If you have $100 to spend on social media, you may want to spend it on taking these panelists out for a round of drinks. Third Wave Fashion hosted a raucous and informative panel last night featuring industry pros from Fohr Card, Olapic, WGSN, and InSparq. Here’s what we learned:
Opening with a brief demo from InSparq CEO Veronika Sonsev, the audience was introduced to a new “Trending Now” technology from the company that provides online shoppers with the ability to view products based on the community engagement particular items are receiving. Facebook engagement is always tough, but with conversion rates nearly doubling from effective interaction, it’s technology that can’t be ignored.
Considering that statistic, the meetup turned its focus to the panel, comprised of industry experts that make social media work for brands everyday. Led by our very own Liza Kindred, panelists Jose de Cabo of OlaPic, Rachel Arthur of WGSN and James Nord of FohrCard provided insight to the trends of social media optimization and what is appropriate today to grow and maintain a brand’s community.
Though the keyword of the night seemed to be “conversion”, and the questions focused on generating sales, the resounding answer always came back to experience.
From the very beginning, the theme that has been resonating this month was alive and well, especially with an opinion from de Cabo about the loop in engagement closing as brands shrink the gap between their social community and their online commerce sites. Though conversion can obviously be affected by the minimizing that hole in engagement, Arthur reminded the audience that the use of social media is totally dependent on what your brand does and what it wants to measure.
For instance, a luxury brand does not need to focus on the conversion rate of their community to customers, because the product isn’t priced for the whole community. Essentially, you don’t have to be able to afford Gucci to appreciate it, and that appreciation develops the brand awareness that a luxury brand can benefit from in the long run.
Along the same lines, Nord suggested that social media isn’t necessarily about developing a new way to measure sales, but that successful social media campaigns come from using your product to create a story. Without a story, the content is basically as effective as billboard: your exposure may increase, but there is no good way to determine if it was helpful at all.
Despite the hit-and-miss stigma that social media carries, human nature has provided a serious platform for the fashion tech industry to leverage itself on. What is that platform? Vanity. That’s right, a simple concept, but as de Cabo said,
“Vanity is a very powerful thing.”
The notion that people want what others have is what drives the industry, Sonsev alluded to it in the opening demo, and the amount of user generated content proves that. The key then, is to capitalize on what is being handed to your brand for free. Remember the theme of the month? Creating an experience? This where it comes back.
The most successful social media strategy invites fans and customers to join conversations about the brand, and the content being generated from outside the brand provides an excellent place to start. According to Nord, the best way, and a tactic that companies like Chanel employ, is to seek the opinions of the storytellers that are on the edges of your community. A person with one million Twitter followers has a process, one that they’ll drop you into and expect it to work like it always has, but the low-key blogger that’s phenomenal at developing a story is hungry to be better, and will almost always work harder.
In the end, you have to engage the community you’re building. Start conversations with quality content, always have a visual, and make your audience want to be a part of something bigger. As far as purely making money, your numbers matter, but they can’t bog you down. Keep your process simple and centered; it may be slow at first, but the quality relationships built out of the process will payoff in sustained loyalty for the duration of the brand.
Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.
Jeff Wilber is a guest writer from TheFreelanceRider.