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If you’re a clothing brand without a social media strategy in 2021, do you even exist?
No, not to your audience at least.
Customers don’t stroll through malls anymore browsing the latest styles for inspiration to build their wardrobes. Instead, your audience does all their window shopping online – mainly through social media.
They follow their favourite fashion bloggers on Instagram.
They tap through Stories.
They scroll through image carousels on Facebook or Instagram posts.
Unfortunately, too many classic fashion brands take more of a generic approach to social media.
Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram give you so many tools for reaching the right audiences and personalising content. There’s no need for any one-size-fits-all content.
That’s why today we’ll cover all the most important tools, tips, and techniques for maximising social media for clothing brands in 2021.
First things first. Make sure you’re approaching social media the right way.
People don’t follow clothing brands on social media just to hear about promotions and see branded content. They want to see how other people like them are wearing your clothing. They want inspiration for building their style. They want to know what’s new.
The best social media content for clothing brands brings people together. It connects you with your audience and your audience with each other.
Facebook knows you want people to buy things. Facebook also knows they want to keep people from leaving their app. Why force people onto your website landing pages to shop when they can buy right through the app?
Facebook Shops and Instagram Shopping create a win-win situation for both parties.
Customers can browse, save items, and checkout without leaving the Facebook or Instagram app for a 100% seamless experience.
Keep in mind, the shopping experience is clearly designed for mobile:
I will say, the search, categories, and filtering could use some work, but I have no doubt Facebook will make improvements in time. Although categories are available on Facebook Shops, not every shop uses them, and the slow loading makes it tough to browse.
Instagram Shopping is only available on mobile devices. They look a lot like Facebook but Instagram is no stranger to embedded product promotions in images, so they’ve got the format down pretty well:
I wouldn’t recommend adding your entire store to Facebook and Instagram because it can get overwhelming. Instead, create categories for your top collections or styles and direct customers to your site for more items.
I suggest creating at least two Facebook groups – or more depending on which market segments you target with your clothing lines.
Your first group should be a clearly branded group for your VIPs.
You might want to create two versions of this group: one public and one private. In this group, you’ll share special coupons, insider information on products under development, links to presales, and any other exclusive content to make your customers feel appreciated and special.
Your second group (or set of groups) should be a little more incognito. Instead of blatant brand promotions and news, these groups will focus more on style and trends. You’ll include more curated content and encourage others to do the same.
If one doesn’t exist yet, now’s the time to create your brand’s subreddit too. The Lululemon subreddit appears pretty active. The mods even have a recurring complaint thread – perfect for recon.
It should seem almost mandatory at this point, especially for clothing brands, but don’t underestimate bloggers and influencers.
I also can’t stress enough the importance of doing your research.
Far too often, brands see follower counts and put blinders up. An audience analysis will tell you if a potential influencer’s followers fall within your target demographic – and how engaged their audience is too.
In fact, you might be better off choosing niche lifestyle bloggers instead of fashion bloggers. What do people “do” while wearing your clothes? Find those influencers. They’ll also be more likely to already use and love your clothing.
On one hand, I like the idea of clicking on a branded hashtag and seeing tons of awesome user-generated content. On the other hand, your brand’s page should at least appear in the results for every branded hashtag too.
It shows you’re active on social media and helps customers find you.
I also recommend choosing a few catchy non-branded hashtags to add a little personality and reach to each post. Research your hashtags ahead of time and switch them up based on the season or latest trend.
Reebok, for example, uses hashtags extremely sparingly and only for the individual collection or style:
When (not if) something goes wrong, where’s the first place you think customers go to vent? Social media.
You don’t have to dig far on any brand’s social media page to find complaints about the sizing, quality, shipping, and anything else you can imagine.
Don’t be the brand that removes negative comments. Instead, respond to them. Equip your social media manager to function as a customer service rep responding to comments, solving problems, and replying to messages.
I wouldn’t be surprised if that Lululemon January complaint thread pinned at the top of the subreddit was the idea of someone on their marketing team running the subreddit as a mod:
You put a ton of energy into collecting reviews and feedback from your customers, right? (Well, I hope you do at least.)
Why wait for shoppers to seek out reviews? Scour your feedback for the funniest, most interesting, and attention-grabbing testimonials you can find.
Use your brand colours to craft graphics with the copy for Facebook and Instagram. You could also overlay reviews and testimonials over footage and graphics in promotional video content.
The bottom line is, just don’t let your reviews sit around and collect dust.
Pay attention to other clothing brands on Instagram. You might notice they almost never upload their own original content. And why should they bother?
If you watch your tags and mentions on Instagram, you should have enough high-quality content to keep your brand’s page full year-round.
Today’s phones, for example, are loaded with the highest quality camera technology and editing software. In other words, your fans can take pro-level shots of your products from anywhere.
Almost every post on the Alo Yoga Instagram page is user-generated content from yoga instructors or customers:
Stories are so useful for clothing brands.
First of all, publishing to Stories gives you valuable real estate at the top of your followers’ feeds. No fighting against the algorithm or waiting for your place in the scroll. If someone views Stories, they’ll get to yours eventually.
But it gets better. With Instagram allowing you to save Stories on your profile permanently, you can create Story highlights for each season’s collections or certain styles.
Reebok has Story highlights set up for certain collections it’s promoting:
Strategise Stories for your fall collections, sneak peeks for new styles, Reels, and even user-generated content.
J. Peterman has their fall style Story highlight at the top of their page. Notice the relatable language: “those in-between days.” You think “yep, that’s exactly what I need.”
Honestly, most clothing brands could stand to step up their content marketing game. Activewear brands stick to highlighting their sponsored athletes. Others publish seasonal clothing guides or gift guides.
I recommend studying your audience on a deeper level so you can create better content for them. Luckily, social media like Instagram and Reddit also give you plenty of sources for conducting recon like this.
What hobbies do your customers have? How did they spend their time during quarantine? What problems do they face that have nothing to do with clothing? What causes do your customers care about?
Patagonia is one of the few clothing brands absolutely killing it with their content marketing, particularly video. Their YouTube channel is home to full-length documentaries on topics like the environment, outdoor sports, indigenous cultures, and tons of other interesting stuff.
Here’s a look at their trailer playlist:
Speaking of Patagonia’s documentaries, video is really your best medium for boosting engagement and making an impact on your audience.
You might notice that most clothing companies shy away from video content because it’s costly to produce. But the truth is, you can create some truly awesome videos if you just understand your audience. It’s that simple.
Do you think Patagonia would keep investing in long-form documentaries if it wasn’t profitable? Of course not.
Patagonia’s Instagram is filled with engaging video content too, if you couldn’t guess.
Their IGTV page has tons of short-form documentaries and their main page has engaging graphic-style content too.
Social media is the perfect place to connect with your customers on a more personal level. Case in point: behind-the-scenes shots and footage.
You have lots of opportunities here:
BTS footage also gives you a chance to highlight your high-quality ingredients and ethical practices. Sustainability is a big one right now too. Most clothing companies have a whole Instagram Stories highlight dedicated to their sustainability commitments and practices.
While high-quality images are awesome, they’re not enough to leave a lasting impression on your audience.
You know what they say: looks aren’t everything. Personality matters – often much more!
Develop a set of guidelines that outline your brand’s unique personality, voice, and tone across each social media platform. People like to hear familiar voices and stories. That’s often why they follow brand pages in the first place.
J. Peterman is known for its distinct personality, storytelling, and flowery language in catalogue descriptions. (Yes, the same fashion brand from Seinfeld.)
The famous fashion company carries that same personality over onto its social media pages:
Good news. Social media’s technology makes it almost too easy to retarget shoppers who abandoned your page while browsing or filling their shopping carts.
The most important thing to remember here is tone. Retargeting can get rude and creepy fast if it’s not thoughtful.
I remember an athleticwear brand used to send abandoned cart emails with subject lines like “Did your Wi-Fi go out?” No, their Wi-Fi didn’t go out. Something happened that prevented them from checking out – possibly the company’s high fees or shipping costs.
Instead, focus on emotions like urgency by highlighting your limited supply of the item or offering a time-sensitive coupon. You might also use your retargeting ads to promote relevant reviews for the product in question.
Apps like Instagram are specifically designed for mobile browsing. If your shopping landing pages and homepage aren’t optimised for mobile, what’s the point?
Shoppers want an instantaneous and seamless experience as they shift off-app to your site. If your site takes too long to load, people will just hit the back button and go back to scrolling.
Mobile-friendly shopping isn’t only about web design either. Your entire checkout process must be frictionless as well. For example:
Your social media followers likely include your most loyal fans. Think about it: Do you follow every brand you only somewhat like on social media? Probably not.
That’s why platforms like TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram are perfect for building hype for your upcoming product releases.
Instagram Reels, TikTok, and Facebook Stories are all especially useful because they propel your content to the top of newsfeeds. Plus, you can add extra features like music, stickers, and polls to boost engagement.
Who doesn’t love free stuff?
Giveaways are a sure-fire way to get your social media audience engaged and interacting with your page. It almost feels like cheating.
Prizes like vacations are probably out of the question for the time being. Instead, offer up some of your latest styles or get creative with it by offering prizes that have nothing to do with clothing.
Is a large chunk of your audience working from home? Create care packages with coffee makers, a year’s supply of coffee, and ergonomic office equipment.
Is your audience the outdoorsy type? Let winners pick between hiking, fishing, or camping prize packages.
These types of prizes also give you an opportunity to partner with other brands (like coffee makers or outdoor supply stores) to share the contest and boost the reach of both pages. Win-win!
With in-person events still restricted across much of the world, clothing brands have to get creative with promoting their seasonal styles and digs.
Consider organising seasonal fashion shows just like you would for in-person events – but online.
Send out virtual invites and require RSVPs – whether free or paid depending on your brand.
Use interactive features to get your audience engaged like voting, quizzes, and surveys. You could even put creative spins on your fashion shows like work-from-home chic, Halloween costumes, and style contests. Think about what your audience would enjoy.
A whopping 71% of consumers say they’d rather spend money with brands who share their values, whatever those might be.
With so many people paying close attention to ethical production practices, labour practices, and sustainability, you have no room to neglect living up to your own values either.
Don’t wait for customers to investigate your values. Highlight them upfront and encourage others to get involved with social media content.
Most brands that operate in the United States have Stories highlights up on their pages encouraging customers to vote. This is a pretty safe bet because it doesn’t take a side in any election – just promotes voting.
Reebok’s heart-warming Story shares stories of people who can’t vote explaining why they would encourage others to do so:
Each social media platform is jam-packed with tools for creating engaging posts and reaching new audiences. One of the biggest mistakes brands make is neglecting these tools.
Social media is more than targeted advertising and posting. Stories, Reels, hashtags, messenger bots, shopping – these all exist for you to connect with people. Your job is the figure out which ones work best for your brand and audience then put them into action.