The days of a brand’s success relying solely on the quality of its goods are well and truly over. We live in the digital age, where it is fundamental to harness the power of social media as a marketing tool to avoid being left behind. With global brands such as Nike having over 4 million fans on Facebook, the advertising opportunities appear to be endless. But how much profit really lies behind each “like”?
When reports recently emerged that Facebook’s popularity may be on the wane, it raised serious concerns surrounding the longevity of advertising in social media. Social network monitoring site Inside Facebook suggested that during May, Facebook lost 6 million users in the US and 100,000 in the UK. One theory for this drop-off is that users are feeling bombarded by spam-littered news feeds, leading them to flee the site altogether. It’s becoming clear that for a brand to stay ahead of the game, it needs to find innovative ways to keep its audience engaged online.
The same week that news leaked of Facebook suffering a downfall, online retail giant Net-a-Porter unveiled an interactive element to its website called Net-a-Porter Live. This feature offers visitors a portal into the shopping habits of customers around the world, highlighting in real-time what items they are adding to their shopping baskets and wish lists. This concept is the brand’s first step into developing its own social network.
In a similar vein, the “fashion interaction” company Schway recently produced a multi-channel experience for New Look customers on the Channel 4 website. The B2B service was commissioned to create an application that allows teen shoppers to take a style quiz and then piece together their own collection using a virtual outfit builder. Visitors can click to purchase their creation, share it with their Facebook friends and even get the chance to win a stylist job at New Look.
Although bespoke social networks might only be applicable to the major players in the industry, social media continues to pave the way for smaller brands to communicate their identity. In the same way you would expect to receive first-rate customer service in a small boutique, independent brands can now build relationships with their customers online, encouraging them to become interactive communities.
This notion is exemplified by the social website Velvet Brigade, which allows aspiring designers and trend-obsessed fashionista’s to create their own brand. The websites mission is to “revolutionise the traditional fashion regime” by giving its users the means to express their talent and share their ideas.
While global players may have the budget to invest in huge e-marketing campaigns, they often stumble when it comes to authenticity. This is where an indie brand can triumph and have its voice heard. As we become more experienced in this relatively new form of marketing, it is clear that quality is far more important than quantity in social media. Whether you have a million followers or a humble few hundred, if you don’t interact and build relationships with your fans, you may as well have none.