By Lexie Hammesfahr
I’m lounging on my couch after a long day of classes, watching the most recent Saturday Night Live recording on my TiVo.
As I idly scroll through the latest pins on my Pinterest feed, I notice something different: Individual users aren’t the only ones pinning their favorite looks and fashion pieces. Retailers, including big-time fashion brands, are as well.
This trend spans across the entire social media realm, not just Pinterest. Facebook, Instagram, FourSquare and Twitter are just a few of the social media outlets retailers use to reach consumers and clients.
Social media channels weren’t initially on the fashion marketing radar. A survey by the stated that none of the respondents had a Pinterest presence.
Today, users follow an average of 9.3 retail companies on pared with 6.9 retailers for Facebook users, according to the 2012 Social and Mobile Commerce Study released by Shop.org, comScore and the Partnering Group
But despite the growing popularity of Pinterest, Facebook remains the social network used most by the top 250 Internet retailers, with 97 percent of them on the site, according to Campalyst. Facebook is closely followed by Twitter, YouTube, Google + and Pinterest.
Finding the right mix
International fashion designer and SMU student Kira Plastinina uses multiple social media outlets to reach her clients.
“I feel like it is particularly big here because of the nature of the work—very ‘picture friendly,’” she says.
Plastinina has a separate Facebook page for each of her lines, Lublu Kira Plastinina and her namesake line, Kira Plastinina, “which is very useful in sharing pictures of celebrities wearing my clothes, etc,” she says.
One particular social media campaign that Plastinina used to publicize her lines was a “spot the dress” campaign in Moscow. The idea was for girls to take pictures of other girls wearing Plastinina’s limited edition collection on the street.
She also has a Twitter account for each of her lines to tweet about sales, promotions and events where customers can meet her.
Plastinina promotes her collections through Pinterest as well, although this outlet is not as popular in Russia as it is in the U.S., she says.
“I like it, though, because it’s an easy way to get your product into the ‘social media’ bubble.”
Taking social media to the next level
London-based retailer Topshop took social media to the next level during this year’s London Fashion Week.
Topshop’s campaign “Shoot the Show” allowed consumers to pause the livestream on their favorite looks and customize colors and accessories, as well as order pieces to be delivered in three months, according to Retail Week.
Everything in the video, including music and cosmetics, could be purchased.
The company branded the concept as “social entertainment,” says Justin Cooke, chief marketing officer at Topshop. “It’s social, it’s commerce and it’s entertainment all rolled into one.”
Topshop and Kira Plastinina aren’t the only brands that have mastered the social media world. Kristie Ramirez, who writes about style and fashion for Texas Monthly and F!D Luxe, thinks Oscar de la Renta has been very successful with social media ventures as well.
“Oscar de la Renta has done an amazing job, unprecedented really, with their support and promotion of Erika Bearman, aka ,” she says.
Other companies Ramirez praises for their success in blogging are Neiman Marcus, Rag & Bone, and Barneys.
“It’s like retailers now have their own daily magazines where they’re able to translate their point of view through daily posts. It’s brilliant,” she says.
SMU alum Sarah Bray, social media coordinator for Neiman Marcus, echoes Ramirez’ thoughts about blogging: “What’s so fun about my job is that I get to report from inside the fashion industry about the fashion industry, which gives me an unbelievable perspective as a writer,” Bray says.
Showing a different side of the product
Being an expert in navigating social media isn’t always a walk in the park. Grace Davis graduated from SMU with a Fashion Media minor last spring. As social media coordinator for the self-tanning company Xen-Tan, she says one of her biggest challenges is to “keep it fresh all the time.”
Even though mastering these new tools may present a challenge for brands, social networks allow consumers to see a different side of their products.
For instance, Davis says, social media allow her to show her company’s customer base, as well as new clients, that “Xen-Tan isn’t just for the summer months” or special events. “It can be incorporated into your lifestyle,” she says.
Davis notes that social media have helped establish the brand as a luxury self-tanner. But “turning up the heat on our social media can take the brand to the next level of success.”
That next level of success can be achieved when a company begins to form a relationship with its customers by reaching out to them through various social networks.
As online shopping gains popularity — and catalogue and magazine orders begin to decline — social media take on a bigger role in the fashion industry.
However, although people may be re-pinning or “liking” an outfit doesn’t mean they’re buying it. A major goal for companies with an online presence will be not only getting their items out there, but also getting consumers to actually buy them.
“Overall, social media helps drive sales and traffic to the stores and is good for [Word of Mouth] promotions and special events that we are having,” says Plastinina.
And who knows, maybe the next time you’re pinning in the middle of class, you’ll actually decide to purchase one of those pieces.