5 Things You May Have Missed This Week

By Georgia Buchanan

1. Instagram’s New Algorithm

You’ve probably heard, but Instagram changed its news feed algorithm this week, and everyone seems to have lost their minds over it. The social media giant is saying that it is in order to test out a more personalised feed, to ensure that its users are seeing the posts that they’ll care about most. On average, we apparently missed 70% of posts on our feed with the old algorithm, so they say this change is to improve our user experience. “Our goal is to show people more of the content they want to see, including content from businesses” says a spokesperson for the app.

However! The furore following the announcement seems to contradict this, with everyone seeming to be terrified of their posts not being seen. But I think, on the whole, most people won’t be able to tell the difference. It’ll be the brands that are going to really feel the effects. Up until this point, Instagram has been unquestionably the most fruitful platform for fashion labels in the promotion and marketing of their products. Way ahead of Facebook, Pinterest and the rest, according to Digiday. With the new algorithm, however, it is unlikely that their posts will make the cut for many users’ top ‘must-see images’. Because really, how often do you like/comment on Topshop’s posts? In comparison to the posts of the blogger you follow who includes Topshop’s products in her far more relatable and aesthetically pleasing images? Exactly. This means that brands will have to rely even more heavily upon influencers posting on their behalf. Alternatively, they may have to turn to paid posts to maintain their current levels of engagement. Either way - it’s going to cost them.

As a result of the fear-mongering spreading over the internet, a vast number of brands, influencers and even ‘average joe’ users have been posting a “Turn on notifications here ^” image to their page in a desperate attempt to still be seen by their followers. I personally think this is a bit of an over-reaction on many people’s parts, but it does give an excellent insight into just how huge an influence Instagram now has on people’s lives; brands/influencers/average joes alike. The app has undeniably reshaped the way in which the fashion industry works today; affecting fashion show structures and making model castings almost futile, and therefore I question why Instagram are messing with a good thing. Everyone loves Instagram as it is; it serves its purpose better than any other social media platform out there today, and this new change may well drive influencers to rely more heavily on other platforms again, like blogs and Twitter. Is this move purely down to monetisation? It seems so, but maybe that’s me being cynical. And maybe we’ll all grow to love the new layout and wonder why they didn’t change it sooner, like we’ve done so many times in the past with Facebook layout changes.

Eva Chen, Instagram’s head of fashion partnerships, is of course on Team ‘New Algorithm’, taking to her page yesterday to post “! Thoughts on the meme of the day ! : The interwebs is exploding with people urging other people to turn on post notifications… take it from me, unless you are dying for up-to-the-nanosecond posts about my nailpolish whims, you don’t need to turn it on tomorrow”. Are you a fan? Or are you shouting at your iPhone screen saying ‘Whyyyyy Instagram, whyyy?”! I can’t decide.
 

2. Sephora x Kik

Sephora, forever at the forefront of the latest tech and social media developments, has launched on popular US messaging app, Kik. Successfully directing many of their avid Snapchat followers across to the alternative social platform, the beauty giant has already gathered an impressive following on Kik. By using a chatbot, rather than humans to feed its communications, the brand can interact one on one with the consumer, finding out what their interests are and what they want to see/read/learn about. For example, “Hi Rachel, welcome to Sephora! Do you want to take a short quiz so we can get to know you?” which is followed by prompts that ask you what sort of tips you’d like to receive and which make up brands you prefer, etc. As a result of this quiz, the chatbot can serve up relevant content including “how-to” videos and product reviews. From contouring to manicure techniques, Sephora’s got you covered.

This is a savvy move from Sephora who, despite already having a huge Snapchat fanbase, can definitely benefit from broadening their consumer demographic with a strong presence on the 275 million-follower-strong Kik. The core market is Generation Z, who tend to spend upwards of half an hour per session on this particular app; a large window of opportunity for Sephora to turn their users into paying customers by including product suggestions that are shoppable within the app via a Sephora site pop-up.

Chris Messina, developer experience lead at Uber, champions the use of bots, believing that beyond the human-to-human dialogue, it’s bots that enable “conversational commerce” to occur at sale. Having said that, Sephora’s interactions are currently fairly basic; the answers are clearly automated and there is a lack of “intelligent” interaction. Messina doesn’t see this as a problem for long though, stating: “Computer-driven bots will become more human-feeling, to the point where the user can’t detect the difference, and will interact with either human agent or computer bot in roughly the same interaction paradigm.”
 

3. The Summit’s Two Grand Finales!

With our London Summit just around the corner, I thought I’d flag up our two closing presentations for Days 1 and 2, in case you’d missed them. With two days of brilliant content from an amazing variety of speakers, we had to be sure to conclude each day with a worthy discussion. And that we have…

Day 1: “Engineering an Image to Create Cultural Chaos” with Drew Elliot, Chief Creative Officer at PAPER Communications. We are absolutely buzzing to have Drew joining us for our inaugural summit this month, sharing with us the strategy behind none other than THAT Kim Kardashian cover. Want to know how to #BreakTheInternet? This talk is for you. Drew will be discussing what brands really need to be doing to gain a digital presence in what is now a fairly saturated market; from influencers and storytelling to social conversation, you can learn the tools to start a total digital domino effect.

Day 2: “The Trajectory of Fashion Communication from ‘Sittings’ to ‘Selfies’, Polaroid to Periscope, Catwalk to Content and Beyond” with Robin Derrick, Global Creative Director, Spring Studios. Robin spent 19 years at British Vogue, also working on Vogue’s German, Russian, Spanish an Japanese editions and was responsible, amongst other things, for the visual handprint of the magazine and for taking it digitally into the 21st century. During these years he also co-edited three photography books, including Unseen Vogue: The Secret History Of Fashion Photography, and People in Vogue: A Century of Portrait Photography, as well as showing his own work. In addition to this, Robin worked as Creative Director at Giorgio Armani simultaneously. He left Vogue to join Spring Studios 4 years ago and now is coming to FashTech’s inaugural London Summit to share his vast experience and knowledge with us! To ensure you get a seat for this unmissable talk, buy your ticket now: http://www.fashtech-summit.com/tickets/

 

4. Men’s Fashion Subcultures: The Facebook Effect

We’re all aware of the latest, most fashionable and functional ways to shop; the likes of eBay, Etsy, Depop, Grailed, and social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Whilst these started mostly as homes for second-hand retail, Facebook groups are starting to break out from these boundaries to become genuine, active communities.

Between the likes of Wavey Garms, The Basement, Yeezy Talk, Yohji Yamamoto (to name a few), menswear’s new digital frontier has arrived. These virtual subcultures are interacting with one another from all around the globe, getting advice, selling clothes and sharing ideas. They are a hotspot for innovation and creativity, and they are booming. With over 45,000 members, The Basement is the biggest and best community for this sort of interaction, even leading to a pop-up shop IRL last year. There’s a lot more to these groups than just clothes, but the initial shared interest in fashion can help to kick start everything that follows; communication, ideas, innovations, relationships, personal development. And in these cases, primarily for boys and men. Megan Munro, style editor for Complex UK and a member of groups like The Basement and Supreme Talk since the early days, explains why these communities seem to be very male-dominated: “I think that boys are often criticised for asking for opinions on things like clothes, girls, and personal issue, and these groups have become somewhere that they feel comfortable to do this”.

There’s obviously downsides, as with most things in this world. The threat of online ‘banter’, bullying, homophobia, racism and misogyny that comes with nearly all online forums is fairly inescapable, and apparently ensuring that The Basement remains a “safe, secure marketplace with no discrimination” is pretty much a full-time job. It’s also been argued that the internet and the ease and immediacy in which we can gain information nowadays has been the undoing of subculture as we know it, devaluing meaningful movements and making everything too accessible. However, the passion and creativity sparking these movements hasn’t waned or withered; if anything these forums are inspiring more ideas, more concepts, more movements. Just in a more virtual way. Some may argue that this online existence can’t compare to meeting face to face, brainstorming ideas and creating fashions, but you’ve got to adapt to the times, and in today’s society, creating something through the powers of Facebook instead of IRL just means you can reach a hell of a lot more people in a lot less time.
 

5. Depop Hits America

This week Vogue USA wrote a piece on why Depop, the buzziest e-commerce app in the UK, just might change the way you shop. And with Nick Lisher, VP Growth & Marketing at Depop, on our “Retailers won’t be the only ones retailing” panel, we can’t help but agree!

With everything from Dita Von Teese lingerie to Manolo Blohnik mules, America is starting to catch on to why us Brits are so obsessed with Depop. Founded five years ago, and combining the charm of Etsy with the familiar interface of Instagram, the app quickly became a shopping oasis for millennials. With the option to ‘like’ items, message other users to barter on prices, and of course post your own pieces, it’s a perfect playground for fashion-hungry consumers. You can follow friends, celebrities and strangers; anyone whose posts you don’t want to miss. So essentially it’s Instagram, but all about the products. “The community aspect and the interface lets us stand out between our competitors,” says Depop’s PR Director James Meredith. “I think we have the right product and product that people want to see, especially the younger generation.”

It definitely seems to be working. Just last year Depop raised eight million dollars attempting to break into the United States market. They’ve also reeled in some huge ‘Influencer’ names like Leandra Medina and Chiara Ferragni, which is invaluable for growth. They can even boast the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, the retired American pro basketball player, amongst their user database. For Meredith, however, the real appeal is in the personal touch: “Shaq is on! He’s cool. Every single photo is a selfie. He’s selling old magazines and anything he’s been in. Apparently when you buy something from him he gives you a call.” Now that is pretty cool customer service.


NEW PARTNERSHIP ANNOUNCEMENT

FashTech x Jing Daily

FashTech are thrilled to announce a new media partnership with the Chinese luxury culture publication, Jing Daily. Launched in 2009, Jing Daily is the leading digital publication on luxury consumer trends in China. Publishing up-to-the-minute news updates, reports on key trends, insights from leading industry figures, and in-depth analysis on this vitally important market, we see a collaboration between FashTech and Jing Daily as a perfect fit.