After being canceled last year due to COVID, Miami Swim Week is officially back! The one week when bronzed bikini models and fashion insiders flock to Miami in droves. They gather for a few days of trendy swimwear, event pop-ups, and branded brunches. Despite this, the industry is working to pivot in order to maintain momentum. Paraiso Miami Beach, the Riviere Agency, and Fashion Week Online are some of the key players behind Miami Swim Week’s largest events.
1. INFLUENCER MARKETING FOR FASHION BRANDS
The term ‘influencer’ can be a controversial one depending on who you ask. But influencers are definitely not going anywhere anytime soon. So you may as well use them to your advantage! Zack Tanck, Digital Director at communications firm Bollare, works with a myriad of the top swimwear brands. Tanck understands how to leverage influencer relationships to grow a label. He focuses on establishing a cohesive image and utilizing social media to gain notability within your niche. For industry newcomers, it is especially helpful working with another up-and-coming influencer. Cultivating an authentic relationship early on will help down the road when either one of you inevitably blows up! Additionally, maintaining longevity between brands establishes credibility for you both.
Influencers are arguably a more effective marketing strategy than placement on a mega-celeb. Ernest B James, the founder of NOIRE MGMT, was quick to point this out. “A lot of times influencers are more influential than the celebrities themselves because of the multiple platforms they are engaging with an audience…they are buying things that you would want,”. Besides, if the voice and aesthetic of a label do not match that of a celebrity, then what’s the point? Social media influencers have the cutting-edge ability to directly speak with an audience. Using this to their advantage is another way brands can establish credibility.
USE INFLUENCERS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE!
As long as they aren’t pushing ridiculous weight-loss teas, most maintain trust with their followers. That means when an influencer does market a product, their audience is that much more likely to trust the brand. Exactly like when a friend gives you a suggestion on the best mascara. Many post about aspirational lifestyles, but in a way that feels much more relatable than a celebrity. Not only that but many top fashion influencers want to be on the cutting-edge of up-and-coming swimwear brands. Some may even be willing to accept gifted items instead of full payment for posts. Clarify the terms of agreement for posting on social media channels beforehand. It is in the best interest of both parties to establish guidelines.
Engagement is more important than followers when it comes to influencers. There is a fine line between gifting too much product without receiving the number of expected sales. Executed correctly Influencer Marketing brings twofold returns. First, monetarily with an influx in sales, and secondly by building up a brand’s image for the long-term.
2. CONTENT IS KING
‘Content is King’ is a common phrase around the digital media/marketing world. But do you know where the saying originated? Way back when way before the term influencer was even coined, Bill Gates penned an essay in 1996. The title was – you guessed it – ‘Content is King.’ Published on the Microsoft website, Gates insightfully wrote “Content is where much of the real money will be made on the Internet,”. Just as Gates predicted, there is intense competition when it comes to content.
Anyone can publish on multiple platforms in an instant. With a relatively low start-up cost, there is a low barrier to entry. The difficult part is vying for attention with an innumerable amount of creators. And this is why Content is King. Without engaging, innovative content your brand will not grow on digital media platforms. The content was a hotly discussed topic among the speakers at Miami Swim Week Summit. The competition may be fierce, but audiences are rapidly consuming content and craving originality.
CONTENT SHOULD GO BEYOND THE IMAGE
Melissa Megginson and Chloe Bubert from Tailwind, an Instagram analytics and scheduler tool, went over the best social media practices to start incorporating. Content is not only visual – the caption is just as important! Captions focus on valuable key points focusing on a specific aspect. Post captions provide information about an event, product launch, cities, et cetera. Detailed captions express show feeling, specifics, and all the stuff which show more about the person and brand behind the image. They are also a critical part of starting a conversation.
Ask your audience questions to build engagement and illicit feedback. Never before have brands been able to directly ask consumers for feedback with instant responses. Take advantage! Effective captions also include a call to action. This goes back to the ‘ask’ part of a caption. Ask followers to leave a comment, save the content to reference later, and share with a friend – whatever makes sense.
MAKE CONTENT RELATABLE AND RELEVANT
The call to action is a pivotal part of your content strategy in order to grow and engage a digital following. Make sure that what you choose to post will provide value in some form to make sharing easier. This is another reason why pairing up with influencers can be so helpful. Influencers create fresh content – each providing its own unique value. These posts tell the story of your brand and the message behind it.
Additionally, utilize user-generated content (UGC.) There is nothing better than seeing ‘real people’ buy and post about your business online! Just leave a kind comment or DM to ask if you can repost with their permission. While influencer content is great, it’s always good to mix it up. Depending on the audience, ‘real people’ rocking your brand’s product in their lives can be more relatable.
Experiment with different forms of content, mediums, and information to see what resonates best with your audience. It is important to maintain some consistency amongst brand aesthetic and message. At the same time don’t be afraid to mix up the ancillary extras to keep things interesting. You never know what will end up taking off!
3. CREATE A BRAND VISION
Speaking of consistency… keeping a brand vision in mind is crucial when creating content. Before even beginning to post anything you should be answering these questions to maintain that cohesion.
How do you want people to feel when consuming your content? How will it serve others – what is the purpose? What is your brand’s story? Grab a notepad and pen or even just hack it out on your computer. Let words free flow.
As a seasoned digital director Zack Tanck has some great insight on this topic. His advice? Think through your brand’s aesthetic, and the differentiators, and write out your mission statement. Don’t be afraid to listen to your instinct and be unique. Once you figure out these factors, keep them at the forefront of all content you publish. Will this content align with the brand vision you have written down? Remember the most successful marketing campaigns include some sort of repetition.
When your target customer recognizes a similarity amongst aesthetics, voice, and themes in your posts the familiarity will start to sink in. There is so much content out there it requires that repetition to ingrain brand recognition. This is the only way to get the attention of your ideal customer and grow an engaging audience. You may feel like a broken record – but keep telling the story of your brand to new followers and even those who have been around. Show them what you’re about!
BRANDS CAN SHOW FEELINGS TOO
Gen Z & Millennials are increasingly looking beyond the brand itself to see what they represent and how they treat their community. Ethics are at the forefront of priorities for this group and they want to know how a product is produced. Additionally don’t shy away from getting personal. Social Media is supposed to be about connecting with one another. That doesn’t mean you have to write down your life story within captions. Do share a bit of who you are, why you started this business, etc.
Like everything else balance is key. Keep the content posted a healthy mix of relatable, aspirational, and accessible for your followers. Sharing these bits in photos, videos, and the written word will show people why they want to be a part of this community. Moreover, when adding real value it will show them how it is attainable for them, (even if just in a small way).
4. HOW TO LEVERAGE SOCIAL MEDIA
Between branding and influencer marketing it is clear why social media is a crucial component. We’ve gone over the main points in the previous paragraphs and know social media is important. But beyond the given benefits how can you leverage social media to grow a brand?
What if you’re just starting out and can hardly afford to produce content consistently? Or don’t even know where to begin? Rocco Leo Gaglioti is the Founder and CEO of Fashion News Lifestyle Network. His career spans over 25 years of producing and distributing content. He definitely knows his stuff when it comes to digital creation! Gaglioti advises you to write down your ideas for content and put a blast out on social media. See who in your network would like to collaborate. Send direct messages to camera-men or graphic designers. Basically whoever you know has skills you can utilize!
Right now Gaglioti’s network is working on a new sector called ‘Film Corner’. The goal is to change how brands display collections by leveraging digital production. This is especially important when considering international events. Even though COVID affected travel and live events in a major way, there are still ways to get creative. Designers and marketers are coming up with ways to display what your brand has to offer using video.
HIGH-QUALITY PRODUCTION IS KEY
Remember, presentation is important and reflects the quality of your brand. Be sure to keep digital productions well-made and thoughtful.
Good quality doesn’t mean you need access to a professional videographer. Ernest B James recommends employing boomerangs or stop-motion video. This will add variety while still being simple enough for most people to manage.
Besides content, leverage social media by using the chance to take a stand. News rapidly spreads about major events around the world. Social media gives brands a chance to respond in real-time. Take a stance on causes you believe in and show your audience you care. It doesn’t all have to be serious though.
Sarah Penny of Influencer Intelligence moderated a discussion on celebrity and influencer marketing. Events like Miami Swim Week are huge for collaboration between brands and influencers. Panelists encourage making your followers feel like a part of the action. Leverage social media to include followers in experiences such as fashion shows. Take quick videos of behind-the-scenes looks. Make use of Instagram stories and TikTok to cover all that live-action!
GET COMFORTABLE BEING UNCOMFORTABLE
Using platforms such as Instagram project the image and lifestyle of a brand. Capitalize on it to create excitement. Be sure to also respond to as many comments and Direct Messages as well! This is a surefire way to keep an audience engaged and grow loyalty to a brand. Followers care when you care.
Vanessa Sanchez of Nessy Swimwear massively grew her swimwear label by applying these tactics. Using Instagram to reach out to influencers consistently she grew a devoted fan base. Even Kim Kardashian has been seen rocking one of her bikinis! Goes to show how with perseverance Social Media works wonders. It can grow a brand in ways before impossible without the right connections or money.
Instagram has reigned as Queen Bee in terms of social media platforms for the past few years. Although especially after this year TikTok is quickly gaining steam. It remains to be seen if the platform will have the same kind of longevity. Especially in terms of monetization has Instagram has. Even so, the point is to not put all your eggs in one basket. Get comfortable making content across different platforms. Pinterest for example has been around for a while. Recently it is gaining slow but steady traction. The site continues to have steady growth as a sort of visual search engine. It is still one of the very best ways to drive traffic to your website!
5. HOW TO GAIN CREDIBILITY AS A NEW BRAND
This is where it all comes together. The secret sauce if you will. Properly execute Steps 1-4 and your brand will have the tools it needs for marketing success! My final takeaway is the extra kicker to really put you over the edge.
Gather your high-quality images from content creators, events, and other brand collaborations. Once you have these start reaching out to major publications related to your niche. Be sure they cover the same topics and style your brand does. This ensures they also have an audience ready for your product. No sense in pitching to a beauty magazine when you sell sandals.
The quality component is important here! Major online publications will only display photos that meet their standards. This means not only well-produced social media images. You need to have basic product images as well. Neatly display the product on a plain white background, not on a model.
THROW THE PERFECT PITCH FOR MIAMI SWIM WEEK EDITORS
With the perfect pitch and images in tow, there’s only one step left. Albeit the most important one. The panelists all voiced a unanimous agreement to simply be nice! Being kind and authentic in your message goes a long way. Do not get discouraged by the nos and be persistent (but polite). We already know this worked for Vanessa of her eponymous label Nessy Swim. This kind of persistence got her bathing suits on top influencers and celebrities.
The same image posted by a top content creator can have double the impact. First by driving traffic through social media websites. But also if it gets picked up by the press in fashion round-ups. (Like when a celeb is casually spotted on their luxurious tropical getaway wearing so-and-sos brand.)
Focus on working with a diverse range of celebs and influencers. Your audience wants to see what your product looks like on someone with their skin tone and body type! Especially at highly publicized major events such as Miami Swim Week. These events add heaps of credibility and major status for a brand. Not to mention many major press outlets will be there to cover the action. Fashion Week events also add a fun, unique view. It’s an aspirational side that consumers want to be a part of. So use that press coverage to your advantage! Include a range of beauties that will show off your hard work in the best way. It’s always more fun when everyone is included anyway.
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