Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fashion, Bow Down to Your Social Media Savior: 3 Ways to Pique Brand Interest with Pinterest

By Martha Dominique Sojka
Any designer worthy of an atelier on Avenue Montaigne will tell you that fashion is meant to be an experience. And ideally, it’s an experience that makes consumers feel so trendy, sophisticated, and confident that they’re compelled to come back, time and time again. It’s all about creating the experience; it’s all about delivering on that lifestyle.

Admittedly, it’s hard to replicate those experiences and lifestyles online, and so it’s no surprise that the fashion industry has been slow to adapt social media into its marketing strategies. Traditional social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook transform the vivid, visually-laden fashion landscape into little more than words and tiny, static banner ads. Where’s the imagery, where’s the color? Where’s the experience?

How can fashion reap the benefits of social media, when the existing platforms take the very heart and soul out of it?

Fashion, your social media savior has arrived. Say hello to Pinterest.

Tailored to the Industry
 What makes Pinterest so lucrative for fashion? Its very nature plays to two key strengths of the industry: it’s visual and it’s social. In fashion, a picture can tell the whole story. And Pinterest affords fashion brands the ability to propel their stories in a way that is engaging, personal, and far-reaching.

It boils down to one thing: Pinterest is a huge referrer of web traffic. So huge, in fact, that it has recently become the top traffic driver for retailers, beating out Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Because a link is always attached to a pinned image, users are clicking on these links and visiting company websites and blogs. And this translates into increased engagement, visibility, and sales.
As Johanna Murphy, VP/Ecommerce for Kate Spade puts it, “Pinterest is kind of the fuel for the overall fire to the brand that will ultimately drive sales”.

The Wall Street Journal seems to agree. The publisher’s recent foray into Pinterest centered on creating a New York Fashion Week pin board as a means to increase engagement with existing customers as well as potential new ones, and "[reach] readers in a different environment and bring them back to [the] site”. Read: an increased and engaging web presence can go a long way. 

Time (and Presence) is of the Essence                                                                                Don’t delay with getting your brand on Pinterest. The fashion brands that will reap the greatest benefits are those that will establish their presence the quickest. As with any social media tool, if brands are not there when the site is first gaining traction then any future endeavor ends up feeling like a corporate intrusion into a personal space. To be authentic and influential, brands need to find a role for themselves on Pinterest early on in the game. 

Disclaimer: This does not mean setting up a brand pin board, slapping on your products, and waiting for the traffic to pour in. Sure, you’ll get some activity; however, getting that coveted customer engagement and influential WOM takes more than simply replicating your spring catalog and calling it a day.

Below are three ways to up the ante on your Pinterest presence and use the social media tool to skyrocket consumer engagement levels and website traffic:

1. Concentrate on the lifestyle, not the product: Says Murphy of her Pinterest philosophy, “[Pinterest communicates] our brand: who we are, what we believe in…if you go there and start just pinning your own stuff, without having the mood, the spirit of the community, you’ll turn people off”. Remember this—you’re not blatantly advertising products, you’re selling a lifestyle. Your Pinterest page should put your brand’s lifestyle on display in a way that’s beautiful, organized, and social. In addition to products, pin to music, moods, and thoughts that inspire you and your target audience. Check out ban.do, Lilly Pulitzer, and Barney’s New York—they’re doing it right. 

2. Get creative with contests: Contests are great ways to motivate and engage your customers and followers. Have customers curate boards featuring your products on their personal accounts, or launch a contest board on your own account and ask customers to pin specific types of items. Take inspiration from Ann Taylor’s Heart Fashion and Guess’ Color Me Inspired contests and get creative with themes. Offer prizes to the individual that creates the best board and/or the person whose pin receives the most action (this will encourage them to spread the word about their own pin, giving the contest greater reach).

3. Offer special ‘Members Only’ deals to spur loyalty: Have a "Pinterest Exclusive" board featuring hand picked products from your website that will be discounted at checkout using a special code (i.e. “PinterestDeal”). Put the price in the pin description box to generate the price ribbon. This will garner attention to that specific board and allow users to quickly recognize the products as featured and/or on sale.

So, is your brand ready to start pinning? It better be. Pinterest is the new trend on the block, and as we all know, in fashion it really doesn’t pay to ignore the next big thing.

Martha Sojka is a graduate student in the Northwestern Medill IMC marketing program specializing in branding, analytics, and digital marketing. Her focus is on the fashion, beauty, and lifestyle industries. She is set to graduate in December 2012. Martha can be reached on twitter using the handle @MarthaDomiSojka

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