SXSW report: Fashion and beauty brands are still gaga for Instagram

Digiday is at SXSW giving you the latest industry news out of the festival at Austin, Texas. More from the series →

Where the platforms go, the brands will follow — especially when the platform is Instagram.

Fashion and beauty companies know that, in order to keep up, they need to be active across a wide breadth of social media accounts. Brands that never had digital teams are investing in new talent, while those that had just one or two social media managers are creating dedicated teams focused on everything from Instagram Live to Pinterest.

However, by and large, Instagram — with its sleek filters, clean aesthetic and altogether aspirational nature — still reigns supreme in the fashion industry, especially now that Stories and Live make it a one-stop shop. We talked to attendees of SXSW’s Decoded Fashion and Create & Cultivate events to learn about what social media platforms excite them most. Their comments have been lightly edited for clarity.

Rosi Sanchez, social media strategist at Fossil
Instagram is always a priority for us. We have more reach and a larger new follower group there, so it leads to more conversions. Until we get to 1.5 million or 2 million followers, it’s going to be our number one priority. We really want to get there, because that’s where we see ourselves, as an established brand.

I feel like we haven’t owned Instagram Stories as much as we would like to. We see it as more content, another channel. Currently we’re just using it for PR events, any HR moments — we really even haven’t gotten familiar with it. But with Instagram Stories, we stopped using Snapchat. The following is already there — we’re seeing 3,000 views on Snapchat versus 70,000 or 90,000 on Instagram Stories.

Carlie Lawrence, head of social media at Shopbop
Instagram is our focus. People at our company are older, and they don’t know how to use Snapchat, so it’s a harder argument to have to be creating Snapchat content. Snapchat is still in a very personal place, like Instagram was three or four years ago. Those that are on Snapchat are like the Everlanes of the world, who are incredibly transparent and were really built there. I would only want to do something [on Snapchat] if it feels authentic to the customer, and I don’t think the time is right for it to be the focus now. Instagram Stories is much more relatable, in the moment, as it happens, unpolished and unfiltered. We share things that our team is doing and things that are happening in the office.

Elizabeth McNamara, director of social media at Murad
I’m a one-woman show. Anything involving Instagram is something we’re focusing on. Instagram Stories I treat personally as an extension of Snapchat. It’s just another way for brands to connect with people. As far as Instagram Live, I have mixed feelings. I prefer Facebook Live. [Instagram Stories] is just not up to par with Facebook’s live streaming.

Chira Dan, head of content at L’Oréal USA
Our strategy on social has been much more about finding the right channels where our consumers are. We have a very big focus on Instagram, for example, which is such an inspiration social network. We are now starting to refocus on Facebook, and we’re also looking at Snapchat and how to continue with it while still doing Instagram Stories. For us, it’s more about looking at the right channel strategy and where our consumer is, because she might want to consume different media in different ways. With beauty, we found that Snapchat is a very different communication channel than Instagram, because you can go into a lot more detail on how to get a look.

Brooke Brinkman, vp of marketing and communications at Simon G. Jewelry
Simon G., being that it’s jewelry, is very visual. It’s hard to tell a story without an image of the piece, so Instagram and Pinterest are the two platforms we focus on heavily. We want to allow customers to see those pieces in lifestyle settings so they can start envisioning how the brand might fit with their personality and lifestyle. We launched on Snapchat about a year ago. While it’s not a strong focus, we always try to give little peeks behind the scenes at events we’re doing and at our red carpets.

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