Social media has radically changed the way consumers interact with brands, and now businesses are having to almost entirely rewrite their marketing strategies. Reflecting upon the marketing studies I undertook this year under the light of our hyper-digitalised times, the bulk of our dense subject readings (emphasis on bulk) now appear almost wholly obsolete. Of course, some concepts are more enduring than others—such is the case with "the medium is the message"—but many are simply no longer compatible with the transformed way consumers are interacting with brands.
Thus, many businesses are struggling to stay afloat in a sea of new technology, having abandoned the aged and battered ship christened Traditional Marketing.
It’s a struggle to tread water, but the few who do are being noticed: the pioneers of new marketing.
Social media is free and accessible: a golden opportunity for new businesses to hit the ground running like they’ve never had before. Lady Petrova of Melbourne swears by social media as key to the success of her eponymous fashion business.
With social media as the cornerstone of her marketing strategy, Petrova has eschewed the outdated four P’s (product, place, price and promotion) and diligently crafted a framework of her own, which she teaches within her School of Fabulousness, which I had the pleasure to attend one afternoon.
Sitting in on her Social Media Socialite class, I mused that if, at my university, we were to enter our lecture studios to find cupcakes waiting upon our desks draped with purple-unicorn fabric—the lecturer dressed in a pink lacy pencil dress and a jacket that looked like a toddler had at it with a rainbow of textas—I’d be a whole lot more attentive and probably pulling higher grades.
Rather than the four P’s, Petrova explains to us the four C’s: Creating, Curating, Connecting and Culture. She tells us the most important consideration is understanding our audience: hers she knows down to the teeniest detail. (The Lady Petrova customer adores bright colours, doing her nails, harajuku, the ‘90s, owns or wants a cat, and would prefer to be at home watching a movie and dreaming dreams on a Friday night rather than hitting the clubs.) It makes sense to think more deeply about the people we're creating the content for.
An instagram account truly is a piece of art. Or perhaps more accurately: a thoughtfully-curated gallery.
The Lady Petrova instagram account has a definitive style, which attracts followers, as does its consequent reliability.
What does the future hold? Petrova predicts video will only become more prominent online (as will autoplay, I predict). And she’s not alone in believing mobile phones are increasingly becoming our reflex medium for online browsing and shopping.
From fashion boutiques to multi-billion dollar businesses, the rules for social media marketing are the same. It seems this much is true speaking to West Elm Chapel Street’s delightful Social Media Coordinator, Bridget Wald. Both highly-visual companies—beautiful aesthetics being a core selling-point for their products—they choose to devote most of their social media efforts to Instagram.
While these Instagram accounts are key to the respective businesses’ marketing strategy, selling product is not the central purpose. Rather, the accounts exist to inspire: to establish a brand image, or rather, a brand world, and invite consumers to discover it.
There’s been a lot of criticism shot at social media of late, but—as many people have pointed out—social media is not an evil thing. It’s a different thing and different can be scary, but like most social systems it is not inherently evil: it holds the capacity for evil, but also for good. Something beautiful I took away from the School of Fabulousness is that—talking about Instagram particularly—the more love you send out, the more you get back. Petrova was dumbfounded as to why some businesses, big or small, follow a grand total of zero other accounts. Social media offers opportunities to make connections that can lead to exciting collaboration.
"I think it's interesting what kind of relationships can be built through social media. It can really open up possibilities and allow you to have genuine relationships with people," says Bridget Wald.
Instagram is a space in which the barriers between consumers and businesses are more relaxed than ever before: where inspiration is shared, social bonds are formed and creativity is sparked. ✨