Rapid upgradation in social media marketing and introduction of saturated micro-communities have opened the dimensions for fashion retailers. Much of the need is attributed to increased loneliness amongst youngsters in times of COVID-19 outspread. Retailers can be benefited at this time by reaching out to people through smaller communities, a new trend that is collaborating bloggers and influencers for better impact.
Cutting through the noise of social media advertisements is the biggest challenge for any ambitious business these days. Social media, as the name suggests, is a hub for people sharing similar traits to connect and discuss irrespective of the geographical distance. Such gatherings form small communities of users who share common interests, and some niche characteristics. Mark Zuckerberg, the Founder of Facebook in 2018, heralded the need to shift the focus towards ‘Meaningful social interactions’, pointing to the micro-communities across the social media platform. In the subsequent year, Zuckerberg mentioned “groups are now at heart of the experience” in the F8 conference. Apart from Facebook, today there are several untapped platforms that house highly saturated gatherings. Let us have a glance at how these interactions can be turned by businesses in their favour.
Influencer marketing – the secret spice
Recent years have seen an explosion in the number of home-grown social media celebrity figures, or the influencers. With a widespread reach, influencers hold the strength of micro-communities that can boost your brand’s awareness, as well as ruin it in no time. Spotting the importance of influencer marketing, Amazon ensures its massive outreach keeps expanding like the universe. With its multifarious programmes started from 2017, Amazon provides a platform to influencers themselves, where they can make money out of the products they recommend.
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Through social media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, influencers can apply and join the ‘Amazon Influencer Program’ an extension of Amazon Associates Program. Such influencer groups include Mark Cuban, Felicia Day and What’s Up Mom’s. Similarly, the India fashion e-commerce giant Myntra launched its influencer marketing programme that attracted a rush of social media celebrities from the country.
According to a survey performed on proportionately 1,000 people by Zak, a creative agency, nearly 67 per cent said they find content received through messages instead of those on blogs, feeds or open platforms. Also, most of the people surveyed said they prefer to chat in custom groups as they can share their thoughts more openly.
70 per cent of millennial consumers are influenced by the recommendations of their peers in buying decisions. A survey by Collective Bias, on US-based participants, revealed that out of total 14,000 millennials studied, almost 70 per cent are influenced by micro-communities and influencers. Also, around 30 per cent of consumers were found not impressed by celebrity influencers.
Niche social media and active groups
There are hundreds of groups on social media platforms, from Facebook to Telegram, where smaller groups of people share content, pictures, campaigns and what not. More often than not, these groups need funds for their campaigns and activities, which makes it a win-win situation for brands as well as the people. Businesses use this opportunity to sponsor the hot social activities, and in the process grab the hearts of their customers to boost the brand awareness. A LinkedIn group by WE ARE GOLF provides a hub for insights, articles and campaigns, about US golf industry that accounts for about US $ 84.1 billion.
“Everything has become centralised because that’s where people want to put their money, but there is certainly a movement for the decentralisation of data,” says Kevin Brown, Founder and CEO of GigRev, a social networking enterprise that provides platform to connect with micro-communities with free as well as premium content. Quality has always been prioritised over quantity, and hence the brands like APL, Tarte Cosmetics, Coach and Beautycon have realised the potential of private messaging to individual groups which are saturated with potential customers.
Secondary social media accounts
Ludovic de Saint Sernin, the France-based designer operates the official handle on Instagram @ludovicdesaintsernin, along with a secondary account @ludovicdesaintserninx with about 43,000 followers. As global fashion brands are tapping into the micro-communities by using influencers and trends, a major portion of the marketing is looking towards secondary social media accounts as a key to open the door of opportunities. To make their customer relationships steadfast, these brands add influencers and followers into ‘close friend’ lists. These accounts can be used to penetrate into the smaller groups which lean around similar tastes.
Private communities offer a genuine feedback
A public forum for asking feedbacks can involve bias in genuine reports. Thus, private communication through backstage messaging with micro-communities proves to be a better solution. Glow Recipe started its first-ever online sampling and feedback campaign in April 2020 for its private community, with live consultations on various social media platforms and masterclasses on beauty. Sarah Lee, Co-CEO of Glow Recipe remarks on the micro-community of the brand’s members as ‘an incredibly valuable source’ for insights on new products and ingredients. Lee says that feedback received on social media has been crucial for product development of the company.
TJ Keitt, Head Analyst, Customer Experience, Forrester says “There’s a large gap between customers that are highly devoted and everybody else, which suggests that what has happened in these sectors is that brands have over-prioritised customers who they sense are more devoted to them. This creates conditions in which other customers, who could be just as valuable, feel alienated.” To some extent, experts account this change in marketing strategies to increasing levels of depression and loneliness especially amongst urban dwelling youth population. As per survey reports mentioned by Vogue, 47 per cent of adult US residents said they experienced loneliness more than usual, exaggerated by lockdown due to COVID-19 outbreak. In the words of Jared Watson, “This loneliness paradox gives brands an opportunity to develop extreme brand loyalty by being a resource for their fans to connect, either with the brand itself or with other fans.” A brand that is successful in fostering customer emotions with itself, can ensure positive consumer sentiment that ultimately leads to customer loyalty.