As the Internet penetrates deeper into the fashion realm, the impact of social media on the fashion industry swells unabated. There are several ways in which social media and blogging is influencing the fashion. For instance, it is helping set new trends that are highly favored by the customers.

At the same time, social media is cornering fashion moguls into greater accountability. A case in point is the digital audience holding H&M answerable for its monkey hoodie mishap. Likewise, social media is changing the traditional gatekeepers of the fashion world. Style bloggers are setting new milestones too. Moreover, social media has amped up the fashion business’s digital marketing game. Here is an in-depth look at how the social networks effect fashion.

The Impact of Social Media on the Fashion Industry

The key influential role played by the e-media extends to various branches. Here is an in-depth look at how the social networks influence the fashion realm:

  1. Changes in the traditional marketing techniques

Not long ago, fashion houses, just like any other businesses, arrested their customer’s attention by means of billboards and printed catalogs. Social media is, however, revolutionizing the traditional marketing literature and introducing digital marketing to the mix.

This helps to gather online customers. It’s no wonder that you can surf your favorite brand’s catalog on your Facebook feed. This is how social media is empowering fashion houses to reach more customers and potentially convert the leads into customers.

  1. Digital advertisements

Just as you can go through fashion catalogs on Facebook, you can also see ads popping up or playing by the side. This is another tool that the social media toolkit is facilitating fashion businesses with. YouTube has also recently joined the party with advertisements playing in the middle of video streaming.

There is a wide pool of audience that can be tapped online. As of January 2016, Facebook boasts 1.5 billion accounts with 900 million users of WhatsApp. There are approximately 185 million social media users as of 2016. This number is predicted to balloon to 200 million users by 2020. Tapping into this pool of media users is a significant gem facilitated to the fashion industry by digital networks.

  1. Changes in the dynamics of customer preference analysis

Initially, it took lots of surveys, questionnaires, and other quantitative and qualitative methods to establish if the customer’s liked one thing or disliked it enough to discontinue its production. Extensive studies of the sales record were other crucial steps. However, as users access their preference via social media, brands are better able to track customer preferences.

A leading champion in this field of digital data analysis is Lyst. The online fashion startup churns digital data every second to dig out customer likes and dislikes, the times they prefer to shop, factors that restrain their shopping, and a lot more. The head of brand and communications at Lyst, Joanna Christie, explained this. He said, “We have 3 million products on our site, 40 million annual shoppers, we generate hundreds of millions of dollars in sales but we don’t ever touch any products… We are a data company – we crunch 4.5 million data points every hour. That gives us a huge amount of insight.”

  1. Increases e-presence

There has also been a rise in online shopping, as part of the influence of technology on the fashion industry. A number of fashion stores have taken to the electronic platform and set up their e-stores that are doing wonders. This includes going from bricks and mortar structures to an online presence such as SmashBox and vice versa.

An example in the latter category is Frank And Oak, an apparel fashion brand that started its business as e-store in the men’s fashion category. It grew up to include women’s fashion and now, it has steadily increased the number of its physical stores from the initial bricks and clicks startup. In the cases of e-stores, social media marketing plays an all-important role in attracting customers. As in the example of Frank Body, a skincare products e-store. The $5000 coffee scrub start-up grew into a $20 million beauty brand with the backing of Instagram hashtags such as #befrank and succeeded remarkably.

  1. New style and trendsetters

Just as Instagram helped Frank Body pick up the pace in its progress, an essential role was also played by other online influencers. Jess Hatzis shared this in an interview. She remarked, “When we first launched we sent product to a whole bunch of people we thought were influential – makeup artists, beauty bloggers – but our most important and valuable ambassadors are our customers. We love to hero them as much as we can.”

The traditional gatekeepers of fashion are now changing and being replaced by social media influencers. Fashion, style, and makeup bloggers are playing a determining role in the way a collection is perceived and welcomed. In 2015, Neiman Marcus attributed bloggers and social media influencers with the blame of not covering their merchandise better. In fact, Neiman Marcus and Vogue blame claimed, “You are heralding the death of style.” This shows how social media is transforming the role of fashion gatekeepers.

  1. Helps maintain customers’ status

For every business, there is a single rule of thumb that needs to be borne in mind. It reads, “customer is king.” With the connectivity that it offers, social media is aiding in maintaining this status of the customer. For one, brands can come in direct contact with their audiences by means of social media, get their direct feedback, and also request for suggestions.

Secondly, with the introduction of chatbots that help with the social media accounts of fashion houses, brands are able to convert more leads into customers. In fact, the fashion industry can also influence their customer’s now with the help of media influencers. For example, Burberry chose David Beckham’s teenage son as their photographer over any other photographer. The reason is simple: he has 6 million Instagram followers.

  1. Influences choices

Hiring a person with a large influential force of followers to market fashion product is another essential blessing of the social media. It works because the customers let the influence sink in. Surveys have shown that several people take to their social networks to find out about the trends. A report shows that around 35% of the millennial American women hold social media as one of the top influencers while making their clothing purchases.

Fashion marketers are not foreign to this influence. Therefore, they report allocating between 30-75% of their marketing budget to influencer marketing. 53% revealed that “sizeable chunk” of their spending went into “social media community growth and engagement”.

  1. Decides what stays in trend

Social media has also empowered the audience. It is now able to narrate what constitutes a fashion faux pau and vice versa. Recently, not only was H&M held responsible for its act, as mentioned above, but ASOS has also come under the Twitter wrath for its bare butt jeans trend. Unfortunately, it is not one of those trends that are here to stay in 2018.

These examples show how the general populace is armed with the help of social media to decide if it likes something or not. In fact, the fashion industry has reached a point where social media decides the brand mentions. As per in Brandwatch’s report Social Insights on the Luxury Fashion Industry, Twitter generated 99.63% of luxury fashion brand talk.

  1. Social proofing

Social proofing or the social media influence is a crucial psychological influence in fashion marketing. But another vital factor that comes before a product is made and launched is whether it will be appreciated by the customers. Around 10% of all that is produced every season goes to waste as designs that don’t fall into the customer preferences and liking.

To this end, data analysis is helpful. Social proofing is another tool though. The fashion industry is treating social media as a tool to decide which designs should go into the bulk manufacturing. Crowdsourcing is one of the ways to get approval from customers to move ahead with a design. Although crowdsourcing is typically conducted on websites, social media serves as the vehicle to attract and engage customers. Thus, social media helps to potentially perk up the ROI (return on investment)

Take home message

In a nutshell, the impact of social media on the fashion industry is immense. Although this isn’t a bolt from the blue for any of us, as we are ourselves part and parcel of this social media and fashion package. It is, however, only in the present decade that research is backing the role played by social media. Statistics show that social proofing is real, as the impact of social media influencers is great.

Research also proves that social media is a great passage for connecting and engaging with the customers. It plays a key role in social media and digital marketing that taps more customers than ever before. Side by side, social media also helps to better learn customer preferences.