The Danger of Instagram for Marketing Fashion & Lifestyle Brands

There is no argument that social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are a fantastic way to build your fashion brand and connect with your audience.

These tech-behemoths have invested billions of dollars to give you truly amazing services that have democratized marketing and enabled small start-up brands the opportunity to reach an audience far beyond their means, and all for free.

This truly is the best time in history for creative entrepreneurs to build the businesses of their dreams!

However, I want you to take off those rose tinted glasses for a moment and look ahead.

Almost every brand owner I speak to is obsessed with their social following and building their audience, specifically on Instagram.

It’s no surprise as it unquestionably works. Small brands have sprung from obscurity to build 100,000+ followers on Instagram which they convert into healthy sales figures and some savvy fashion bloggers have harnessed this platform to become full-time snappers leveraging six-figure earnings.

But there is a real danger in concentrating all of your focus on this “leased platform”.

“You don’t own your brands followers, they do!”

Lets learn from the past and take a look at Facebook (wow, it feels weird writing that sentence).

Prior to 2012, fashion brands were enjoying a similarly lucrative time on Facebook. Their business pages had been available for a while and companies were amassing large numbers of followers which were even easier to convert to sales as they could directly link to their ecommerce. But then something disastrous happened, Facebook changed it’s algorithms!

Practically overnight, pages went from reaching all of their fans news feed to only serving a fraction.

As Facebook evolved the organic reach of your content decreased to an average of just 16% of your Facebook fans actually seeing your posts! A figure which is likely much much lower in 2016!

To be clear, this wasn’t a bad thing for it’s users. These changes needed to take place as the sheer quantity of content vying for peoples attention was turning peoples news feeds into a series of noisy interruptions.

The changes in these algorithms also helped Facebook evolve into the incredibly powerful engine for ultra-targeted paid advertising which it is today which you can massively benefit from. It just sucked if you had all of your eggs in that one basket!

This brings us back to Instagram.

In 2014 Instagram rolled out it’s own advertising features in the form of sponsored posts which we are all now familiar with.

As the number of users on this platform grows and our feeds become saturated with content, it’s only a matter of time before Instagram will need to introduce their own algorithms (and remember, they are owned by Facebook!)

When that happens, all of the brands out there that have invested 100% of their efforts in this one revenue stream will get a similar kick in the teeth to those a few years back with Facebook.

So what am I saying? Should we not spend time building our audience on Instagram?

Absolutely not, that would be ridiculous. You should do everything you can to make hay whilst the sun shines and even on Facebook, that small percentage of followers that are seeing your posts do so because they are engaged with your brand and genuinely want to see them, so you should continue to service your core audience.

But you should also be aware that this change will happen and plan accordingly. It would be far wiser to use the reach of these platforms to build your audience and simultaneously migrate them to a property that you own 100%.

Instead of just focusing all of your efforts on these leased properties, build your own asset.

Put out great, valuable content that your audience will love on a blog and then direct them to subscribe to that through social media instead of just pitching products.

Create a newsletter that delivers the best of your blog directly to their inbox and focus on building that audience.

Whilst having a 100,000+ followers on Instagram is great, imagine if you had 100,000 readers of your own blog that eagerly awaited the next newsletter as they knew you will be providing them with valuable content (and not sales garbage).

That would be an insanely powerful position to be in and something the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world couldn’t take away from you.

There is a saying that was introduce to me recently,

“Income follows assets.”

For a fashion brand, one of your biggest assets is your followers and if they are all on an external platform, then it’s one you don’t own!

Take ownership of your assets now!

Thanks for reading!
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Originally published at www.adammarcwilliams.co.uk.