Figuring out how to engage a rapidly evolving consumer is the bane of many a brand’s existence and the rising popularity of social media influencers is giving fashion firms a new element to tackle.
For better or worse, the use of social media influencers brings a brand exposure to thousands of new followers — and (hopefully) puts it on the radar of a highly-connected Gen Z consumer.
But, are these relationships — which have grown increasingly complicated as some consumers bite back against disingenuous online posts and the Federal Trade Commission’s cracks down on potentially misleading ads by influencers — really worth it?
Here, FN asked executives from several popular brands to weigh in on the question: ‘How valuable are social media influencers for brands?’
President, Summit by White Mountain
“Social media influencers have become an instantaneous way to expose our brand directly to our targeted audiences. Whenever there is a Summit post [on social media] we see sales increase for the style posted. When likes are 300 or up, we can sell out of a style in days. [For example], Gina Ybarra of @Huntforstyles wore the Braxton in tan back in August, and sales skyrocketed both on Zappos and Nordstrom.com.”
VP of marketing, Blowfish Malibu
“We work with a few influencers monthly. [They allow us] to reach new audiences, gain followers and give a fresh, authentic voice to our brand. We love how they’re creative and immersed in the digital world. They may take our product and showcase it in a way we hadn’t thought of and help us think outside the box contentwise. We are, [however], selective and clear with our needs and ensure we work with people who want to collaborate and understand our brand guidelines.”
Chief creative officer, Nina Footwear Corp.
“Kids truly understand the concept of ‘see it, want it now.’ We regularly collaborate with kid influencers — they’re a major part of our social strategy. Some of these kids have 500,000 followers or more on Instagram. When @Txunamy, or Everleigh and Ava of @Foreverandforava, post their favorite Nina kids’ shoes, it’s not unusual for them to get 30,000 likes. It’s challenging to track sales from Instagram, but it’s great for brand discovery.”
President, 361 Degrees USA
“While we do believe that health, wellness and fitness influencers are impactful in telling a brands story, 361 Degrees USA encourages a healthy lifestyle and we take pride in growing organically. We do not to rely heavily on social media influencers as we mainly depend on our customers world-wide to find an essential place for our footwear and apparel in their day-to-day lives and believe that nobody knows what works best for them until they experience it for themselves.”
“We have seen great success from social media influencers’ promoting our brand. They have already won over their audience’s trust, so when they talk about a product or brand they love, it’s an immediate win. The only downside is that it is sometimes hard to track conversions, but we undoubtedly see a lift in our sales, and specifically on the items that they are promoting.”
“Being in touch with influencers is a good way to push the brand and connect with our target audience while being believable and authentic. That’s why it is very important to choose the right influencers to communicate the brand message. It’s essential to choose people with values [that are consistent with] the brand because they are representing you. Every [social media] post brings [our] brand hundreds of new followers, pushes our brand message, and of course, drives sales. We check the sales coming from every post and, in Spain, every post of an influencer with an engaged following gives us around 50 sales.”
Marketing director, Seychelles Footwear
“As one of the first brands to see the value of blogging close to a decade ago, we are proud of the organic relationships we’ve cultivated with influencers. But as social media has grown and Instagram posts have become a regular format for paid advertising, we are more conscious about keeping our relationships authentic. We will never simply pay someone for access to their followers, or to stand by our product if they don’t truly love it.”