing about fashion is its ability to adapt to its audience and respond to new technology with bold ideas and creative thinking. With this in mind, it’s no wonder so many clothing companies are leading the way in integrating social media into their public relations strategy. Yes, it does mean an investment in both time and money, but the value of a great, highly engaged relationship with the consumer is priceless.