Mr Porter’s head of social media on championing Instagram and avoiding ‘recycled’ content

Brands must create a unique online character and consistent original content through platforms such as Instagram, according to Mr Porter’s social media editor Lauren Luxenberg, who says that social has “transformed” the fashion brand.

Mr Porter is the most socially engaged premium UK fashion retailer, according to new research from retail marketing agency Leapfrogg, topping brands such as Kurt Geiger and Matches.

The research, which analysed 25 brands and scored their engagement levels across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, scored Mr Porter 17 out of 25 points.

And since joining the Net-a-Porter owned Mr Porter last September, Luxenberg, who joined from luxury fashion agency 4PS marketing and is also the creator of renowned fashion blog Style Savage, has been pivotal in helping the brand expand into platforms such as Pinterest.

She has also played a role in brand partnerships with the likes of 20th Century Fox for its Colin Firth-starring spy film Kingsman, which resulted in a trendy Savile Road pop-up store full of suits from the movie.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Luxenberg gave us an insight into Mr Porter’s social media strategy.

Mr Porter has really led the way on social in the fashion space over recent years. How key is it to your brand?

Social is key to any brand. With Mr Porter especially it can be the first impression people have of us so we have to get it completely right. People often ask who is Mr Porter? What does he look like? Is he a real person? I think social media is our biggest tool to communicate who he actually is. We use social and Instagram especially to communicate the lifestyle and personality of Mr Porter.

Has making the brand appear like a living, breathing character been a successful strategy?

Definitely. We created the Mr Porter on the road hashtag so our audience can follow him on his journey and engage with him. It is about communicating the lifestyle of the brand through social and making it approachable as if it is a personality people can speak to.

We get quite a lot of engagement around our social channels, people asking where we will go next. There’s people really connecting with us when we go to certain hotels or restaurants. People can get a real insight into who Mr Porter is and, with the whole travel lifestyle, it relates to so many people, that’s why it has been so successful. In our case, people want to follow the mysterious and voyeuristic lifestyle of this man to get inspired.

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 17.43.45
The #mrporterontheroad hashtag has proven popular for Mr Porter on Instagram

As an online brand, your marketing activity also appears to primarily be in the digital space. Is that a conscious decision?

The main benefits of a social strategy are immediate results and we have agility. If ads are not working we can take them down quickly or amend them very quickly in places too. Everything is so immediate. Any digital channel you can think of we are investing in.

It also depends on the campaign. We’ve done offline ads on taxis in Canary Wharf and New York. The Kingsman pop-up was also a great way to physically bring the brand to life, and we have a lot of interesting things in that space that will be coming to market soon.

Instagram, in particular, is a real driver for Mr Porter. What must brands do to be successful on the platform?

Instagram is our key channel. I know there is a lot of talk about it changing fashion brand’s marketing identity but I don’t look at it that way. I see it as the way we visually merchandise our brand. So landing on an Instagram page is like looking through a shop window for an ecommerce brand like ourselves.

About 30% of our Instagram content is refocused from The Journal [Mr Porter’s online fashion magazine] but the rest is all original content, made especially for the platform. We often do entirely separate photo shoots for Instagram as people simply don’t want recycled content. We currently have 3.5 million followers on seven channels but from Instagram alone we get 100 million impressions a year.

A lot of brands treat Instagram like it is Twitter and they think it needs to be an in the moment platform, where you share a status. You especially see this over the fashion weeks where people share catwalk images. What brands don’t necessarily think about at the time is everyone who follows and is already interested in style receives the same image somewhere else multiple times. So where is the uniqueness and inspiration? It is crucial that we treat every channel with different objectives and content, there needs to be a different tone of voice.

Mr Porter by numbers:

  • Instagram – 466K followers
  • Facebook – 419K fans
  • Twitter – 209K followers
  • Pinterest – 100K followers
  • YouTube – 84K subscribers

How is Mr Porter treating emerging platforms such as Pinterest and Snapchat? Are they key to your future?

We now do a lot on Pinterest. We ran an event with them last year, where we brought five Pinterest boards to life. We did a “How to do Christmas with Mr Porter” with things like how to taste wine, how to create alternative festive dishes, how to wrap gifts and, off the back of it, we grew our followers from 6,000 to 100,000 within a few weeks. Men who are active on there visit it on a regular basis and use it as a search engine to find things like what to wear with navy socks. I think the key difference between Instagram and Pinterest, is the latter drives a lot of referral traffic for us – that is the missing piece of the puzzle.

Snapchat isn’t currently a focus, but it is something we are definitely looking into.

Whether it’s celebrity interviews or advice columns, The Journal seems to be a real priority for Mr Porter. Is having a content creation platform generating bigger sales?

It is huge for us. At the end of the day brands are now expected to be publishers. The ones that win will answer the intended questions their audience is asking and will be not afraid to invest in it. This is how you gain authority on Google and with your future customers.

If the idea is to get people to buy your clothes, why not be the brand that educates them on what they are actually buying? Our primary customer isn’t necessarily brand and product aware, he’s more often than not looking for practical style advice that guides his purchases. The editorial is driving a big chunk of our sales and traffic. From the very start this has been our brand vision; content first.

How key are vloggers and social influencers to the brand? Mr Porter has teamed up with the likes of Diageo and Jude Law over recent years. Will this kind of activity continue?

You have to learn how to give up control. We recently did a huge piece on Hong Kong influencers and we partnered with people over there, it is so fascinating how in every market the Instagram presence is so different. We are a global brand and want to focus on gaining world class influencers in every territory.

Most retailers should have 40% to 60% of their traffic and revenue coming from searches on Google. Half the battle is making a website look great and the other half is creating content that people can share. If you aren’t creating that you won’t get the sales and traffic. I love what Loreal do with makeup.com, their style and beauty issues website as it mirrors our strategy.

There’s no real algorithm with a lot of platforms that will tell you how to grow a community, we just focus on engagement and reach. They never tell you on Instagram how many people you will gain. Of course we have targets but it is better to focus on creating the right content, rather than chasing numbers.

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