Did you know that in 2011, there will be ONE TRILLION brand mentions via social networks? Last week, over 1,000 participants from 20 countries joined 75 fashion industry experts for the Fashion140 Conference at Lincoln Center in New York City.
Sponsored by LIM College, KMart Fashion and FashionSnoops, the event was a first real attempt to gather the fashion market as a community where people could openly share their experiences and discuss ideas. The market is known for its visual presentations and for sell/buy marketplaces, but rarely does it act as a professional supportive community. The largest topic of discussion amongst conference attendees was how social media has permanently altered the ways retailers are building relationships and marketing products to their customers.
Psychology Of The Social, Female Consumer
To start the conference, TEDWomen’s speaker Johanna Blakley shared insights on how women are shaping the social web. According to Blakley, women outnumber men on every social media platform on the web, including Twitter and Facebook. Because of this, social retail behavior in the fashion sector has taken off; 55% of women use mobile devices to shop and 59% use social networks.
Brands Have To Care About Their Customers
In order to remain profitable, let alone stay in business, brands and retailers have to show that they actually care about their customers. Psychologist Tom Guarriello shared that consumers are driven by six basic emotions – fear, anger, surprise, disgust, sadness and joy. Joy is the only universally positive emotion and it’s the only emotion that brands should strive to create for their customers. Joy creates connection to the brand, as well as enables customers to rationalize their actions, like buy that certain handbag or pair of shoes. In order to create this connection, brands need to ask themselves, “What would I say right now if I really cared about my customer?”
Don’t Make Your Social Media Strategy Overly Complicated
Customer Engagement isn’t rocket science. Dmitri Siegel, Executive Director of Marketing for Urban Outfitters, shared the retailer’s simple formula for creating successful social media strategy: Think, Connect, Listen, Party and Measure.
- THINK: Don’t think of it as a social media strategy, think of it as your INTENTION strategy. How is your brand forming a bond with your customers that’s deeper than shopping? Moreover, how are you engaging and connecting with them in between their purchases?
- CONNECT: How is your brand connecting its customers with each other? This is a hard thing to do; provide online customers with ways to ask each other questions, share advice via product reviews and find new friends that are culturally relevant to their lives via things you do on Facebook.
- PARTY: How are you using social media to capture the essence of your brand? Do you really want to be friends with everyone or can you refine the groups your brand is engaging with online? Urban Outfitters uses music, and its iTunes storefront is one its top traffic referrers.
- LISTEN: Don’t talk about yourself! Your brand is part of a lifestyle, so talk about your fans and the things they care about.
- MEASURE: Align measurement to your brand’s social media objectives. A brand’s social media KPI should be TOTAL INTERACTION, not sales.
Brands Should Engage Care-Fully
Our economy is social driven, we all participate in the economy of fashion; if you dress, you’re in fashion. When you engage your friends and fans, do so with care and with a full investment of time. Brands must be consistent with their social interactions and be emotionally available to their customers. If you don’t emphathize with your customers, you’ll become irrelevant to their social lives and you’ll lose them.
Social media has humanized even the most exclusive brands. By focusing on social engagement, brands have stirred the aspirational desires of consumers again. By being more approachable, they’ve driven consumers to start shopping via social channels.
Fashion140 was co-curated by Jeff Pulver, producer of the 140 Characters Conference — which analyzes effects of real-time internet on businesses in varying industries — and Lilly Berelovich, CEO of Fashion Snoops — an innovative online forecasting service. The partnership started at one of Jeff’s events where the two met and decided it was time to narrow down the focus in the fashion market.
“Not many people know that clothing has the largest sales value of all e-commerce categories,” said Jeff Pulver. “Surprisingly it still makes only 7% of the total 370B dollars spent overall on clothing, which demonstrates the unrealized potential. To effectively compete is imperative for retailers and brands to establish clear digital and social media strategies”.
To read about how the Fashion140 Conference was the social fashion event of the year, check out my column on What’s Trending on CBS News.
Photo: Fashion140 Conference – New York, NY. Original frame from artist Maya Villiger, made exclusively for Kmart Fashion or The Studio Booth.