The Rise of the Influencer: Social Media & Brands
The days of flipping through glossy pages of a magazine once a month to discover the latest trends are over. The new generation of shoppers are inspired by lifestyle as much as product and are connected to celebs, trends, and news 24/7. With the help of social networks, you can discover fashion in real-time, just by scrolling.
Today, close to 30% of the world’s population uses at least one social media channel, and it’s expected to reach some 2.95 billion by 2020, around a third of the entire population. It’s no wonder that fashion brands, and young designers, are turning to these mediums to engage and build communities. No matter if you’re a long withstanding brand, or an up-and-coming designer, social media provides you with the voice to share instantly and engage with users around the globe they couldn’t have before.
Instagram especially, the most visual of social networks, has tapped into the fashion world’s ecosystem and become an integral part of the conversation. With over 800 million monthly users, Instagram is the seventh largest social networking platform in the world. But in the fashion world, it’s probably number one.
The increasing adoption of social media is happening because major fashion houses understand the very real influence on the customer. The young millennial consumer feeds on Instagram stories, Facebook newsfeeds and tweets. They follow celebrities, and social media stars, looking for the next trends through being transported into a fantasy world of fashion that is put directly in their fingers. Fast fashion retailer Boohoo reported that its profits doubled after paying celebrities to promote its products on Instagram to 16- to 24-year-old fans.
Celebrity endorsement isn’t the only way brands are getting their products out to consumers. The rise of a generation of bloggers and Instagrammers are the new messengers for brands in the social media age. One example is Chiara Ferragni, a leading fashion influencer with over 10.3 million Instagram followers and is worth about $12 million. Through her photos, her followers can see the latest trends and essentially “window-shop” through the ideas of a storyteller, not just a brand.
Social media stars are becoming so influential for brand exposure, that there are even some that do not even exist! For example, Shudu Gram with over 35.6K followers or Miquela Sousa with 564K followers on Instagram are CGI influencers being created for the sake of increasing social followings and promote beauty and fashion products.
One thing for sure is that social media is a huge growth for retail with over 35% of women in the US citing it as a top influencer for clothing purchases. Social media brings fashion in the hands of the consumer, visually, and even now coupled with technologies to allow you to purchase directly from your newsfeed.
For retailers, social media may carry more weight than mannequins in their own store windows. User-generated content through social media stars evangelize a brand that is shared throughout their consumer’s own networks, thus evoking even more brand loyalty. The downside, is in a world where people post daily, or even hourly, once an item is shared, no one wants to be seen wearing it again. Brands however, can find other ways to interact with users via social media such as chatbots, payment methods and more. The possibilities are endless for fashion brands on social today.
In a fast fashion world where the consumer is number one, brands need to get out there and engage with users on all channels – online and offline. As a millennial designer, Rebecca Minkoff, understands the need to build a relationship with her customers and turns to social media to get her story out. “Bloggers ushered in a democratization of fashion,” she says, “where real-life women can evangelize brands and dictate style, not just magazines.”