Influencer marketing – the use of celebrities, bloggers and vloggers to promote products and brands on social media platforms – is a great way clothing retailers can target millennials and generation z shoppers. GlobalData research conducted in 2017 found that 66.9% of 16–24 and 56.5% of 25–34 year olds agreed that social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat inspire their clothing choices. Furthermore, 82% of 16–24s spend three hours or more on social media per day, making partnering with popular icons online a great way to stay top of mind and recruit new shoppers.
Partnerships involve anything from recruiting brand ambassadors to creating exclusive collections with the influencer, whereas pay-to-post usually involves paying influencers a one-off amount per social media post to advertise a product or brand. Influencers with a higher number of followers can charge more per post.
Pay-to-post can be a beneficial way of boosting brand awareness and driving sales of individual products at short notice. In addition, with the likes of Georgia Toffolo achieving over 10,000 likes for an Instagram photograph in under 24 hours, pay-to-post is a cost-effective way to grow brand visibility in a short-time frame.
However, partnerships should be primary to retailers’ social media strategies, with pay-to-post acting as a supplementary marketing technique, as these offer a long-term impact and come across as more authentic to viewers.
Partnership-led marketing has been highly effective for the likes of boohoo.com, Missguided and ASOS in growing brand awareness and expanding customer bases as reported in the retailers’ latest trading updates. In boohoo.com’s analyst presentation for the six months to 31 August 2017, it stated that its collection with influencer Tyga put boohooMAN “on the map in the USA”.
Retailers must choose the influencers they collaborate with carefully, hand-picking them on their suitability for the brand rather than just the size of their following. This can be evaluated by following potential influencers to see if they are existing customers of the retailer or fans of the brand, or by sending them product samples and monitoring whether they like the clothing. If the influencers like the item enough, they may even decide to recommend products to their social media following for free, signalling that they could be interested in a partnership.
Retailers must also be aware that working with influencers can have negative consequences. Scott Disick came under fire last year for accidentally posting the instructions to an Instagram post from the brand along with the caption, and Jess Shears has also lost followers on Instagram due to shoppers tiring of almost daily paid for posts for different products.