Last week, we had the absolute pleasure of picking the brains of three of Vancouver’s finest social media-savvy fashionistas: Myriam Laroche (Founder of Eco Fashion Week), Kathleen Ong (Evangelist at Wantering), and Grace Carter (Social Media Senior Manager at Aritzia). Whether or not our event attendees’ work experiences were directly related to the fashion industry, we know they walked away with lots of valuable nuggets on how to devise and build on an effective social media strategy.
Social media may very well be the perfect accessory that any brand or company can wear, but we were reminded that it isn’t “one-size-fits-all”. Here are some of the thoughtful questions and carefully crafted answers gathered from the night:
How do you determine which platforms are most conducive to populate?
One of the first orders of business that needs to be addressed when finally making the decision to enter the vast social media realm is deciding which platform(s) to conquer.
It is a requisite to be very familiar with each social media channel available and what they can afford. Sure, Twitter and Facebook may seem to be the go-to platform giants, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only ones, or the right ones, for you. Take a step back and review the goals and objectives of your product or business. The next step would be to closely evaluate and understand your target audience. Find out where your niche audience actively is, and spread yourself across the digital space accordingly.
Myriam Laroche shared some insight on her digital baby, Eco Fashion Week. She has found that with their respective burgeoning online community, Facebook and visually rich media appear to go hand-in-hand and continue to be well-received.
It is important to grasp that each platform attracts unique audiences and demographics. Tailor your content strategy in such a way that it aligns itself with the habits and media tendencies of your online customers. The communities you cultivate online react differently to different media on different platforms.
When incorporating social media into your overall strategy, what was the most challenging aspect starting out?
Signing up for social media accounts is effortless and takes mere minutes to carry out. It’s the next step that leads to premature panic attacks, pacing back and forth, and biting your nails in sheer anticipation: playing the waiting game.
When asked what the scariest part was, a resounding “starting from zero” came from our panelists. Kathleen Ong, whose current role with Wantering is fueled by the buzz that is generated within the digital space, elaborated on the sentiments of this scary first step as she drew a parallel with a marriage proposal. Putting in a lot of thought, investing in many resources, and putting yourself out there not knowing how the person on the other end will react, is much like reaching out to your online followers and fans via social media for the first time. Will they like you all the same? Will they stick with you and remain invested in this relationship you both have worked so hard to grow and develop, or will they leave you (broken-hearted)?
Being yourself by ensuring your brand’s vision and personality genuinely shine through both online and offline helps to preserve brand integrity, giving you a better chance at safeguarding and fostering your relationship with your loyal and prospective customers. Like in any relationship worth pursuing, it is imperative to be honest, generous, receptive, and trustworthy! (Having a sense of humor is a bonus).
When asked what was needed to devise a bullet-proof crisis communication plan, Grace Carter of Aritzia opened up a fresh wound that is in the process of healing. Their brand took a hit both online and offline when some of their clothing tag labels were misconstrued. How did they cope? They honored the transparency of social media by owning up to their mistake while issuing an apology, and pulled the tags off their shelves. They completely understood they were wrong, and wanted everyone to be made aware of their intentions and sensitivity to the issue.
Two tips that can be extracted and applied to your existing crisis communication plan if they aren’t already in practice:
1. Always be on. Social media done right should not be limited to a 9-5 time frame. Be quick to react, but don’t be hasty. Hours, in this fast-paced digital age, equates to years. Be it early morning or late-night, making yourself readily available ‘after hours’ shows your commitment to impeccable and timely customer service.
2. Ensure your internal communication plan is solid. When a crisis does arise, having a well-established internal communication plan in tact will help ensure that everyone within the company is well-informed in a timely manner.
Have a strong sense of brand. If you aren’t completely confident with the values your brand is trying to convey, how do you expect others to accept you and take you seriously?
Be proactive and don’t be shy. Connecting with the right people online can translate offline and transform into meaningful business and personal relationships.
Celebrate success – big and small – publicly and privately. Whether you amassed a nice-looking number of followers or executed a well-received online campaign, celebrating these triumphs is healthy for your working environment as it reinforces that you and your team are on the right track. On the other side of the screen, your loyal fans and followers are just waiting to give you a well-deserved standing ovation!
To round off our riveting discussion, we asked our panelists to name some of their favourite brands carrying out commendable practices online. Among them were Kate Spade, Mr. Porter, and Burberry. These brands have their own unique ways of captivating fashion forward, digitally literate customers. What do they have in common? Quality content, engaging conversation, consistency, personality, and striking a balance between these characteristics.