The Social Anatomy of Fashion

5 years ago
Fast on the heels of last week’s Screen Actors Guild (SAG) “red carpet” affair and awards, and in deference to numerous fashion- and tech-related events taking place this week in New York City— including WWD Digital Forum, Fashion 2.0 and Hearst Media’s Fashion & Tech, all which bring together fashionistas immersed in web-related marketing and social intelligence—I became curious as to what constitutes the “anatomy” of fashion in social media.

One way to explore this anatomy is to accurately monitor and measure the influence of social media utilizing a real-time advanced social listening platform—a platform that not only dissect brands and topics through multiple lenses but also ideally supports many languages in order to appreciate the global industry’s significant investment in social media intelligence as part of their strategic KPI marketing.

As witnessed by the sell-out social and digital events which take place during New York Fashion Week—SMWNYC, Hearst Media, Fairchild, Creative Week and other gatherings of fashion and tech literati—the fashion industry is arguably a bellwether in the adoption and investment in social media; from content marketing, analytics, and innovation to customer engagement, listening and benchmarking best social media practice.  All these efforts raise the bar, setting new high standards which point to actionable insights for other industries. 

So, where does social meet the red carpet and the runway?       


According to our NetBase analysis, the nexus points to fashion brands on Twitter.  Across all social domains, SAG traffic registered over 85% of all conversations on Twitter, followed by a distant 6% for the Facebook community pages.  More than 58% of social conversations focused on fashion across nine channels or sources (almost 364 million impressions) occurred on Twitter during and the SAG awards and the day that followed, predominantly among women (67.5%). Leading brands mentioned were Chanel and Dior.


According to our NetBase social listening platform, SAG’s Best Actress winner Jennifer Lawrence, in a Dior Haute Couture design, elevated her trending status, which irrefutably contributed to the social exposure of the House of Dior. Social listening also would seem to show that viewers are even making book on the upcoming Academy Award Oscars, with an eye for the fashion. 


As fashion brands and agencies continue to grapple with Big Data and questioning how it has changed the playing field—even daring to ask whether Big Data can spell the death of a campaign.  Such data analysts as Shaina Boone, VP Marketing Science at Critical Mass, an Omnicom company, recently suggested at the OMMA Data Driven Marketing Summit what might sound to some like a crisis mitigation strategy; or, in the least, a quantum leap for agencies: The need for an agency culture shift to the mentality of feeding data up front and historical analysis to inform strategy.  Boone further pointed to the existing clash of cultures—culture of advertising, culture of research, culture of accountability—and the need incentivize cross-channel accountability. 

Hearst Media’s Charlie Swift also spoke at OMMA DDM about the changing role of the marketer, from convincing advertisers to customizing for the advertisers’ customers.  Citing the shift in his own professional role from back room geek to what Harvard Business Review now calls the sexiest job—Data Scientist—Swift now is tasked with the strategic marketing role of explaining how the data impacts functions and drives results across the organization. 

Macy’s Julie Bernard spoke about how a brand uses big data for fine tuned customization, which also requires stepping outside the data, in order not to lose sight of consumer experience.  This may dictate the need to introduce a new customer experience. Bernard did caution attendees about the dangers of uber-customization based on data, which could run the risk of boring the customer. She also stressed the importance of synthesizing data to tell an interesting story, as well as correlating same to drive customer experience, drive visits and purchase—regardless of channel.  From a fashion perspective, Bernard cited the need to have a longitudinal attitude toward customer experience with the brand.

Despite early social media reservations about brand dilution, luxury brands from Louis Vuitton to The Four Seasons have embraced social media strategies, with 51% of luxury brands reporting an increased social digital spend in 2012 from the prior year, generally reserving 20-60% of their overall media spend for digital marketing.   

With relatively few entry barriers into social media, the fashion world isn’t burdened by regulatory issues that face other industries.  In combination with a highly creative spirit, the fashion industry essentially is less risk adverse than most sectors, confirming the uptick in social brand marketing and intelligence gathering now being witnessed.

Collecting and analyzing data no longer is an afterthought, and the Harvard Business Review  has made it official.  The coolest job is now Data Scientist, and the new expectation is to teach the people who comprise organizations how to use it.  

Clearly, fashion has the alchemy to do what it takes to use big data to drive conversion.

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