Earlier this year, the Council of Fashion Designers of America took the industry by surprise when it announced the recipient of its annual Media Award. For the first time, it wasn’t presented to a photographer, writer or editor. The 2015 Media Award went to … (wait for it) … Instagram.
That’s right – the photo-sharing app’s impact on the fashion industry has been deemed so influential that it was bestowed an award. Indeed, Instagram has given fashion figures and fans alike the ability to share and consume content like never before. Fashion figures can easily provide their audiences with behind-the-scenes peeks of their shows and works in progress. Fans, on the other hand, can experience exclusive events without actually being in attendance and receive in-depth looks into the lives of their favorite designers.
Instagram isn’t just impacting designers and fans, though. The platform is even changing the way fashion editors do their work. In a 2014 New York Times article, Eva Chen, Editor in Chief of Lucky magazine, reported she no longer has to make a push to see fashion events live. “I see the shows on Instagram now,” she said.
The buzz on Instagram during every New York Fashion Week is another indicator of the role the platforms plays in the industry. For the past few seasons, Curalate has been pulling and analyzing data to reveal how users engage with Instagram posts during the event. In February, we found that 340,076 photos were shared on Instagram during New York Fashion Week, an increase of 193% over the September 2014 show. This speaks volumes about the increasing value fashion fans are finding in the image platform. Marketers who aren’t paying attention to the action are likely to miss out on more than just engagement. With Instagram photos increasingly becoming gateways to ecommerce sites, brands will lose the opportunity to drive qualified traffic and revenue to their pages.
In honor of New York Fashion Week this season, we’d like to provide some insight into how Instagram has influenced fashion marketing beyond social. Take a look at these four impactful trends fashion marketers are tapping into.
1. Offline and Online Fashion Events Merge Into One
First and foremost, we must discuss the role Instagram now plays in fashion shows. Designers now promote hashtags during their shows to encourage audiences to share photos and engage on social platforms. Not only is it a good way to get fans engaged with the brand, but it serves as an excellent way to keep reporters and bloggers who are not in attendance aware of how the show is turning out.
Michael Kors does this well. The brand sees a ton of engagement during NYFW as a result of the #AllAccessKors hashtag. The hashtag is promoted offline and online well before the fashion event takes place. More than 7,000 photos posted to Instagram have been tagged with #AllAccessKors.
The brand could take it one step further by collecting the flurry of audience images and asking for permission to repurpose them in blogs, ads, emails and other content channels.
2. Image-Focused Blogs Make Waves
For years, retail marketers have adopted blogs as a medium to provide audiences with a perspective beyond the products they sell. But as Instagram has gained immense traction over the last couple years, we’ve seen a shift in the type of content posted to blogs. These days, blogs are much less text-based and much more visual. And, in fact, it isn’t uncommon to spot a blog (from brands and fashion bloggers alike) that emulate the feel of Instagram.
Tory Burch’s “Tory Daily” is a great example of this. While images are the main focus on the brand’s blog, the text content isn’t forgotten. Topics range from sports to music to (of course) fashion. Everything that’s blogged about gives fans a 360-view of what the Tory Burch lifestyle entails. This blog is a model for how brands can keep their fans engaged and interacting with content beyond social. And to further spark interest from readers, brands need to remember to give their audiences an easy way to buy what they see on blogs.
3. Repurposing Fashion Pieces is Now a Must
The prevalence of social media has led most fashionistas to think twice about being photographed repeatedly in the same outfit. No fashion influencer wants to be seen wearing the same dress multiple times over the span of a few days.
As a result, people are constantly seeking ways they can repurpose pieces to work with different ensembles. And fashion brands are tailoring their content to meet the needs of their selfie-taking fans.
Anthropologie, for example, often sends emails letting customers know how they can repurpose one item into three different outfits.
How-tos like this one perform well among millennials, who are a bit more conscious of their appearance as they know they could end up in a friend’s online photo at any given time.
4. Fan Images Thrive on Ecommerce Sites
Instagram has turned just about everyone into an amateur photographer. Whether it’s a beautiful skyline, a wonderful meal or an #ootd, people want to share it on Instagram. The proliferation of Instagram has transformed what people perceive as valuable and authentic. Seeing friends or family members taking part in a one-of-a-kind experience and visibly enjoying it, often drives people to want to take part in a cool experience, too.
Fashion retailers are tapping into this by taking fan photos directly onto their ecommerce sites. There’s a huge benefit for luxury brands here. Relying on user-generated content will make the brand more approachable and relatable, all while maintaining its aspirational nature with the inclusion of carefully curated photos.
Rebecca Minkoff has managed to do this successfully.
As a result of using inspirational images from Instagram on-site, Rebecca Minkoff increased the average time-on-site by 11% and drove a 20% click-through rate with its fan-image gallery.
Beauty brands are seeing the benefit, too. Sigma Beauty, for example, saw a 4x lift in time-on-site after adding UGC to their ecommerce site, and saw a 16x ROI.