Canadian designers can better leverage social media

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Jessica Jensen   Image: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Another talented Canadian designer is closing shop.  Handbag designer, Jessica Jensen, sent an email to her fans announcing the end to a decade long career.  This announcement is on the back of two beloved designers, Lida Baday and Jeremy Laing, also recently closing shop.

What a blow to the Canadian fashion industry.  As a fan of all three brands, owning more than one piece from their lines over the years, I was so sad to see another Canadian designer burn out. 

In Globe and Mail’s article about Laing’s “retirement” they share the following, “The challenges of sustaining a self-financed business, at a time when fashion is driven more by marketing than quality and the competition is nothing short of brutal, drove Laing to take time out and reassess.”

That statement is chillingly true – marketing is powerful – being a good designer, isn’t good enough.  You need to get the word out there and promote, promote, promote.

To see if Canadian designers were successfully promoting themselves via social media, I took a look at 100 Canadian designers to see what kind of presence they had on social media and if they were using it to its full potential.  I discovered 80% of the designers had a Twitter handle.  But having a handle is not enough – of the 80%, 50% of the designers had fewer than 30K followers and didn’t regularly post content. 

As for Instagram, 66% of designers had an Instagram account.  However, unlike Twitter, those actually on Instagram where a bit more active – with over 60% posting pictures weekly.

To help designers better leverage the power of social media – giving their brand a fighting chance in a competitive market place – I put together a few ideas:

  • Team up with fashion influencers and have them post and Tweet on your behalf.  LouLou Magazine is running a successful campaign #366daysoflooks implementing a similar idea
  • Offer special promotions exclusively to your social media followers.  For example, offer social media followers a 20% discount with a code you post
  • Host contests for the best “street style”.  Have customers post and Tweet pictures of themselves wearing your fashions – the picture with the most “likes” gets, say, a new outfit or a gift card or tickets to the Toronto Fashion Show
  • Listen and engage in the conversation.  Instead of solely posting content, ensure you are engaging with your followers – liking and retweeting, thanking them for their likes and retweets, commenting on their posts
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