How Fashion Brands Can Use Instagram to Boost Brand Engagement and Online Presence

Love it or hate it, social media has become the power tool of communication for many fashion brands to influence consumer spending and buying habits – if used correctly. Many brands have embraced social media by acquiring more fans, followers, likes and shares. How? Simply by sharing content that is creative and specifically targets their audience. Ultimately, online fashion brands that want to improve web presence and brand recognition in the market need to implement social media into their strategy (Bowen and Ozuem, 2016).

Brands are either part of the conversation or they’re not and as a result, they’re either part of the decision-making cycle or they’re absent from the heart, mind, and actions of the connected customer. Solis (2011a)

So how does fashion brands use social media to make sure they’re part of the decision-making cycle?


Choosing the most effective social media platform to increase brand engagement

Engagement with Brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest, and 84 times higher than Twitter (Brandwatch, 2016).

According to eMarketer (2016), 50% of brands are on Instagram, as a result, Instagram is the ‘King of Social’ with the highest engagement of 2.3% per follower as opposed to 0.2% engagement on Facebook. Engagement rates are crucial for fashion brands because it’s an excellent metric for brands to gauge as it takes into account consumer interactions and the number of followers. Brands are able to benchmark their performance against its competitors. Furthermore, engagement rates show that you as a brand are having meaningful communications with your target audience (Yang et al., 2016).


Top 200 Instagram brand channel accounts with the highest follower count: Fashion industry (51.5%). Source: (Mediakix, 2016)

Fashion brands that share content on Instagram are able to enjoy the benefits of being able to pull in a larger audience of 400m active users, versus Snapchat’s 100m. Additionally, Instagram also attracts a broader age range (Handley, 2016). It’s a no brainer, Instagram is the best platform to achieve high levels of engagement, especially when fashion brands rely on visuals!


Sharing creative content – What content works?

Chaffey and Smith (2013) explain that the first step to engaging a community of potential customers is sharing content. So a simple update on Instagram will not necessarily engage your customers to your brand. The key is to include links with each post, make it fun and creative and most importantly co-creating value between your fashion brand and your followers. Its important that fashion brands utilise the platform by learning what the target audience responds to thus creating an effective content mix.


  1. Making Instagram Shoppable



Zara and Topshop have both included product reference numbers and links attached in the bios when posting content to entice active users to purchase their products and as a result this may increase web traffic.

  1. Creating inspiration

Fashion brands have reaped the benefits of turning to socially sourced images of fans posting about their products, generating high community engagement. ASOS have a separate Instagram account ‘ASSEENONME’ using the #asseenonme to inspire its followers to engage with the brand and creates an opportunity for them to be featured on the page encouraging them to share their style.

  1. Behind the scenes

The new function ‘Instagram stories’ has this amazing juxtaposition that allows fashion brands to tell a story besides the ‘polished visuals’. It provides a more authentic experience as it enables fashion brands to post what goes on behind the scenes. This allows followers to get close and personal, giving them a perspective of life at the brand.

Read more about Instagram Stories and watch Giovanna Battaglias Instagram story of Tom Ford’s fashion show:

How Instagram stories is putting the see now in Fashion month.

  1. Inspired Influencer Outreach

Many fashion brands such as ASOS have a personal stylist team made up of successful fashion and beauty influencers. ASOS have strategically managed to get their brand in front of thousands of potential customers. Influencers usually appeal to many potential customers as they are perceived as genuine and are much more receptive to recommendations. This is crucial because in the new world of digital, WOM is one of the most valuable forms of marketing (Kozinets, De Valck, Wojnicki and WIlner, 2010).


  1. Framework of online engagement

Brodie et al. (2013) developed this model to reveal the emotional, cognitive and behavioural aspects of engagement:

(Click the image to read more: Consumer engagement in a virtual brand community: An exploratory analysis)

  • Emotional – Feelings of gratitude, sense of belonging to the group, thus highlighting the significance of the social aspect of consumer and brand engagement
  • Cognitive – Followers build value-laden relationships by sharing posts and their own experience with the brand
  • Behavioural – Supporting the brand if perceived as positive, however, negative expressions speak high volumes if the consumer is given misleading impression of the brand

A positive engagement depends on the content of the themes (shown in the diagram) and how it is perceived. The aim for fashion brands using Instagram is to build established relationships and possible relationships comprising cognitive, emotional and behavioural dimensions, that overall support brand and consumer engagement

Furthermore, despite the ways in which fashion brands are using Instagram to boost brand engagement, it is difficult to sell from due to the absent click-through mechanism. Therefore retailers that put time and effort into creating brand engagement may fall into the trap of simply replicating content simultaneously to other networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Brand marketers are beginning to question what is the ROI of social marketing?

Read more: Does “Liking” Lead to Loving? The Impact of Joining a Brand’s Social Network on Marketing Outcomes

The danger here is this platform could simply be a mere trend and as every company uses Instagram this social marketing strategy could quickly turn from unique to clichéd. Secondly, it can be quite easy to over modify a picture for a marketing campaign, however this may do more harm than good and appear to be obtrusive and clumsy.

Nevertheless, fashion and Instagram make a perfect fit as the industry relies heavily on visuals and graphics. Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has revolutionized the fashion industry from an exclusive one to becoming accessible to the public. Regular engagement through sharing content is the most effective way to increase the awareness of a brand and the story behind it. Sharing posts regularly helps Instagram users generate a greater interest for the brand, and increase their likeliness to engage with this further.







Bowen, G. and Ozuem, W. (2016). Competitive social media marketing strategies. 1st ed. Hershey, PA: Business Science Reference.

Brodie, R., Ilic, A., Juric, B. and Hollebeek, L. (2013). Consumer engagement in a virtual brand community: An exploratory analysis. Journal of Business Research, 66(1), pp.105-114.

Chaffey, Dave;Smith, PR. 2013., Emarketing Excellence. [online]. Routledge. Available from:<> 28 February 2017 (2016). Forbes Welcome. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 Feb. 2017].

Handley, L. (2016). What does Instagram Stories mean for brand engagement?. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 28 Feb. 2017].

John, L., Emrich, O., Gupta, S. and Norton, M. (2017). Does “Liking” Lead to Loving? The Impact of Joining a Brand’s Social Network on Marketing Outcomes. Journal of Marketing Research, 54(1), pp.144-155.

Kozinets, R.V., De Valck, K., Wojnicki, A.C. and Wilner, S.J., 2010. Networked narratives: Understanding word-of-mouth marketing in online communities. Journal of marketing, 74(2), pp.71-89.

Mediakix | Influencer Marketing Agency. (2016). Instagram Engagement Rates Of The World’s Best Brands. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 Feb. 2017].

Solis, B. (2011). 16 Quotes Visualized from The End of Business as Usual – Brian Solis. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 Feb. 2017].

Yang, S., Lin, S., Carlson, J. and Ross, W. (2016). Brand engagement on social media: will firms’ social media efforts influence search engine advertising effectiveness?. Journal of Marketing Management, 32(5-6), pp.526-557.

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