5 Social Media Lessons Fashion Brands Can Learn from Oscar de la Renta
If 2 years ago, fashion marketers had been asked which brands they expected to be leading the social media revolution transforming fashion marketing, it's unlikely they'd have named Oscar de la Renta.With limited marketing resources and with a signature product, the $5,000 cocktail dress, which was inaccessible to many, the family-owned fashion house seemed to be an unlikely candidate as a social media innovator.But that's exactly what they've become. With over 220,000 fans on Facebook and 85,000 Twitter followers, the brand punches way above it's weight in social media circles, and their story should act as an inspiration for small and medium-sized fashion brands looking to leverage the power of social media to promote their own businesses.Here are the 5 social media lessons that all fashion brands can learn from Oscar de la Renta's approach:Keep Innovating to Stay Ahead of Your RivalsBack in June 2010, Oscar de la Renta was one of the first fashion brands to livestream it's runway show . Livestreaming a show wasn't necessarily an innovation itself at the time - a handful of fashion rivals were doing the same - but whilst rivals were streaming their shows via their own sites, with no opportunity to interact or share, ODLR encouraged a dialogue between audience and designer by allowing viewers to post questions and comments via Facebook and Twitter.By this year, interactive livestreaming of fashion shows had become mainstream, but in the latest round of catwalk shows, ODLR pushed the boundaries of interactivity further again. By using the hashtag #odrlive, the brand allowed viewers of both the livestream and of the actual show to share their photographs with the virtual audience. This crowdsourcing exercise resulted in over 1000 photo uploads, creating a kaleidoscopic backdrop to the live feed of the runway show on Tumblr.By staying one step ahead, ODLR positioned itself as an innovator (no bad thing in the fashion world), reaped the benefit of all the column inches of coverage those innovations bring and kept it's users interested and engaged.Don't Be Afraid to ExperimentSocial media is a relatively new channel for fashion brands - we tend to forget that it was only a few years ago that brand pages were initially introduced - so brands should still be prepared to experiment, and learn the lessons from those experiments.When, in April of this year, ODLR decide to launch their first fragrance in 10 years, they choose Facebook as the sole vehicle for their sampling campaign ahead of the launch. Their pioneering approach was rewarded with 25,000 sample requests in 3 days - creating valuable demand and buzz for their new product for a very small investment.In this case, their experiment was a success but it wouldn't have mattered if the promotion had fallen flat on its face. The key is, they were prepared to try something new and gained important learnings from the process. Without experimentation, brands will learn little about what will really motivate and engage their followers.Be Transparent The success of the OscarPRGirl, the Twitter and Tumblr alter-ego of ODLR Director of Communications Erika Bearman, is in her transparency.Not only does she let her followers have a peek behind the scenes of the fashion house but a peek into her fashion centric existence in New York.People relate to people better than they do to brands, and OscarPRGirl's 'realness' is a strong factor behind her success.Aim to Engage, Not Just to Build a FollowingODLR's social media focus is on engagement, not follower numbers.Their reasoning is that the more time their fans spend talking about Oscar de la Renta, the less time they spend talking about rival brands. And those conversations are not just between the brand and its followers, but between their followers and their friends, building awareness of the brand virally.It would be a mistake to build a huge social media following if you didn't then do enough to get those followers talking about your brand but it's exactly that mistake that many fashion brands are making.See Social as an Opportunity to Expand Your BusinessIf ODLR had purely seen social media as a means to sell more $5,000 cocktail dresses, the likelihood is that they'd have been disappointed. But they've come to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr as a means to learn and expand their business.Their success on Facebook in particular has encouraged them to plan the introduction of an f-commerce store with products available at more accessible pricepoints. Their social media experiment has also opened their eyes to their many fans overseas and the benefits of making their brand more accessible internationally.So by coming to the channel with an open mind, ODLR has unearthed new commercial opportunities which would have remained dormant if they hadn't been prepared to experiment with social media.As Oscar de la Renta has demonstrated, social media success in the fashion industry is about being innovative, being transparent, being engaging and keeping an open mind, not necessarily deep pockets or access to expert thinking.If all fashion brands keep in mind the mantras that have driven Oscar de la Renta 's social media success to date, then they too can reap the benefits that this emerging channel can bring.