Join the social media wave – or sink

- - Fashion Business

With the Met Ball just around the corner celebrating the Costume Institute’s Spring 2016 Exhibition, Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, we anxiously anticipate what fashion’s biggest players will be wearing. But this year, consider how you will view who is wearing who. Will it be via Instagram? Twitter? Snapchat? Recently, how consumers consume their information has been on the tip of the fashion industry’s tongue and certainly the top of its mind. Fashion publications have gone out of print, and even online reporting has had to revamp.

When we think of the Met Ball, we can’t help but think of Anna Wintour, and when we think of Anna Wintour, images of Vogue instantly come to mind. Condé Nast is a good example of a company that has needed to adjust its strategy in order to accommodate the changing social media landscape in fashion. Just last year, Condé Nast shuttered both Lucky and Details magazines in addition to its online platform Style.com. The publishing house decided to focus on its most valuable brands, and Vogue topped the list.

Even though Vogue made Condé Nast’s “keep” list, big changes are on the horizon – recognizing the importance of maintaining Vogue’s brand DNA, while also acknowledging and capitalizing on the reality of readership. In a recent article in Business of Fashion, it was reported that Vogue.com had 5.3 million US users in February 2016. While on social media, Vogue has 9.8 million followers on Instagram and 7.4 million likes on Facebook. This social media following in large part drives readership to the website. It was reported in March that about 33 percent of Vogue.com’s web traffic came from Vogue’s more than 40 million followers across social all platforms. There’s no denying the power of social media and more specifically, the power of mobile apps – have you seen the latest statistics on how many consumers are using apps? Worth a look.

So how can you take this shift in

information gathering and processing

and make it work for your budding label?

The first step has been taken care of if you have been reading closely. Acknowledge that in today’s economy, consumers are digesting information differently. As a young brand, use your advertising/marketing dollars wisely and put them toward the platforms where your demographic is looking. Yes, it might be enticing to build a beautiful website, but if the majority of your customers are spending time on Snapchat, so should you.

Next, be prepared to bend and sway. Most likely, over the course of your lifetime you’ve watched the rise in popularity of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – remember when Vine had a moment? Today’s Snapchat will be tomorrow’s next social media experiment. Hanging on too tightly to a platform that you are comfortable with may inhibit your future success.

Do your research. It doesn’t hurt to take a class in developing an effective social media strategy, or at the very least read the latest statistics about your demographic and how they are receiving information. Did you know that some companies are replacing their homepage with a link to their social media platforms? Get this!

Finally, remember your brand’s DNA. In other words, no matter which social media platform you are using, keep in mind your customers are coming to you for a certain aesthetic and experience, no matter what route they take to get to you.

As a timely case study, take a look at the changes Vogue plans on making this year centered around the worldwide-watched Met Gala. We will be watching. Will you? And more importantly, how will you be watching? Leave your comments below.

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Kara Laricks is a regular contributor to the University of Fashion. She’s also a New York based women's wear and accessories designer. As the first winner of NBC's Fashion Star, Kara has designed collections for H&M, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue. Her masculine meets feminine line, Kara Laricks, debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2012 and her S/S 2013 collection sold exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue. Kara's designs have been featured on the Today Show and HBO's True Blood as well as covered in Women's Wear Daily and on Style.com. Kara holds Master's degrees in both Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Kansas and in Fashion Design from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. An educator turned designer, Kara is dedicated to supporting emerging designers and inspiring others to follow where dreams lead.