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Instagram picks up in the region

Ostersund, Sweden - August 3, 2014: Close up of instagram websit


Social media is vital for the luxury industry; brands, today, simply cannot afford to not be present on major networks.

The online platform allows the customer a deeper understanding of the brand. Once a customer is able to understand and relate to a brand, they are more confident to make the transaction and even become a loyal consumer.

While heritage brands, such as Hermès and Karl Lagerfeld, felt unsure about social media at first, believing that it would de-value their names, the platform has now become commonplace in the luxury industry, according to Sharon Hughes, a professor at London College of Fashion, with Marc Jacobs paving the social media way for luxury brands.

“People turn to social media for inspiration, outfit ideas and to determine how to buy,” explains Hughes, during a talk at Fashion Forward (FFWD) earlier this week. “When brands finally realised this, it became the place to be.”

Although many may not pay too much attention to social media platforms besides Facebook and Twitter, others such as Instagram, Vine and Keek have all created large followings in the fashion world – with Keek even being used by fashion weeks this year.

“A product’s life does not end when it leaves the store, it starts its second life and we want to hear about its story on social media,” explains May Barber, co-founder and founding director of Cartel retail shop in Dubai, during a discussion at FFWD. “What is most important is to build up a two-way, long-term sustainable relationship with your customer to make them feel as though they are part of the store/brand.”

The interactive platforms have allowed luxury brands to not only increase their following, but also alter their brand images and better relate to their customers.

“People go on social media because they want that personal approach, a better insight into a brand or personality, rather than just having advertisements reposted and your products just placed there,” explains Zahra Lyla Pedram, founding director of fashion blog, Lyla Loves Fashion. “What is nice about social media is that you get that glimpse inside, which you would not normally get as a consumer.”

“One of the things that we have to remember is that whenever you use any sort of tool out there today, determine how to grow and innovate by attracting new customers,” commented Hughes during the talk. “The biggest mistake that we have been making is that we are trying to use Facebook to acquire customers. Although the majority of your customers may be on Facebook, they are not there to buy. We are currently using the wrong media.”

Instagram has proven to be a good tool for luxury brands online, with 93 per cent of prestige brands now maintaining a presence on the platform, an increase from 63 per cent in July 2013, according to business intelligence service L2’s intelligence report on Instagram. A brand is able to not only relate to its customer, posting day-to-day images, but they are also able to interact with their consumers in a relaxed setting.

With the social media platform registering 15 times the engagement and double the engaged user base than Facebook, according to L2, Instagram has become one of the most popular channels for brands and customers to connect to one another.

“Everyone knows about Instagram” stated Hughes, during the talk. The popular social media player not only allows its users to post pictures, but also videos. “Instagram seems to be picking up very heavily in the region, along with WhatsApp. It has a phenomenal growth,” explains Hughes, during the talk.

“I think that Instagram has its positives. A picture is worth 1,000 words, so it is a great medium to use,” explains Barber. “People like to see the personality behind the brand or person/blogger, they like to understand what they are like, their style, what they eat and so on.”

Although Instagram may not have the best video settings, only allowing five to six seconds of video time for each post, when compared with 36 seconds on well-known video site Keek, it is still an extremely strong platform for brands, with 63 per cent of prestige brands linking their instagram account to their brand’s website, according to L2’s report.

“Most brands do not use Instagram to its fullest potential,” explains Hughes during the talk. The platform still needs a few details to be added to become more brand-friendly, such as linking to websites, but, so far, it has created a true buzz.

“If there was linking on Instagram, where brands could link to where customers could purchase garments, that would be an extremely helpful thing for a blogger,” concluded Pedram.

Although the popularity of social media channels changes on a regular basis, luxury brands are offered a wide range of opportunities through the online platform, allowing them to improve their customer relationship and following.


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