Today’s fashion-forward consumer is just as likely to buy a skirt on their smartphone after seeing it on TikTok as they are to pick one up browsing in a department store. That’s to say that the way people learn about fashion trends, shop for the latest styles, and share their views on the fashion industry has changed enormously in the last few years. As well as keeping up with the latest fashion trends, brands also need to keep up with evolving consumer behaviors and new technologies.
Fashion, being the creative, and forward-thinking industry it is, was an early adopter of influencer marketing when it first became popular through fashion blogs, then later through Instagram. Now, in the age of social commerce, TikTok, and micro-influencers, how do brands continue to reach new audiences and drive sales? Let’s explore how brands can get the most from fashion influencer marketing today.
Social media builds connections between online brands, influencers, and smart consumers
Since the explosion of social media, new brands have found their way into the mainstream. Showcasing apparel through Instagram, Pinterest and blogs helped smaller brands gain visibility. Consumers were exposed to a new world of possibilities, and more diversity when exploring brands that cater to their needs and interests. This includes the rise of size-inclusive fashion brands, ethical sourcing and manufacturing practices, and brands that include models from diverse backgrounds.
Social media offers not only a new way to discover brands but a new way for shoppers to share their favorite finds with the world and build their own social following, leading to the rise of fashion influencers. People trust other people more than brands, making fashion influencers key partners for brands looking to create authentic connections and sell more online. Shoppers are actively seeking fashion content - it represents 25% of brand interactions on Instagram. With this in mind, what are the best practices for working with fashion influencers?
1. Find the right influencers for your brand
The right influencer isn’t just someone who can help you sell your product. Since fashion is about expressing your style, personality, and beliefs, your influencers should be aligned with your brand values and your audience. It’s not about choosing influencers with the highest number of followers, you want to make sure their audience is engaged and that they can speak authentically about your brand.
One good way to make sure an influencer is a good fit is to look at their audience demographic to see if it matches that of your target customers. For example, according to Upfluence’s report on influencer marketing in the fashion industry, the average high-street fashion influencer’s audience is 69% female and 39% of their followers are aged between 25-34. Taking a closer look to see if an influencer’s audience is made of ‘real’ followers (and not bots), and making sure their audience will be genuinely interested in content about your brand is key to building effective influencer partnerships. Doing this due diligence up-front is a win-win for both brands and influencers!
2. Your customers are your best influencers
Thanks to the way social media platforms like Instagram work, everyone is already voluntarily promoting products. It’s easy for a consumer to tag a brand in their posts, or mention a product in their Instagram story. Do you know who is already talking about your brand? (Hint, Upfluence has a great tool to listen to posts across various social channels in order to find out who is mentioning your brand!)
Your customers know and love your products. Their natural brand affinity makes them a great fit for your influencer campaigns. While they may not have a mega-influencer level of followers, nano and micro-influencers with a smaller online audience can be very beneficial for brands. They build an active tight-knit audience around specific niches such as thrift fashion, luxury fashion, eco-friendly fashion, etc, helping brands to strategically target new audiences and build interest in their brand. Identifying who your most influential customers are can be done using Upfluence’s integrations that analyze your customer database to pinpoint your most high-value partners.
3. Leverage influencers for user-generated-content
Influencers who post about your brand and encourage others to do the same through user-generated content can help build online awareness and positive sentiment for your brand. Brands such as DSW and Aerie do this well. DSW influencers post Instagram and TikTok content showing off their outfit inspiration around their favorite DSW shoes and encouraging others to do the same using #MyDSW. You can stay front of mind by encouraging your influencers to create seasonal looks featuring your products.
Aerie works with its brand ambassadors to curate real customer photos in their feed using the #realAerie hashtag. It’s a way for them to showcase their values of showing real bodies in swimwear and lingerie while encouraging their online customer base to interact with them online and build an even wider audience. User-generated content is totally authentic, making it even more appealing to your target audience. Working with influencers on this type of campaign can boost your brand’s overall reach and online engagement.
4. Sell more with social commerce
Fashion influencers have long been active on platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest, which have now developed social commerce features such as in-app shopping, link sharing, and product catalogs. The rise of social commerce and the ability for people to shop for anything from a new pair of socks to their prom dress from their favorite social media platform puts influencers front and center of the buying journey. With product discovery, consideration, and purchase all happening within the same app, whether that be through Instagram Shops, a product Pin, or a TikTok storefront, influencers can play a significant role in product discovery and showing social proof, which is crucial to driving more sales. Now’s the time to start investing in fashion influencer marketing campaigns on these platforms as part of a frictionless social shopping experience for your customers!