Fashion is one of the biggest industry niches on Instagram, with every fashion-related post receiving on average 16,616 likes. Over a third of Instagram users will buy a piece of clothing they saw on the social network, so we can deliberately say that the platform has established itself as a ‘place to be’ for fashion-powered brands. However, the question remains how can small, startup fashion businesses get on top of huge retail behemoths and increase their brand awareness in unyielding competition?
Research your hashtags
Even though hashtags have been around for a little more than a decade, they’ve become the ultimate search tools used by people to find photos with a similar theme. However, although hashtags like #love and #life have virtually billions of posts tagged, the trick is to use focused, long-tail hashtags that won’t make your photo just a drop in the ocean. For example, #streetfashion has over a million photos tagged, but #streetfashiongirl has much less – still enough to get noticed, but, not too many to get lost. You should approach the hashtag the same way you’d optimize your website content for SEO – long-tail, low competition.
Make your pictures perfect
Instagram is ruled by beautiful photos, so even if you’re not selling fashion, you’re expected to produce quality visual content. But how good is good enough? First, your pictures must be high resolution. Despite filter and editing tools, no phone camera can beat a good DSLR so learn to use one. Also, photos must be able to tell a story in order to max out its engagements. For example, a picture of a woman carrying a bag doesn’t say anything, but a woman reaching into her bag for a quick make-up fix already tells a little something. Finally, your pictures need to fit into the overall theme of your profile outfit, which means they must be edited in the same way.
Promote your Instagram everywhere
As a startup fashion brand, you may need a little help to raise awareness and boost visibility. Instagram Ads are already here and over 2 million advertisers use them successfully because they are non-intrusive (they appear organically). They can also provide specific targeting and promise a decent ROI. However, ads aren’t the only way to promote your fledgling account. Make sure your Instagram has a shortcut on other social networks you use, ask your friends to follow your account, and repost your Instagram stories to your Facebook page.
Go behind the scenes
Although your Instagram feed should appear seamless, don’t be afraid to show how the sausage is made. Use Stories to tell your story – these only last for 24 hours, so their visual aspect shouldn’t bother you too much – it’s much more important to share different ‘behind the scenes’ moments. Another way to do it is to create an infographic that tells your story in a visually-interesting format. The fashion system is an immense, articulated, oftentimes unpredictable territory, where a good sense for the classics succeeds to find the common ground with the extremes of experimentation, as explained by the people behind a new Bachelor of Arts degree in fashion design.
Influencers are important on Instagram, and not even top brands want to lose on the opportunity to hire influencers to promote their product lines. As you’d do with hashtags, make sure that the influencer you choose is relevant to your brand. Secondly, your goal shouldn’t be to accumulate followers but work on quality engagements. The only way to tell if the influencer is worth their salt is to look at their engagement rate. Still, keep in mind that engagement is now easy to fake as well. Perhaps the only way to identify a successful influencer is to go through the comments they receive from their followers.
Engage with your potential customers
When your photography is brilliant and your hashtags optimized to the max, you need to start engaging people that use the same hashtags. Like their posts, leave comments on their pictures, and ask for permission to repost if they feature your product or can otherwise contribute to your feed. Give them more publicity by tagging them and showing how you appreciate them being part of your community. All these actions lead to building a base of loyal followers who might become potential customers and ambassadors of your new brand.
Create a shoppable feed
When you have a beautiful brick-and-mortar store with a magnificent window looking on a busy street, not even the great lighting, intriguing arrangements and great compositions are worth much if the window attracts a lot of curious glances that in the end just pass by without going in. In many ways, Instagram is just like that beautiful store window. Unless you give people a direct opportunity to shop, they’ll move along. Either create a CTA (call-to-action) by adding clickable links to your ‘about me’ section, which channels visitors straight to your website, or let followers purchase directly from the feed.
Have your marketing strategy locked and loaded
It’s important to create a solid Instagram marketing strategy even before you start posting. Ask yourself if there’s enough content to last for at least a month? Can you offer your followers a broad variety of content, so you see what works the best? How frequently are you going to be posting? Have you decided on the essential Instagram KPIs that will help you measure your performance? If our Instagram efforts are showing sufficient returns, it might be because you have no strategy. When you tap into the unfathomable possibilities of Instagram marketing, you better know how things work and understand what it takes to get to the top.
The Instagram fashion coastline is crowded to the point that, although you can theoretically get your message seen by a large number of people, the much bigger concern is how to make your brand stand out in the sea of others. Your strategy needs to include a multi-pronged approach that relies not only on engaging visual content but also, harnessing the potential of hashtags and user-generated content.