L’Oréal has unveiled an AI-enabled digital skin diagnosis tool that uses selfies to assess the user’s skin in order to make skincare recommendations tailored to the individual.
The Skinconsult tool deploys AI technology developed by virtual try-on beauty company Modiface combined with L’Oréal’s own research, which includes 6,000 clinical images of men and women across countries such as France, India and China, as well as 4,000 user selfies in different lighting conditions.
“Our mission is beauty for all,” said Lubomira Rochet, chief digital director of the French group, speaking at a press conference for WWD. Rochet added that she believes services will be the new way for users to discover their brands and products, and that this particular system is promoting the “democratization” of skin diagnosis, since all a potential user needs is a smartphone to snap a selfie.
To use the tool, the customer must upload a selfie onto a website, which is then analyzed in terms of areas of strength and improvement using seven different aging variables: under-eye wrinkles, lack of firmness, fine lines, lack of radiance, dark spots, deep wrinkles and pores. The result is a bespoke skincare regime that aims to meet their individual needs.
According to the group’s executives, a typical analysis under this system resulted in the same skin diagnosis as an average of 12 dermatologists. The bespoke result, however, still encourages users to see a specialist regularly.
The new tool was first introduced in January in Canada under L’Oréal’s Vichy brand, and there are plans to further expand it across the brand’s websites worldwide in the future.
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CES might have been heavily about automated vehicles and voice technology, but beauty also played a big role in 2018. From skin analysis gadgets to smart mirrors and even a miniature custom laboratory, here is our pick of the best new tech straight from Las Vegas. Note the key theme of personalization throughout.
Neutrogena unveiled a device called SkinScanner – a small gadget that attaches to your iPhone and uses sensors to analyse your skin. All users do is press it right onto their faces to capture a series of images. In an app called Skin360, they are then able to see the health of their skin over time, analyzing moisture levels, wrinkles, and pore size.
Created with a New York-based company called Fitskin, the device uses 12 LED lights and a 30x magnification lens to capture incredibly close-up images. The app meanwhile uses machine learning to compare skin health with others in the same age range. For poor skin health, users are directed to the Neutrogena store.
L’Oréal’s UV Sense
L’Oréal unveiled a battery-free wearable electronic that provides consumers with individual information of their ultraviolet (UV) exposure through a small design worn on the nail. UV Sense, as it’s called, will launch for dermatological skincare brand La Roche-Posay this summer.
The launch follows the first stretchable skin sensor measuring UV exposure from the group unveiled at CES in 2016, called My UV Patch. This new one is less than two millimeters thick, nine millimeters in diameter and designed to be worn for up to two weeks on the thumbnail. It can also store up to three months of data.
Swedish brand Foreo launched its UFO smart mask, an at-home treatment device combining LED light therapy with cryo-therapy, thermo-therapy and T-Sonic pulsations, all activated via your smartphone in 90-seconds. This comes off the back of “face masks”being the number one searched term within the beauty category on Google in 2017.
Beauty tech brand HiMirror released its voice-interactive smart mirror, for which it was named a CES 2018 Innovation Awards Honoree. The HiMirror Mini offers in-depth, personalized skincare analysis based on the evolving conditions of the skin, local weather conditions and more. As with the Neutrogena SkinScanner, it records the user’s skin overtime, tracking goals and the results of products used.
It is equipped with Amazon Alexa-enabled features, as well as facial and voice recognition account access. It even reminds users of product expirations and features an entertainment center consisting of current news stories, music, ambient make-up lighting, video tutorials and a virtual make-up feature. It will be available in the US in late summer 2018.
Kohler’s Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror
Another voice-activated mirror came from Kohler. The Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror, which retails for $999, is equipped with Amazon Alexa to allow users to control light setting to give them a better make-up application or grooming experience. In fact, you get all of the functionality of Alexa, including weather updates, shopping, playing music, receiving traffic alerts and more.
The device also works as a motion-activated night light, meaning it automatically brightens to a comfortable level for hand washing.
Romy Paris’ Miniaturized Laboratory
Romy Paris introduced a “miniaturized laboratory” that creates a personalized skincare serum for users every day. The cosmetic formulator uses technology similar to the cold exaction used in a juicer, reportedly, to create the right combination of ingredients for your skin.
A beauty coaching app meanwhile takes the users’ environment, activities and sleep habits into consideration. The idea is that just as you don’t eat the same food every day, your skin needs different nutrients dependent to best suit its condition and surrounds. A multi-user mode makes the $800 device able to create custom serums for different people in the household.
Schwarzkopf Professional SalonLab Analyzer
Schwarzkopf launched a handheld device that measures hair condition as well as hair color to provide hyper-personalized recommendations on products and services.
The SalonLab Analyzer uses near infrared spectroscopy and a multi-channel color scanner to read the hair. The system is also accompanied by an augmented reality app that enables users to then try on different hair colors.
Data has a bigger role to play than the industry is yet paying attention to, writes Glenn Ebert of SapientRazorfish, pushing for a customer-first mentality from retailers.
Judging from the nonstop chatter in the trenches of nearly every digital conference and forum this year so far, much of the industry buzz stems from the potential posed by artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR), and how big brands will leverage this next frontier of tech.
As the halfway mark of 2017 has now arrived, the fact is the world of fashion and retail still remains an incredibly fragmented, chaotic and fatigued place. While new technologies present an exciting opportunity, the retail industry (especially luxury brands) appear to be even further away from being able to engage these experiential trends, as many still can’t grasp the new fundamentals needed to survive. This is especially apparent when compared to more savvy competitors and entrant disruptors.
After all, many brands are still struggling to find effective, efficient models to overhaul subpar customer experiences and meet the needs of a more demanding and discerning digital consumer. As the retail industry continues to burn and more brick-and-mortar stores shutter, very few retailers have mastered the art of using a data-driven approach to give customers products and experiences they actually want to see.
The fact remains most of what’s currently being created in the fashion tech space is still not wearable, functional, scalable, or even applicable to the day-to-day lives of the modern shopper.
While embedded virtual reality, fitness trackers and Facebook ‘like’ sensors are pretty interesting, are they really what the customer wants? The gap in appetite and comprehension for adaption and innovation is far wider than many fashion companies are aware of; especially when compared to alignment of enthusiasm and cohesion seen in other industries.
One of the biggest voids is in how to use data and insights to provide customers with relevant in-store and online experiences. This is especially true for many luxury brands, which have been stiff and cumbersome in changing how they position and deliver their products and experiences to a younger, millennial consumer.
There’s a need therefore to step back and learn from the brands that are getting this right. Take a look at Amazon’s recent $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods, for instance, which enabled it to combine data it already collects from existing platforms with Whole Foods’ customer transaction data, to create an individually tailored customer experience.
Nordstrom seems to be the biggest bright spot in the industry to crack this code otherwise. Using an effective mix of revamped eCRM-minded digital touchpoints, social media and e-commerce data, and improved in-store technology to make the customer to salesperson experience more efficient, the once in-danger “mall brand” has rebounded to the tune of 50% revenue growth over the past five years.
Luxury e-commerce juggernaut Farfetch meanwhile, added to its list of headline grabbing moments when it announced its Store of the Future back in April. Building on its purchase of London-based department store Brown’s in 2015, the retail space aims to “link the online and offline worlds, using data to enhance the retail experience”, as quoted by CEO Jose Neves.
Using everything from RFID-enabled shopping racks, augmented reality mirrors and dressing rooms, and a full integration of the shopper’s mobile app to enhance the salesperson experience, the move is bold to say the least. While it’s one of the most literal, advantageous examples of putting data at the heart of the retail experience, only time will tell if it will translate to foot traffic.
In summary, as exciting as it may be to usher in the era of the virtual cashmere sweater, there are still many areas retailers should be focusing on first; specifically, better leveraging and integrating data and insights to optimise the customer experience for a new generation of consumers. Furthermore, we should be using such insights to validate whether consumers actually want these types of products, experiences or innovations in the first place.
Couple that with persistently stagnant user growth, and it raises a real question mark over Twitter’s future. So what do fashion brands need to know in terms of whether they should or shouldn’t invest time and money in the platform in 2017?
Although phenomenally successful over the past decade, in recent years Twitter has fallen behind its peers. The main issue is flat user growth, which impacts negatively on revenue.
On average, Twitter had 317 million monthly active users in Q3 2016, up 3% year-on-year. This compares to Facebook’s 1.79 billion, up 16% yoy and Instagram’s 600 million, which is double that of 2014. Snapchat doesn’t disclose monthly figures, suggesting that its engagement is so high it prefers to talk about dailies. It has a reported 150 million daily active users, compared to Twitter’s estimated 136 million.
In terms of revenue, Twitter is therefore finding it particularly difficult to attract brand marketers to advertise on a platform with restricted growth (albeit its advertising revenue was up 6% year-on-year in Q3 2016). What’s perhaps more troubling for the long run in that vein, however, is a potential shift in the way the platform is used.
First for news?
Twitter has long been considered the go-to platform for breaking news – often reporting on stories ahead of mainstream media channels. One in five PR disasters even break on Twitter, according to marketing tool, Year Ahead. And Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey’s focus is indeed reportedly on the social media app as a global information news network.
As social media expert, Karinna Nobbs, explains: “Many customers use Twitter as a news platform, so with the right analytics, if it is right for your target, you should be on it.” She also suggests that fashion brands use Twitter for building relationships with journalists and publishers.
Yet, according to Paul Berry, founder and CEO of RebelMouse, even publishers are moving slowly away from the platform. He told Digiday: “Five, 10 years ago, there was a lot of emphasis on building Twitter followings, traffic. For new media companies, Twitter is the afterthought and the side job. It used to be one person on Facebook, one person on Twitter, and now it’s three people on Facebook and half a person on Twitter.”
Further stats from the same Digiday piece show that 59% of Twitter users do indeed get news on the service, third after Reddit and Facebook. But only 16% of adults in the US use Twitter in the first place, and only 9% of adults get news there. That compares to Facebook being used by 67% of U.S. adults, with 44% of US adults getting news there, according to Pew Research Center.
Twitter has been introducing new features in a bid to combat this, and both grow and retain engaged users. Included is its livestreaming service Periscope, and “Twitter Moments”, its storytelling feature enabling users to gather (and consume) tweets under themes, or indeed news stories. In truth, however, they still haven’t made much of an impact, while Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat continue to storm ahead – especially with live video.
Within the fashion industry specifically, there is reasonable usage of the platform nonetheless, especially during fashion weeks – arguably the industry’s most newsworthy occasions. 503,404 Tweets were tagged #LFW for spring/summer 2016, according to the British Fashion Council. But engagement is significantly higher on Instagram. For spring/summer 2017, Burberry for instance received 415,300 likes on Instagram compared to 28,750 likes and retweets on Twitter, according to Stylight. That trend continues for most other designers.
Speaking anonymously, one industry insider said: “Twitter has become the last, and at best the fourth social media channel I think about when thinking about our communications strategy [behind Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat]. I would argue Pinterest… and possibly even LinkedIn are more relevant to fashion and e-commerce today.”
Of course some fashion brands haven’t ever used Twitter at all. Christopher Kane for instance hasn’t posted a single tweet (though its reserved account has approximately 4,500 organic followers). By comparison the brand’s Instagram account has 226k followers with over 1,350 posts.
The fact is, the internet has shifted from being a text-based entity, to a visual and video one. While Twitter has attempted to keep up with this movement, for fashion brands particularly, other platforms have become more appealing and perceivably more suitable.
Another anonymous source explains: “Fashion brands have always thought visual-first, they were just previously restricted by what the social media channels enabled. When Instagram took off, they suddenly got their version of digital beauty – something that was in keeping with the aesthetic they were trying to portray and at huge scale. They’ve grown fast on that platform and engagement remains high, albeit with its own algorithmic challenges. The new flurry of live video options – on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat – all give them new means to provide insights, news and updates from the brand too, and importantly in quite a ‘cool’ way. It’s entirely possible they just don’t need Twitter anymore.”
That’s not to say everyone feels that way of course. One example of a brand that makes the best of what Twitter has to offer is Belstaff. Its global marketing manager, Melina Fenby, explains the brand’s current strategy includes using Twitter as “our news, events and information hub to grow brand loyalty”. She says the team uses Twitter for influencer engagement (motorsport and adventure figures resonate well with the Belstaff community) and event/PR activity (the Goodwood Festival of Speed content was particularly popular).
Outlining Belstaff’s Twitter strategy going forward, Fenby added: “The real focus for us is to generate meaningful engagement with our existing fans and relevant micro-communities.”
Championing customer service
Unsurprisingly where Twitter does otherwise resonate for retail fashion brands particularly is in the realm of customer service.
ASOS for instance has a dedicated Twitter account specifically for queries. @ASOS_Heretohelp is among the top 10% of help handles with an average response time of five minutes. It has over 180,000 followers of its own, against the main @ASOS account’s 1.01 million.
Others including Nike, Jack Threads and Lululemon are incredibly strong from a customer service perspective on the channel too. Overall, two-thirds of brands tracked by L2 use their Twitter accounts for customer service.
While the average fashion brand communicates with just 64 customers per month via Twitter posts, according to L2, Lululemon addresses the concerns of more than 900 customers each month and even provides personalised product recommendations. Other stand out accounts include Macy’s and Marks & Spencer, which both receive more than 10,000 Twitter mentions and communicate with more than 800 customers each month.
When customers are taking this route, they expect brands to respond quickly to mentions and queries, more so than anywhere else. This fits with the fact cloud-based social customer service provider, Conversocial, found over half of consumers (54.4%) prefer new messaging channels such as SMS, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and WhatsApp as their primary form of communication with brands compared to legacy channels such as email, phone, and web chat.
That’s not overly a surprise. But the truth is, much like storytelling and live news, nailing customer service is also becoming increasingly competitive from a platform side. Facebook Messenger has gained an enormous amount of ground throughout 2016 as one of the early leaders in the chatbot space for instance (behind Wechat in China). This is the introduction of artificial intelligence-enabled automated conversations through a chat interface, which for retailers is especially useful when applied to scalable customer service. Though still nascent, they’re expected to increasingly resonate with consumers.
Twitter therefore, has had to up its game in this space too. In November 2016, it launched bot-like features within direct messages for brands. Included are automated “welcome” responses, as well as “quick replies”, which let users choose from a series of pre-written sentences or prompts (like “what’s the status of my order”) to facilitate faster resolutions.
Cleverly, that also takes some of the weighty customer service conversations out of the feed, and into a private space instead, freeing up accounts to refocus on the storytelling piece Twitter is still aiming for. In that same vein, the company is also rolling out “curated profiles” to a handful of brands, in order to allow them to showcase the best of their content, including that of the visual and video type favoured by the fashion industry. Notably, Twitter is pushing this side of things far more heavily than it is the idea of conversions for retailers. It is actively phasing out its “buy” button for instance.
Sedge Beswick, managing director at SEEN Connects, and former head of social at ASOS, commented: “I still think [Twitter] plays a huge role from a customer care POV primarily – visual for Instagram, Facebook for innovation and Twitter can be the supporting platform where people know they can get timely, supportive and relevant customer care support […] especially if we get the bots right.”
Twitter isn’t going away just yet, but it’s got a lot of work to do if it wants to re-forge real relevance with the fashion industry. What does this mean in terms of how you should approach it? At this point in time, the answer is relatively dependent on the type of brand that you are – mass-market retailers, department stores and more niche, or specific, brands (like Lululemon), who have developed a level of customer service activity, will likely want to stick with the status quo, explore new features and continue using the platform as an opportunity to converse with consumers on a query-led basis while engagement is high. 900 happy customers, is still 900 happy customers. Same goes for just 64. But analyse the data in terms of what you really get out of it over time.
There’s also still something to be said for using Twitter with news in mind too, but be aware of the fact it’s less of a conversion tool and more of a PR one, and even that may well be only on a good day. Approach it from a content sharing point of view, but figure out within that what your followers actually respond to and adjust accordingly. Whether you spend any advertising budget alongside will make sense thereafter.
The simple truth is, if you’re much more of a visual brand, or indeed one already channeling your focus primarily through other platforms, you may want to keep it that way. For those hovering somewhere in the middle, it’s worthwhile maintaining your Twitter accounts, but doing so by doubling up on resource, rather than promoting anything completely unique, is probably wise.
With the world reeling from the news of the US election over this past week, analysts have been trying to wrap their head around exactly what a Trump government will mean for retail. There are several good reads listed below.
Also hitting the headlines has of course been the mindblowing success and growth of Alibaba’s Singles’ Day – this year a $17bn affair, up from ‘just’ $14bn in 2015.
Meanwhile, some lighter bits to absorb: a wealth of new campaigns launched for the holiday season. John Lewis vs Marks & Spencer has got us excited, but also below is everyone from Gap to Macy’s, Debenhams and Kohl’s.
ps. Don’t forget to sign up for our Snapchat Masterclass – we’re currently offering 20% for our readers using code “community”.
Given we’re headfirst into party season, with every retailer online and offline focusing their efforts accordingly on occasionwear, you’d be forgiven for thinking sales over this past weekend would have reflected similar thought.
But that’s where you’d be wrong…
During the Black Friday to Cyber Monday period, it was out with the party dresses and high heels, and in with luxury loungewear fit for curling up on the couch in, according to Lyst.
The e-commerce platform said it saw 13% more purchases of slippers than stilettos, 43% more sweatpants sold than mini skirts, and three hoodies bought for every blouse.
It also saw cashmere socks trending, and shoppers choosing traditional, cosy pyjama styles over ‘sexier’ lingerie pieces; full-length, long sleeve sets by Calvin Klein and DKNY out-sold more delicate lace and silk nightwear. There was also a big uptick in searches for luxury onesies and blanket scarves, with Acne’s oversized Canada scarf selling out in minutes across Lyst’s global retail partners.
It’s a Christmas for cosy, comfortable styles made in feel-good fabrications, said the site in a statement.
That insight comes from Lyst’s analysis of search, sales and active browsing data across its 11,000 partner retailers and brands, and shoppers in 180 countries. In any given hour, Lyst analyses over 4.5 million points of fashion data. Check out its tongue-in-cheek debut campaign displaying some of the search terms it sees its users focus on.
Nick Robertson might have stepped down as CEO of Asos this past week, but the e-commerce news from the UK that really grabbed global headlines was about Natalie Massenet leaving Net-a-Porter. The executive chairwoman of the luxury online retailer has resigned ahead of the company’s merger with Italian fashion group Yoox this October.
Massenet walks away with over £100m after selling her shares in the company, while Yoox founder Federico Marchetti will now run the new combined group.
Here’s what the industry had to say about the news:
WWD did a good job at outlining the tensions between the two companies, their founders and the plans for the merge. “Massenet was said to be against the idea of merging with Yoox from the start, with sources saying she fought against Yoox’s earlier attempts to buy Net. The two online retailers have distinctly different cultures — Yoox is no-frills and profit-driven while Massenet always considered Net-a-porter a luxury jewel focused as much on customer service and editorial content as product.”
The Business of Fashion similarly outlines reasons for the departure: that Richemont forced the deal on Massenet who wanted to keep Net-a-Porter independent; that Massenet and Marchetti have been long-term rivals; and that their cultures and management styles just aren’t compatible. Founder Imran Amed says he worries how the people behind both great businesses will respond when necessary changes up ahead are announced without Massenet’s leadership to help them through it. And what will that mean for maintaining the culture of Net-a-Porter too? Nonetheless, he adds: “Given that the conditions for the merger weren’t ideal to begin with, I guess it’s probably better for the combined business that Massenet has gracefully left at this stage, with amicable support from Marchetti, and that there is only one boss left. There will be no lingering tension or confused loyalties amongst the troops. The financial markets seem to think so: the Yoox share price surged five percent on the news of Massenet’s departure.”
Bloomberg agrees, calling it a blessing in disguise for the very fact it removes any confusion about who’s in charge and will help smooth the integration of the two businesses. Let’s not forget Net-a-Porter has always struggled to turn a profit, unlike its new bedfellow Yoox.
Yet Vanessa Friedman at the New York Times says Massenet’s departure may impact the image of the Net-a-Porter brand, if anything because she herself epitomised it. The company is losing its public face at a “time when branding-through-persona is increasingly important, be it for design houses, which are constantly thrusting their creative directors forward, sports brands or retailers,” she wrote. She added that whether luxury brands like Chanel and Tom Ford, both of which have recently agreed to selling on Net-a-Porter, will put the same trust in the site without the “constant reassurance” of Massenet’s presence, remains to be seen.
Carol Ryan at Reuters agrees: “[Massenet] has enviable industry contacts and a stellar individual reputation. The newly merged group may be easier to run with Yoox’s Marchetti as the single clear leader. But Yoox may well miss Massenet’s input.”
In another WWD story however, an analyst said Marchetti was going to be the one in charge if Massenet had stayed (he was to be CEO, and her executive chairman), and obviously he now will be without her. “So in this sense her exit changes nothing. There is perhaps the only risk of losing a more fashion and glamorous culture represented by Massenet and her story. But that attitude is not margin-friendly.”
As for the future, speculation and desires for Massenet’s plans span everything from stepping back into the publishing world from which she first came, even becoming successor to Anna Wintour at American Vogue, to heading into the start-up space. Massenet herself said: “After 15 extraordinary and exceptional years at The Net-a-Porter Group, the completion of the merger with Yoox Group is the right time for me to move on to explore new ideas and opportunities. The business I started in 2000 could not be in better shape today. Having joined forces with Yoox Group, the company will be bigger, stronger and superbly well positioned under Federico’s leadership to lead the industry and create the future of fashion. As for my own future, my entrepreneurial drive is as strong today as it always has been, and my passion for innovation will continue to be my greatest guide in business.” For more, take a read over at Business Insider, where the full email Massenet sent to her staff has also been published.
Is it just me or has Twitter become much less inspiring during fashion week season? I say that as an avid user – both personally and profesionally. I peruse posts day to day, and particularly once the shows hit London, Milan and Paris, when I’m watching via livestream from New York. I scroll through my own feed, I consume via social dashboards attached to designers’ websites, and I go back and search using hashtags and brand names afterwards, too.
What I’ve always enjoyed is the live commentary that you gather from those in the front row, but there seems to have been very little of it for the past couple of seasons, and I for one really miss it. Not the tweets that tell me what show they’re waiting for, the fact the first model has appeared/the last model has walked out, or even what color they’re seeing. Those still exist, and I can gather all that from home.
No, what I really want back, is actual commentary. I want to hear from the editors –- the experts no less — about the 1930s theme emerging at Prada and the influence Miuccia drew from film director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, or the details of the new Bloomsbury-inspired, hand-painted florals at Burberry Prorsum. I want to know what is sashaying down that runway that, from my own 13-inch screen, I can’t quite see.
The images that are posted can be nice, of course, and on occasion insightful (if not blurry, but that’s another issue). But what happened to a wonderfully descriptive annotation along with it? Or better yet a real-time opinion, a review-on-the-spot even? Here are some of the highlights from the Lanvin show Thursday:
Lots of pictures naturally, but did you gather much about the line really? Navy, white and feathers. It’s a start.
Now it’s not that everyone has put their smartphones back in their handbags to focus on the clothes as they come out of course. So what’s going on?
First up, quite obviously: Instagram. During London Fashion Week there were a total of 266,767 mentions on Twitter, and 316,359 posts on Instagram, according to Bell Pottinger, a British public relations and marketing firm. So arguably, much more time is being spent there.
It goes without saying there’s huge benefit in that space of course. But when someone is at at home watching a livestream, or has access to high-res images in near real-time — not to mention backstage ones from the brand themselves — Instagram shots from the front row don’t necessarily offer all that much. They’re a nice-to-have, and for a feel of fashion week in general, a fantastic stream to follow. But for those really wanting to know about the collections themselves, there’s still a gap — an information gap.
The skill of an editor who has worked in the industry for 10 or more years is to be able to quickly deduce what a collection is about, to analyze its importance for trends, to bring contextual knowledge of its applicability to the commercial market and to offer a clear understanding of the technical side (i.e., garment construction and fabrications).
But I don’t think the fact few editors or publications seem to be offering anything like this anymore comes down to just not having the time. With social media now reaching maturity, there’s inevitably becoming a greater push in terms of strategy for organizations and individuals alike on what to do and what not to do to achieve audience engagement.
So here’s my question: Is this lack of Twitter commentary as simple as editors just becoming more obsessed with Instagram? Or is there actually a direct decision being made not to give away too much there and then? (The knowledge of these men and women is a valuable commodity — why hand it out on a free platform, when you can rather store it up and post it on your own site for traffic generation later?)
Then again, maybe it’s just as simple as the fact we’re also all just a little bit over it. Or overwhelmed. Or lazy. Still, I’d like it back.
How do brands determine which of the multiple social media platforms available today are actually relevant to them, was one of the key questions posed by Elizabeth Canon, founder of Fashion’s Collective, at the first in a series of new workshops called FC Labs hosted in New York recently.
It’s all too easy to get swept up in the buzz of something such as Pinterest, but does that mean every brand should be there? What about Instagram? Tumblr? Even Twitter? And then beyond those, the yet newer ones again. The sheer volume of choice is overwhelming, even amid media hype for certain in particular, so how as a brand do you figure out whether to jump on board or not?
The most important thing, explained Canon, is to consider each platform’s purpose. She referenced the importance of understanding from the off what each site is actually about to be able to factor in your own place within that.
This includes user behaviour, so literally how consumers use and interact within the space. And equally of course, functionality; in terms of what each site actually lets you do. It’s worth spelling out that Twitter for instance in its most basic form is about short form text, communicating directly with consumers via the @ sign, joining in external conversations via trending topics and the hashtag, linking out to images and videos and so forth.
Canon emphasised that in understanding those things first and foremost, you’ll be able to better understand your own brand purpose on that platform. Or more importantly, whether what you’re setting out to achieve can in fact be done. “The two have to align to be successful,” she explained.
She urged for brands to step back and really think about whether they should be on a new platform or not. In pushing for a vetting process, she highlighted five key areas to consider; assessing each platform based on a series of factors relevant to fit with your brand content (the distinction variable in the equation):
Appearance. It does matter. On many platforms like Twitter or Facebook for instance, you’re very restricted on how much you can make your ‘page’ look your own. Tumblr on the other hand enables you to customise the design as much as you want.
Affinity. Everyone wants to be wanted, so are your customers actually already there? Some platforms even amid media hype, are still only being used by the early adopter set. Are those your target market?
Expansion. Making friends is a core part of social media. Does this platform allow you to build new connections and spread your customer base? Functionality is important again here, so does the platform also facilitate sharing so as to enable this growth?
Management. Do the resources you have allow you to do what you want to do? Everything from time commitment to whether you have the skills available to create the content you want, needs considering, not to mention of course where the budget is coming from.
Distinction. Is this platform different to the other ones you’re on. It’s important to weave the same story across numerous, but it needs to be done in different ways or it risks becoming too repetitive for your consumers.