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Does paid social have a place in advertising for fashion brands?

June 21, 2021

Social media is an ever-growing environment, with users spending multiple hours a week on their social platforms. Each platform has its own distinct ‘personality’, meaning users are going there for a specific reason, whether they’re consciously aware of this or not.

Being inspired and sharing content is becoming increasingly popular – Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest being notable as platforms where influencers can make (or break) a brand’s reputation. While many industries see the benefit of products being featured on social media, the fashion industry in particular is thriving on influencers (and smaller users) showing their clothes in real, lifestyle settings.

But where can paid social advertising fit into this?

Whereas once upon a time paid social was seen as a small off shoot of PPC activity, the native feel of paid social ads, the audience targeting advertisers can access, and the readiness of an audience waiting to be inspired should be any advertiser’s dream. Therefore it’s crucial for fashion brands to have a paid presence on social media platforms, to enable them to reach new and inspired users, as well as engaging with their loyal consumers.

Audience

As a fashion brand looking to target specific audiences, you can hit the audiences you want to with near-perfect accuracy on paid social, whether that’s with prospecting or retargeting – reaching users at all phases of the funnel. You’re able to grow your existing customer base as well as engaging with those who have recently purchased to entice them with other products. Platform algorithms are sophisticated enough to automatically optimise towards users who are most likely to engage with content, and the visual nature of most social platforms gives brands a chance to engage with the brand’s culture and aesthetic.

Admittedly there’s a lot of recent changes coming from the new iOS update, whereby tracking may not be as precise as before, however platforms have put things in place to combat this and ensure they’re still useful places for brands to turn – such as the Conversion API for Facebook. Regardless of updates and changes, social media platforms will always be a great place to grow that initial awareness and nurture ongoing relationships with customers. It’s important to concentrate on inspiring users, as they may come back and convert through a different channel – like PPC.

If paid social wasn’t included within a fashion brand’s marketing mix, then that’s a huge audience that the brand is missing out on, and therefore missed potential. A full funnel approach is recommended – where you’ll hit users at each stage of their user journey – however it’s important to remember that at each stage users are doing different things;

  • Awareness is to maximise reach to enable you to grow your brand and connect with new and existing customers.
  • Consideration is where you’re touching on those in market to drive them to site and engage with content.
  • Convert is where you’ll primarily concentrate on retargeting – really pushing those lower funnel metrics to those that are interested.

Trends

It’s important for any brand to keep on top of trends, especially within paid social and absolutely within fashion! For example, clothes hauls are trending across multiple platforms at the moment, and brands are hopping on the chance to have a range of their clothes shown off within native content. Using trends helps to engage with users, as people will respond to content they can relate to and is familiar – seeing real people wearing brands they love, or even being introduced to new brands, gives them real-life examples of people wearing a brand’s clothes and therefore helps them visualise how they would look on themselves. With social media, brands are easily able to reach out to influencers, and this has proven to increase engagement rates – especially as users are seeing people they follow and trust wearing items of clothing.

Aligning with trends also grows brand presence, as a brand is able to hop on viral trends on the likes of TikTok. This will help keep users engaged with content and increases organic followers, which will help grow a lookalike audience to use for prospecting users. Though keeping in line with trends might be seen as an organic strategy, taking a strong example of a trend and promoting it as part of a paid campaign means you’re now serving an ad that users recognise, relate to, and actively enjoy.

Creatives

Perhaps even more so in paid social than on other channels, it’s key to keep content fresh for users to avoid ad fatigue and grow user engagement. Tapping into seasonal events keeps users interested in content and gives fashion brands the opportunity to show their products in relatable lifestyle settings. Most recently, we’ve seen Pride celebrated within June, and lots of brand have hopped on this trend and served tailored content around this.

Including any offers within your creatives will also help to drive engagement. It’s recommended to align with platform best practices and create bespoke content for each platform, as they each serve a different purpose (thinking back to how users visit each social channel for a specific reason). For instance, on TikTok it’s recommended to create native looking content, as this sits more naturally in a user’s feed and will help fashion brands showcase products seamlessly with other, similar content.

On Instagram, you’re able to utilise the IG Story poll option – this can be a great way to increase engagement whilst also learning what users prefer. For instance, a fashion brand could include two different colours of the same item of clothing and see which one users prefer – it’s an opportunity to make their brand interactive, and also provides valuable data on customer preferences!

Videos are key – especially those that include full imagery of the products. Include those 360 turns, and have models/influencers walking in the clothing to bring your products to life. Give the user a strong experience to really immerse themselves within the clothing/accessory. You can then utilise video retargeting within your marketing funnel on each social platform.

However, as with any content creation strategy, statistics are still just as important as creative, so it’s key to not forget about these. You should be reviewing, analysing, and combing through your data to see what content works for your brand on each individual platform, to help inform your content strategy moving forwards. For example, flatlays can work well on the likes of Instagram and Pinterest while not necessarily being strong elsewhere. When trying new techniques, this is a good time to test what users engage most with and utilise test and learn approaches.

Grow your presence

Any fashion brand that is successfully using social media to grow their image will be using both organic and paid approaches. It’s important that these both have a strong presence within your marketing strategy. If someone engages with an ad, and then clicks on the profile to discover move it’s esential that the brand presence is there to really immerse and engage the user. Social users are unlikely to convert on the back of one sponsored post and, if you direct them to a weak profile when compared to your paid creative, the image you’ve tried to build through your paid social strategy will be weakened, if not gone completely.

Sticking to best practices and having strong creatives which are refreshed regularly will really help with this. We’ve already mentioned influencers, but it’s key for a brand to think about any promos/competitions – brand ambassadors are also a great way to grow presence for a smaller fashion brand and get hold of that all-important lifestyle content. It’s all about putting the consumer first and thinking about what they’d like to see.

Paid Social for Fashion Brands

From audiences to creatives, social media platforms can really help leverage a fashion brand’s online presence but must be used right to maximise their impact. As a wholly visual format, it’s so important to include paid advertising on social media into your marketing mix to ensure your brand is being seen. It’s also vital that the brand doesn’t solely concentrate on ROI, as some of the upper funnel campaigns won’t be concentrating on this metric and should, instead, be focused on putting the groundwork in to create a readily engaged audience. When it comes to fashion, it’s critical for brands to grow presence, awareness, and elevate their image – and for that, there’s nothing like paid social.

Amy Cox is a paid social specialist for ClickThrough Marketing, working across all social platforms to build digital growth for brands in the fashion, interiors, B2B, Healthcare and property. Prior to this, Cox worked at iProspect, managing paid social activity for brands such as Debenhams, British Airways, and Santander.

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