Tuesday 06 December 2016

Friday Five: How Fashion (and other) Brands Can Leverage Instagram

Mobile photography apps like Instagram allow brands to tell their story and connect with their current and aspirational audience in a completely new and visual way. Fashion brands have paved the way for other brands testing out the mobile platform; brands like Gucci, Levi’s and Burberry were some of the early adopters on Instagram. Whether it’s giving their audiences an inside peek at events and upcoming products or tying their Instagram presence to a larger marketing campaigns, fashion brands are proving how valuable Instagram is as a storytelling service.

Here are five ways brands, specifically fashion-focused companies, leverage Instagram to tell their story and connect with their audience in new and innovative ways:

1. Showcase company culture

While the audience of fashion-obsessed men and women is quite large, only a small sliver of them know what the day-in and day-out world of a large fashion brand is like. Instagram allows companies to humanize their brand and connect with a much more mainstream audience. Oscar de la Renta is a brand that has used the social space to give a larger audience access to its products with a click of a button. The @oscarprgirl Instagram account has 68,000+ Instagram followers and typically posts photos showcasing a “day in the life” of the brand. Oscar de la Renta is a high-end fashion house that was previously “out of reach” for the typical fashion lover. While many may not spend $1,000 on an ODLR blouse, consumers are able to get a glimpse into the brand culture through their social presence. Using Instagram to share what your audience may not normally have access to is something all brands–fashion-related or not–can do to personalize themselves among a larger audience.

2. Integrate Instagram to company website

Brands also use Instagram as a storytelling service by integrating the platform to the company website. Free People recently received coverage for integrating customer-submitted Instagram photos to the product pages on http://freepeople.com. The brand assigned hashtags to selected items from their site and asked consumers to upload a photo wearing the specific product, tagging them with the appropriate hashtag. Photos then appear on the Free People site, allowing potential customers looking to purchase a product the ability to scroll through “real life” photos. Bergdorf Goodman takes a slightly different approach and uses Instagram’s Application Programming Interface (API) to map out user-submitted Instagram photos on an interactive map. Anyone can then go to Berdorf Goodman’s “Shoes About Town” online map and view the images (tagged with the #bgshoes hashtag) as well as the various store locations.

3. Host a contest or promotion

A third way that brands use Instagram creatively is by hosting a contest or promotion on the platform. Fashion retailer HM launched an Instagram contest around its Marni collaboration asking the audience to submit photos of “what inspires them” with the #MarniatHM hashtag. All submitted photos appeared in a Facebook application where users could vote for their favorite images. A panelist of popular fashion bloggers were the ultimate judges, providing the top ten submissions with products from the Marni for HM collection. This was an excellent use of Instagram’s API by providing the HM audience with a seamless Instagram and Facebook experience. Contests like this are a fantastic way brands can get their audience involved and interested in the company.

4. Utilize Guest Instagrammers

With the large number of popular Instagrammers out there, brands have a unique opportunity to collaborate with influencers in a new way. Instagram opens the doors to let influencers “take over” a brand’s social presence. Take a cue from Lucky magazine; the publication frequently asks popular fashion bloggers and Instagrammers to “guest Instagram” on the magazine’s behalf. Recently, fashion blogger Taylor Sterling from Sterling Style took over Lucky’s Instagram account, as did Liz, the popular @newyorkcity Instagrammer. Sportswear retailer Puma partnered with 10 bloggers and sent them to Abu Dhabi for the Volvo Ocean Race to “live Instagram” the event using specific event hashtags. Collaborating with popular bloggers and Instagram photographers is a way to visually connect with a brand’s audience – and potentially unreached fans and followers – in an innovative and “behind the scenes” way.

5. Connect the online to offline through events

Certain brands go above and beyond to take the Instagram experience from the mobile device to the offline world. One way to do this is through leveraging Instagram to host an Instagram-related event. Prescription eyeglass brand Warby Parker has received attention for their NYC-based InstaWalks. The brand invited the 650-person Instagram Meetup group on a photo walk around NYC and provided participants with a pair of glasses to photograph. They received over 650 photos with the designated hashtag that they can use for promotion or marketing materials moving forward. London-based fashion house Burberry is a seasoned pro at all things social and recently used Instagram to showcase their Spring/Summer 2012 collection from the runway. This is just another way the brand connects the offline with the online – by showing each and every look from the collection live via Instagram.

Brands are bombarded with new social platforms and mediums on a daily basis. The important factor to consider is finding the platform that works best to tell the brand’s story – and take the brand from simply a product to an experience. Burberry’s chief creative officer, Christopher Bailey, explains their use of social platforms perfectly: “A brand is not just about product, it’s about experience as well and experiences need to come from the center of a community.” Instagram is one platform that brands – like the fashion-focused ones shared above – are able to harness a larger experience beyond the point-of-purchase.

What brands do you follow on Instagram and why?

Image credit: Orangeadnan

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