Recently, French fashion brand Louis Vuitton appointed Grammy-winning producer, rapper, singer and songwriter Pharrell Williams as its new menswear creative director – despite him having no formal design background.
But what he does bring to the table is 14.3 million Instagram followers, and according to The Washington Post’s fashion editor Robin Ghivan: “Williams is someone who has a sense of what’s bubbling up from the culture… he looks the part of a man who seems to be in touch with a rising generation of consumers.”
This story reflects the growing and immense rise of the influencer in the fashion world. And it’s a tale that’s being repeated all over the world. There’s Alyssa Coscarelli, now director of partnerships at LA-based retail platform Emcee, Chiara Ferragni, appointed to the board at Tod’s Group, and YouTuber Emma Chamberlain becoming creative director of beauty brand Bad Habit.
And just weeks ago, the microloans specialist Klarna teamed up with one of the world’s original influencers, Paris Hilton, on a global multimedia campaign comprising films, stills, events and social content.
Everywhere you look, fashion brands have gone ‘all in’ on influencer engagement. It’s not surprising when you consider that 60% of consumers have purchased something recommended by an influencer at least once.
The challenge of the post-campaign conversation
Given the effectiveness of influencer marketing, three in four B2C brands plan to increase their influencer marketing budget over the next three years. However, the fact is, no one is on Instagram, TikTok or Facebook Messenger 24 hours a day. Insta stories are only live for 24 hours. Algorithms can’t be relied upon to make sure that content always reaches everyone. So even the most committed customer will miss an influencer product placement or live shopping event that could have been perfect for them.
Social shopping events are also an incredibly important way for brands to leverage their influencer relationships to drive sales. Take Swedish company Bambuser. Its platform allows brands – but also influencers – to host a live online shopping experience. Think of it like QVC for social media but with clickable ‘buy now’ links. In just a few years, Bambuser has collaborated with more than 35,000 unique creators on more than 41,000 live shopping events. It currently works with 350 brands including Farfetch, Clarins and the LVMH group.
Of course, all this opportunity for reach and relatability is great news. But it raises an important question: how can brands increase their number of viewers for the live video shopping events and influencer posts?
Well, in one important way, it’s easier than ever. Influencer engagement takes place on a phone – and the phone is a medium built for messaging. This is unique in the history of media. After all, you can’t message someone who just read about your campaign in a magazine or saw it on a TV show.
And today, brands can now easily start two-way conversations with customers by harnessing next-generation messaging channels such as WhatsApp or rich SMS – an evolution of the standard text message that allows brands to include images, video and chatbots. These conversations can be initiated by simply saying: “Check out our campaign ‘That’s Smoooth’ with Paris Hilton.”
Thanks to technical advances, this is very easy to do. Messaging has become software – and this makes it possible for brands to simply add powerful omnichannel messaging functionality via APIs (application programming interfaces) and then manage their own activity (via multiple channels) from a simple web dashboard.
And thanks to chatbots, conversational messaging doesn’t have to be done by humans. Instead, brands can set up virtual agents to handle simple and predictable questions.
Combining influencer engagement with conversational messaging is an opportunity too good to miss. It presents a way for fashion brands to find customers, target them with customised offers, and then communicate with them via two-way chat.
It’s the next phase of social commerce and it’s so on-trend for 2023. Now that’s hot!