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Fast-fashion retailers slow down to engage with customers

By Crosby Noricks, cnoricks@reddoor.biz

Fast-fashion retailers provide shoppers with the latest trends that, in many cases, are in one minute and out the next. So if the customer experience changes so frequently, how do brands form meaningful relationships?

The answer lies not in having merchandising tunnel vision, or in vague brand statements, but by creating a community that connects patrons with the brand and with each other, and social networks have staked a modern claim in fostering these relationships. Once retailers fulfill their shoppers’ latest fashion craving, the next step is to keep them involved (and shopping!) through meaningful, one-on-one conversations, no matter the season or sale. Facebook and Twitter both provide real-time engagement opportunities that can extend brand affinity, word-of-mouth and yes, even increased purchases away from the storefront, away from the brand website -- right where shoppers are spending the majority of their online time. Here are five tips that fast fashion retailers can do to better amplify customer interaction through social media:

1) Offer exclusive “Social Media Only” promotions
Sharing special offers exclusively for those individuals that follow a particular outlet’s brand increases shopper’s desire to pay attention to that brand’s Facebook or Twitter updates. Furthermore, tracking the ROI of social initiatives can be easily done through coupons and social media sales -- just wait until that LBD (little black dress) sells out an hour after you post a Twitter sneak sale!

2) Share accolades
Today’s mass market culture inundates young women with celebrity style and celebrity stylists. Take advantage of traditional PR for social media content. For example, Charlotte Russe’s skinny jeans were recently featured in Seventeen and that led to a conversation on Facebook about the skinny jean trend. Tying this print feature into a current denim promotion just fed the fashion fire.

3) Play games
Hosting contests or polls via Facebook, Twitter and similar sites is an effective strategy to engage with customers and increase brand awareness in a fun way. It allows fans to become excited about the brand and will keep shoppers coming back. For example, Charlotte Russe hosts a weekly "play fashion stylist" poll that allows followers to share their preferences by pairing one clothing item with another, such as a particular set of shoes with a certain dress. Posing questions gives fans a platform to voice what they like or don't like about current trends.

4) Showcase new arrivals
Inform customers when new merchandise is available whether it’s in-store or online. Whenever possible, raise interest by “leaking” new looks through social first. Charlotte Russe shares behind the scenes photos of fashion shoots for upcoming styles and builds conversation around these sneak peeks. Nowadays, more and more shoppers are conducting the majority of purchases online. By giving them a head’s up on new arrivals via social network pages, a store increases their chances getting their new looks to shoppers through social media sharing and word of mouth, upping the ante for at higher sales.

5) Compliment other marketing programs
While a social media strategy is a phenomenal way to interact with fans and build a brand, it’s also important for retailers to create one that compliments other programs in place such as email marketing. Brands should also promote social programs in-store -- at point-of-sale, on receipts, even on shopping bags. Make it impossible for shoppers to miss out on all the goods you have to offer them through your social pages.

Since fast fashion means one day it's in and the next it's out, retailers must perform the delicate act of keeping up with key trends while, at the same time, slowing down to connect personally with shoppers. A high-engagement social media strategy allows retailers to keep customers front and center by formulating a connection that helps drive word-of-mouth and repeat purchases. While a customer’s last purchase might be “so last year,” these platforms are crucial all season long.

Crosby Noricks is the senior strategist of Social Media for Red Door Interactive, an Internet presence management firm with offices in San Diego and Denver that helps organizations profit from their web initiatives. Clients include Charlotte Russe, Cricket Communications, Garden Fresh Corp, California Avocado Commission, Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill and PETCO. She can be reached at cnoricks@reddoor.biz.

© 2014