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Brand Content Strategy for the TikTok Age
FSW examines the mercurial nature of omnichannel content and how fashion and luxury brands can stay nimble and authentic across channels now and into the future.
Bad content may be costing consumer brands upwards of $90 billion a year.
The extent to which fashion and luxury brands find it hard to deal with the dynamic, constantly shifting nature of content and its sister commerce across channels is an issue—and an expensive one at that.
When it comes to content, the name of the game is flexibility. Fashion and luxury brands need to have a strategy in place for content that allows them to be nimble, creative, and prepared for anything.
Content is a product. Every day, content creators are changing the world of content and commerce one authentic post at a time. Fashion and luxury brands that are not attuned to this radically different, community-driven approach to shopping and content will be left behind.
This is the reality check that a horde of e-commerce and social marketing strategists like Joanna Williams, CEO of Moore Collective, keep preaching to brands. These strategists are not wrong. The world of media and content is rapidly changing in this age of always-on media glutted with the chaos of user-generated content (UGC) and brand content.
The problem with fashion and luxury content is not the advice, the content, or even the platforms. It’s the brands. The extent to which many fashion and luxury brands fail to (or refuse to) understand how to deal with the dynamic, constantly shifting nature of content and its sister commerce across channels is increasingly an issue—and an expensive one at that. Big brands like the Guccis and Louis Vuittons of the world can afford to publicly experiment with different types of content until they find the right channel mix. However, this is more of a challenge for small- to mid-range brands that may have smaller teams devoted to content or may lack the budget or internal support mechanisms to spend more money than they already do on content.
How do you craft a fashion or luxury brand content strategy in the age of TikTok?
The Tricky World of Fashion Brand Content
When content does not measure up to pre-established KPIs or other internal success measures, the impulse is to move away from that type of content or start over. This is why you see so many design-focused fashion and luxury brand website “refreshes” like the recent Burberry.com overhaul that may or may not go to the root of the content problem, as we recently explored.
Reading advice on e-commerce or digital marketing strategy frequently causes two often overlapping approaches within fashion and luxury brands. They either:
Take an additive approach to address a presumed content gap, either through adding new tech tools, third-party agency support, or building out new internal team capabilities to create and manage content for new channels or new types of content
Focus on short-term, reactionary product marketing-focused tactics rather than investing in more technology-agnostic brand content strategies that can flex, adapt, and scale over time
Most fashion and luxury brands spread content creation and management responsibilities across multiple internal functional areas, which results in different, siloed teams in charge of creating and managing content within the same channels and utilizing different tech tools to do what is essentially the same function. Because many brands also rely on external agencies to design and promote advertising and marketing content, trying to size or audit omnichannel brand content and, in turn, content spend becomes increasingly complicated.
Before a fashion or luxury brand tries to assess and fix its approach to content, it is important to determine how much it is spending on content, what teams are managing content, and how it is currently tracking and measuring content distribution and performance across channels.
Assessing Fashion Brand Content Spend
According to the Marketing Insider Group, bad content may be costing consumer brands upwards of $90 billion a year. That is an expensive silent problem. Bad content not only affects how consumers perceive your brand and erodes trust (think last year’s Balenciaga scandal) but it also bleeds your budget in ways your brand may find harder to track.
How does a fashion or luxury brand even assess how much it is spending on content and content-related tools, teams, and resources across channels?
Some questions to ask when trying to determine the overall cost of content within your organization:
Where is all your external and internal content? How many channels do you use?
Who are your users, how do they shop, and how do they interact with your content?
Which teams and how many people are responsible for planning, creating, and managing content?
What tools do these teams use to monitor and manage content and content-related data and assets, including product sales, customer data, content analytics, and other data? For instance, how many content management systems (CMSs) or customer retention marketing (CRM) tools is your brand using to manage content across or within channels?
What are your brand’s current and future state goals, priorities, and requirements for content across channels?
Of course, putting a price on content spend is only the beginning of the conversation when it comes to optimizing fashion and luxury brand content across channels. To stay ahead of the game in today’s content market, brands need to be nimble, creative, and authentic to set themselves apart from the competition, a category that can include consumers themselves when it comes to digital content.
Breaking Down Fashion Content Authenticity
Social media strategists like to talk a lot about authenticity as a differentiator when it comes to content. The realness factor is a key reason individual creators and user-generated content (UGC) have such power. UGC content has a refreshing spontaneity and relatability that brands find hard to replicate. Self-created celebrities like TikTok star Charli D’Amelio or YouTuber MrBeast have cult followings because they are masters of harnessing the power of their own unique voice and staying consistent with it.
Fashion’s response to social media celebrities and celebrities in general is essentially the same as most content, as noted above. Many brands adopt an additive, rather than fully integrated, approach to using celebrities and influencers and hope that stars or new voices either wearing their product or talking about it will produce better content performance. And sometimes it does, as with the wild success any brand will have on TikTok if they feature a K-pop star.
But, virality is an of-the-moment tactic and does not necessarily teach you anything about longer-term channel strategies that will translate viewers into brand consumers. Social media is mercurial. People want authenticity and something new and different.
Fashion and luxury brands that go outside the traditional broadcast marketing approach and bring authenticity to their content across channels generally reap the rewards. Think Jacquemus’s AI-generated handbag cars.
Yet it’s sometimes hard to identify why certain content campaigns work and others don’t. What does brand content authenticity mean?
Authenticity means your brand invests in:
A distinct, instantly recognizable brand vision and value proposition at every consumer touchpoint
Authentic brand storytelling that conveys your brand DNA and unique product offerings AND connects with consumer values and needs
Clear, inclusive, and accessible brand copy and visual assets that distinguish, elevate, and contextualize your brand and its products
A holistic, data-driven behind-the-scenes content strategy that marries your brand vision with consumer needs and that drives purposeful, targeted, and measurable content across channels
Fashion and luxury brands that want to stay relevant and successfully navigate content for the future need to stop to assess the current state of their brand content and content spend. They then need to build a holistic content strategy tailored to their vision, their teams, their audiences, and their technology- and platform-agnostic content that can flex and evolve over time, empowering their brand messaging, products, and content across touchpoints.
All of that said, even if your fashion or luxury brand has a strong content strategy, it does not guarantee that your content will have the impact you want at the point of content creation and implementation. Achieving content effectiveness for fashion and luxury-savvy consumers is a mixture of studying your audiences channel by channel and adopting a test-and-learn approach to your content to gather information and learn from it.
Content Effectiveness and the Mercurial Future of Fashion Content
No one-size-fits-all approach to brand content exists, especially on constantly evolving social media platforms. What works on a mostly photo-heavy app like Instagram does not work on a video-centric platform like TikTok, and what works for one brand on the same platform may bomb for another.
Gucci takes a Gen Z-focused approach to TikTok with a heavy focus on celebrities, like K-pop stars and Chinese actor and singer Xiao Zhan and the brand continues to invest in its Roblox world. On the other hand, brands like Moncler take a variegated approach, including beautifully rendered, on-brand animations like Murat Yildirim’s illustrated video of the Moncler x adidas collaboration.
All the attention on TikTok, particularly with the recent launch of the TikTok shop, is set to change the game when it comes to creator-led commerce. As Joanna Williams recently noted, the “TikTok Shop is doing an estimated $70M in revenue every week in America. Not bad for a program that officially launched late September.”
Only time will determine the full impact of the disruption of creator-led brands and in what specific ways they will shake up the universe of traditional fashion and luxury brands.
Different audiences on different platforms with unique rules, content features, and functionality result in vastly different content outcomes and measures of success. But, brands do not necessarily know at the outset of a new platform what will resonate with consumers and what will not. It takes time, a test-and-learn approach, and a regular stream of creative content.
When it comes to content, the name of the game is flexibility. Fashion and luxury brands need to have a strategy in place that allows them to be nimble, creative, and prepared to create content for new platforms and for new ways of interacting with consumers even on existing platforms.
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