Social Media, A Driver for Modern SME Strategy - Jacopo Rosso Ciufoli
Degree: BSc Business Studies
Cass Business School
Title: Social Media: A Driver for Modern Strategy – how its use can
change the strategic mind-set and managerial behaviour of
an SME in the fashion industry
Name: Jacopo Rosso Ciufoli
Supervisor’s name: Dr Sven Molner
Submission date: 7th April 2016
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"I certify that I have complied with the guidelines on plagiarism
outlined in the Course Handbook in the production of this dissertation and
that it is my own, unaided work".
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I would like to thank Yu.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction 1.0 ........................................................................................................................ 6
Scope of Research 1.1 ............................................................................................................... 8
2.1 Institutional logics and strategy.................................................................................9
2.2 Virtual organisations, connectivity and the digital economy ................................. 10
2.3 Social media............................................................................................................ 11
2.4 Branding, customer engagement and relationship management.......................... 12
2.5 Modern strategic thinking in the fashion industry ................................................. 13
Data and Methodology
3.1 Qualitative research approach................................................................................ 14
3.2 Case study: Animapop – The Perfect Reversible Dress .......................................... 14
3.3 Quantitative data.................................................................................................... 16
3.3.1 Primary sources........................................................................................... 16
3.3.2 Analytics from social media campaigns ...................................................... 16
3.3.3 Sales figures for Animapop collections ....................................................... 18
4.1 Contrasting institutional logics ............................................................................... 19
4.1.1 The traditional logic ................................................................................... 19
4.1.2 The modern logic........................................................................................ 20
4.2 The traditional logic’s barriers to social media acceptance ................................... 21
4.3 Causes for debate ................................................................................................... 21
4.4 The importance of customer relationship management........................................ 22
4.5 Social media strategy, combining the conflicting logics......................................... 22
4.6 Animapop’s social media marketing campaigns..................................................... 23
4.6.1 Prompting customer engagement ............................................................. 23
4.7 Raising brand identity and awareness.................................................................... 25
4.8 Social media endorsement deals............................................................................ 25
4.8.1 DJ Miss FTV campaign ................................................................................ 25
4.9 Opening to new markets using social media.......................................................... 28
4.9.1 United States.............................................................................................. 28
4.9.2 Asia............................................................................................................. 29
4.10 The traditional logic’s change in mind-set.............................................................. 30
5.0 Discussion ............................................................................................................... 32
5.1 Key factors to implement a successful social media strategy in the fashion
industry ................................................................................................................................ 33
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6.0 Conclusion............................................................................................................... 34
Appendix 1 ........................................................Animapop 2014 Sales in EU for Collection #1
Appendix 2 ..................................................... Animapop 2014 Sales in Italy for Collection #1
Appendix 3 ........................................................ Animapop Sales for the IV trimester of 2015
Appendix 4 ………….. ............……………….Animapop Sales for 2016, data for USA and HK sales
Appendix 5..................................Animapop Sales for 2016, total items sold and gross profit
Appendix 6 ..................................................................Sample Facebook data for video views
Appendix 7 .......................................................DJ Miss FTV Endorsement Campaign, post #2
Appendix 8 ............Fashion blogger requests, screenshots from Animapop’s Facebook page
Appendix 9 .................... Customer enquiries, screenshots from Animapop’s Facebook page
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This research will assess how the use of social media can contribute to the transformation of a
company’s strategy and institutional logic. An Italian womenswear fashion brand has been used as a
case study and base for a broader analysis useful for SMEs in the fashion industry. This brand has
rapidly grown, in under three years, from a startup phase in 2014 to global sales made throughout
three continents. Positive performance on store mannequins has increased its customer base. The
paper’s Findings result from observations of the interactions between the brand’s prevailing internal
and contrasting institutional logics. Namely the traditional and modern logics. The first one being a
classic approach to fashion retailing in which the company produces the dresses, hand them out to the
sales force who then distributes them to the stores. In contrast, the modern approach is more dynamic
and fast paced, focusing on a rapid and disruptive market presence.
With modern and pop designs, the brand’s dresses mainly attract young women who regularly use
social media networking. The brand’s social media strategy has been observed to analyse if its
implementation has had an impact on the managerial behaviour of its managers. With the assistance
of current available literature, this analysis has been addressed in more general terms for all SMEs
willing to implement a social media strategy. As a current topic of research and debate, there are no
definitive nor universal answers which can apply to every individual SME. However, this research and
numerous academics have found positive results regarding social media. These suggest a social media
strategy can be a mean to change managerial and strategic mind-set of an SME. Nonetheless, it can
contribute positive results on both productivity and strategy. These conclusions have been made with
a qualitative approach matched to analysis and interpretation of qualitative data such as sales results
and social media analytics
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The digitalization of companies in the 21st
century has become increasingly more popular and their use
of internet and social media networks has developed into a relevant part of their business strategy
(Öztamur and Karakadılar, 2014). While these social media strategies have been thoroughly analysed
for large firms, fewer attention has been placed on identifying its benefits for Small and Medium
Enterprises (SMEs). This research paper aims to identify said benefits while displaying the way in which
they can alter the managerial actions and strategy of a firm in the fashion industry.
Entry barriers for the fashion industry are normally quite high (Bartlett, Cole and Rocamora, 2013).
Manufacturers, small and medium sized entrepreneurs especially, need to stay ahead of competition
in a crowded fish net quivering to find space. Such a crude metaphor should not have to apply to the
stylish world of fashion yet the current industry scenario brings firms to either keep the time’s tempo
or stay behind being caught in the ‘net’ with the rest of the firms.
Organisations are increasingly expected to be truly ‘virtual’. In other terms, one which is independent
from time and space boundaries (Rich 2016). Customers now demand constant attention given the
assumption that someone, somewhere, will be reachable and able to assist them at anytime.
The fashion industry, unlike most, requires companies to be highly flexible and ready to identify the
next trend. Its fast moving nature has granted the global clothing business a steady growth and positive
prospects (Keller et al., 2014).
Consumers in this industry are driven by factors including social needs, self-image projection and social
status (Choi, 2014). This notion can be associated to the way these consumers act on social media and
social networks. Much alike their purchasing drivers for a dress, on these internet-based platforms,
social media users seek self-image projection, peer approval and displaying social status (Piskorski,
Companies who are already well affirmed in an industry could grant themselves the luxury of
neglecting some of the social platforms’ business benefits and potentialities. Yet for a significant
portion of globally renowned fashion brands, this assumption does not hold true. The most popular
clothing brands on Facebook have likes in the millions with Converse topping the list with over 37
million likes (Socialbakers.com, 2016). On the same note, all ten clothing brands1
present in Forbes’
list of the World’s Most Valuable Brands of 2015 have official social media accounts attracting likes
and followers in the millions (Forbes.com, 2015). If the industry’s ‘big players’ are using them, yet not
Louis Vuitton, Nike, H&M, Gucci, Hermes, Zara, Prada, Adidas, Chanel, Ralph Lauren in order of appearance.
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all SMEs seem to fully embrace social media marketing; largely due to the constant innovations
surrounding it which are troublesome to predict. General trends suggest a steadily increasing focus on
online and social media advertising; Facebook alone claims to have as many as 3 million active
advertisers on its website (Facebook.com, 2016).
The steady increase in online users, and social media users for that matter, reveals a ‘world’ and
platforms that companies can use as a launching pad to reach out to a wider range of potential
customers. Social media should not be considered as an opportunity cost but rather a complementary
operation. It should not take over the importance of production factors yet it can most definitely boost
production and sales figures.
To satisfy a highly demanding customer base, the company has to establish a set of goals, have a shared
vision and a clear, known to all, company culture. Often, smaller firms as the one observed throughout
this paper, do not have highly formalised operations. Decisions at times can come simply from the
owner’s gut instinct. An instinct, or vision, not necessarily shared by all parties involved in the business.
This scenario gives birth to contrasting institutional logics that fight against each other to gain sole
The rules of this industry’s “business game” are not set in stone leaving this market with a strong
appetite for disruptive innovations. Yet, given the industry’s fast-paced nature even such innovations
can burn fast.
With a context such as the one presented, in the early stages of the 21st century, arguably the richest
in technological improvements, it is necessary for SMEs operating in the fashion industry to mutate or
rather adapt their operations. This can only result from a radical change in the strategic mind-set of a
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1.1 Scope of Research
The purpose of this research is to observe how current technologies and trends are shaping the 21st
century small and medium sized firms, more specifically in the fashion industry. As of 2016, the items
under production are intended, in strong part, for the Millennial generation. These are people who,
supposedly, hold knowledge regarding the internet, Web 2.0 tools, and, this century’s favourite, social
media. Companies can no longer avoid being part of the high-speed train that is the online ‘social’
community. Surely, this argument holds more value for a startup or an SME. The case study will analyse
Animapop, which theoretically speaking is a startup brand. At least it has been so for its first year of
existence when its producers and investors shared scepticism regarding the product’s success.
Revenues have well surpassed one million Euros, which serves as a criterion to rank a firm above the
startup phase. Throughout this paper, terms social media and social network will be used to relate to
online, hence, internet based, platforms allowing user interaction. I am currently directly involved in
the company’s operations and have lived the dynamics presented throughout this paper. Thus, the
focus of the analysis and the results expressed in the Findings, will be based on observations made by
an individual holding contextual knowledge of the case.
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2.0 Literature Review
Modern brands, across different industries, tend to embrace technology and implement a social media
strategy. Depending on factors including, among others, their industry; management team and
competition (Tsimonis and Dimitriadis, 2014) (Pihl, 2014). Fashion reflects the change in aesthetic,
economic, political, cultural, and social life (Čiarnienė and Vienažindienė, 2014). Hence, these elements
are crucial to analyse a fashion SME’s strategy and understand the market in which currently finds
itself. Those listed below, are concepts thoroughly researched and analysed by academics that touch
these concepts and allow and facilitate the Findings presented in this paper.
2.1 Institutional logics and strategy
The term institutional logics was first introduced by Alford and Friedland (1985) to describe the
contradictory practices and beliefs inherent in the institutions of modern western societies. Their
studies revolved around politics with a focus on capitalism, state bureaucracy, and political democracy.
These were seen as contending institutional orders having different practices and beliefs that shape
how an individual engages in political struggles. Nonetheless, their findings can be applied on a,
smaller, microeconomic scale to observe how contrasting views within a company shape its strategic
The concept of institutional logics can, hence, be interpreted in numerous ways. Yet while varying in
their emphasis, all the definitions of this concept share a core meta-theory: to understand individual
and organizational behaviour (Thornton and Ocasio, 2008). What is generally meant by an institutional
logic, is the set of beliefs and actions individuals within an organisation have. When these are shared
by several people, or imposed by the organisation itself, they become embedded in the company
culture. Logics are “important because they create a sense of common purpose and unity within an
organizational field” (Reay and Hinings, 2009).
This common sense of purpose is a reflection of the company’s mission; its ultimate goal to deliver
value to its customers. This goal can only be successfully achieved through the development and
implementation of a strategy.
A firm’s strategy is a history of trial and error type of actions after which, and gradually, the
organisation finds a line that works, and a strategy is formed. This is a consistent pattern of decisions
that direct the firm towards a desired direction (Mintzberg, 1977). The theoretic preconditions for
strategy have been famously developed by Michael Porter’s Five Forces of Competitive Advantage.
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This however, takes in account a company’s competitive strategy and is too broad for the scope of this
research paper. His Value Chain however, provides insight on how a firm should manage its internal
operations. With “Technological Development” placed as a “Support Activity” (Porter, 1985). Today
this dimension of his model could be arguably located in the “Primary Activities” of a firm wanting to
compete and keep a hold of market share.
Technology now allows for accessible means of expressing innovation and artistry, especially in the
fashion industry. Similarly, strategy is driven by the creativity of managers as that allows them to
explore new ways of doing things (Mintzberg and Lampel, 1999).
Novel strategic methods imply an internal change that can support these new approaches. Institutional
logics are thus the first things to be altered with an undergoing strategic modification. A general shift
in institutional logics determines one in executive decisions. As these logics strongly influence
organizational decision-making (Thornton, 2004). The shift from one logic to another is not always
simple. If multiple logics are present in an organisation, they will compete bringing rivalry. A few
studies have established situations in which competing institutional logics have been able to co-exist
for protracted time period (Lounsbury, 2007 quoted in Reay and Hinings, 2009).
One logic will necessarily attempt to prevail the other yet not excluding the possibility of the creation
of a new logic that is a hybrid of the previously existing ones (Glynn and Lounsbury, 2005). The change
can be initiated by new field-level actors challenging the firm’s status quo and bringing a new
institutional logic (Hensmans, 2003). In contrast, it could be triggered by established field actors who
discover new ways of organising (Greenwood et al. 2002).
2.2 Virtual organisations, connectivity and the digital economy
century has brought unprecedented technological developments that have significantly
increased the importance of ‘the internet of things’. Today’s first world societies depend and are driven
by the assumption that everyone and everything, information-wise, can be reachable at all times. This
is especially true for so called ‘virtual organisations’, those attempting to reach time and space
independence (Rich, 2016). There has been a clear shift from what is defined as early web, Web 1.0 to
the present state of Web 2.0. The first was all about connecting people to information, whereas the
latter focuses on connecting people with other people (Rich, 2015). The rapid deviation to a Web 2.0
could find an explanation under Moore’s Law (cited by Rich, 2015). In non-technical terms, its states
that the storage power of a central processing unit (CPU), doubles approximately every two years.
Hence, with the availability of more powerful technology, people have simpler access to other people.
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As humans, we are ‘social animals’ thus this type of interaction over the internet is no surprise (Young,
These interactions do not solely apply to single users yet also and quite crucially to businesses.
Companies worldwide now tend to rely on the internet and online media thus managing work has
become highly dependent on information technology (Lugano and Peltonen, 2012).
In 1999, Aldrich observed the risks encountered by firms not willing to keep up with technology’s pace.
Traditional organisations become relics due to inflexibility and primary focus on internal operations
(Aldrich, 1999). The concept of connectivity has to, therefore, apply to all web operators, businesses
included. Firms are required to embrace the open culture of Web 2.0 in order to be successful in the
present state of 21st
century business. Digital data collected such as and as simple as a community chat
can be used to make quantitative predictions that can assist a firm in the formulation its strategy (Asur
and Huberman, 2010).
2.3 Social media
Social media can be defined as a network on internet-based applications that derive from the ideals
and technical foundations of the web 2.0; they allow the creation and exchange of user-generate
content (Dijck and Poell, 2013). These social media online platforms emerged in the early 2000s with
a primary objective that seemed to be connectedness. Social networking sites such as Facebook,
Twitter, and LinkedIn as well as user generated content sites, including YouTube and photo sharing
networks have become the center of an ecosystem of connective media (Dijck, 2013). Dijck further
expands on the changes social media has brought to the way we communicate. In his view, the social
media logic differs from mass media logic as the first has the “ability to measure popularity at the same
time and by the same means as it tries to influence or manipulate these rankings” (Dijck, 2013).
The alteration of communication methods and manners is at the core of present research regarding
social media. Above all is the fact that conversations that once occurred in private among a closed
range of people, friends, family and colleagues are now broadcasted publicly for an audience at times
far more vast. Perhaps most importantly, among this vast audience there can be the companies who
create, manufacture and sell the products discussed (Moe and Schweidel, 2014).
Social networks are now extremely rich databases from which companies can extract valuable data.
With specifically designed algorithms and due to their increased popularity, they account for the
largest consumer data collection systems (Kumar and Rishi, 2015).
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The potential reach of social media platforms is striking and fascinating for marketers. Arguably, they
would have no opportunity of ‘speaking’ to such wide audiences to market their company’s products
if it were not for networks such as Facebook. This social network in particular has now become one of
the largest demographic data bases; if it were a country it would be the third largest, ahead of the
United States and behind only China and India (Qualman, 2013) (Botha and Mills, 2012). Surely not all
social media users are necessarily potential customers of any given company or brand yet it gives a
solid idea of how many people are involved in social media. Qualman further highlights the high
numbers of user interactions with social media pointing out the phenomenon of blogging. There are
over 200,000,000 blogs; about 34% of bloggers post opinions about products and brands (Qualman,
2.4 Branding, customer engagement and relationship management
New technologies have changed the way we communicate, likewise they have changed the way
companies broadcast their messages towards consumers. This change finds its roots in classic media
outlets such as newspapers, magazines, radio and television. Their traditional communication method
is intensely one-way (Weber, 2009). Consumers now have an increased access to information and are
hence less likely to believe all that a corporation offers as truth. Clifton and Ahmad, 2009 stress this
concept of awareness throughout the whole book. Customers currently have more control on what
they wish to know. They are armed with new tools and technologies that allow them to filter and chose
the information presented to them. They demand content, services, entertainment and interactions,
on their own terms (Hobsbawm, 2009). Media has divided enough to increase the complexity of finding
mass audiences through conventional advertising channels. Furthermore, the internet is replacing said
channels providing information about brands that would have previously been shared via offline
advertising. Nonetheless, consumers are under increasing time pressure in their lives making it harder
for marketers to grab their attention (Pringle and Marshall, 2012).
Hence, companies need to learn to interact with their customers; a brand should be seen as a dialogue.
The stronger the dialogue, the stronger the brand: the weaker the dialogue, the weaker the brand
(Weber, 2009). This can be achieved through customer relationship management (CRM) Recent
consumer trends have demonstrated the rise of relationships in which customer service exerts a
greater influence over sales, marketing and PR (Thomas and Barlow, 2011). An organisation needs to
understand its customer base thoroughly. This has to be an overall company approach that can be
achieved through digital communications. O'Connor, Galvin and O'Connor, 2001 argue how these
communications, carried out through social media for example, can only be truly effective if everybody
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in the organisation is enabled to service customer relationships. Companies need to listen to their
customer’s opinions as what they say about the brand indicates its identity. Interaction with the brand
stimulates mental and emotional associations that any individual has with it, influencing the
relationship between the individual and the brand (Feldwick, 2009).
Companies now also have to take in account the significance of Consumer to Consumer (C2C)
interactions. Libai et al., 2010 suggest the first decade of the present century as having significant
developments in marketing. This is a consequence of an increasing emphasis on understanding the
C2C dynamics. These interactions often occur online through social media platforms.
Social media is consistently gaining strategic weight for companies as by 2010 a majority of U.S.
Fortune 500 companies were using an official Facebook pages. This social network has helped
corporations maintain relationships with their customers through various forms of contact (Shin et al.,
Word of mouth and peer-to-peer communications are two well-known marketing concepts that
cannot be attributed to social media. In this case, social media acts as an amplifier for word of mouth
giving birth to electronic word of mouth, in short “eWOM” (Sibai, 2016). The spreading of information
by peer-to-peer recommendations, hence, becomes more powerful via the internet. Social media
networks can hyper-accelerate the dissemination of information (Dahlén, Lange and Smith, 2010).
Branding also touches on connectedness in social terms, as there is a social dimension to it as well. If
a brand is famous, people generally assume it as popular and has the endorsement of others (Feldwick,
2009). The tendency to follow peer recommendations is magnified by social networks where people
are at the middle point of information webs which people follow to “go with the flow” (Hobsbawm,
2009). Modern marketing has seen a shift towards being a global conversation between hundreds of
millions of customers in various social media platforms. Here consumers evaluate, approve or dismiss
brands in their world (Hobsbawm, 2009). Successful brands using social media hold extensive
knowledge of this and apply a social media strategy that is consistent for their target audience (Clifton
and Ahmad, 2009).
2.5 Modern strategic thinking in the fashion industry
The fashion industry combines creativity with a more classical and corporate position. Thus, a fashion
brand contains significantly different yet complementary internal institutional logics. Similarly, social
media marketing combines creativeness with analytics and is hence a point of connection between
these two parties (i.e. designer and production). Institutional logics are the principles that justify the
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behaviour of ‘actors’ within an organisation (Reay, Hinings 2009). These principles are able to shape
and guide an organisation’s practices and modus operandi. These recurring behaviours can, to some
extent, link to the organisation’s mission and business philosophy. A world tendency to rely on the
internet and online media has made managing work highly dependent on information technology
(Lugano and Peltonen, 2012). Hence, actors within the organisation need let down the guard a little
not being fixated with their lifelong held social-media-repelling institutional logic.
3.0 Data and Methodology
3.1 Qualitative Research Approach
A primary source kind of study would provide an in-depth analysis of metrics that cannot be measured
nor analysed through the use of data collection. An organisation is made of people who interact with
each other to deliver a final product to customers. This is amplified in an SME, where said interactions
are less structured, more frequent and among a significantly contained group of people when
compared to large firms (Durst and Edvardsson, 2012).
Hence, the results presented in the Findings section have been developed following a direct
participant’s observations combined with in-depth interviews with colleagues and brand’s former
employees. These have nurtured the qualitative analysis: with the first being developed following the
internal dynamics and interactions throughout the course of my two year experience as the brand’s
Marketing & Social Media Director; the latter, the interviews, used to remove potential bias caused by
the inclusion of only one of the brand’s employees’ paradigm.
3.2 Case study: Animapop – The Perfect Reversible Dress
A startup womenswear brand manufacturing reversible, neoprene fabric, water printed clothing items;
officially founded in January 2014 and launched in stores for the Spring/Summer 2014 season. Early
prototypes of the product were designed and developed in mid-2013. Under its current name,
Animapop began as an independently produced and distributed brand. Initial prototypes of dresses
with different samples and varieties of neoprene fabric were made. Having perfected and selected a
definitive fabric, 100 dresses were produced as a batch intended for market research and field-testing.
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Product complexity and differentiation were non-existent at this time with only one variety, or ‘cut’,
of dress made: the Little Black Dress (LBD).
The first 100 dresses were an immediate success, sold in just a week. Purchased in the Rome, Italy,
area by ten customers in a launching bundle of 10 dresses. Early customers were asked feedback on
both design and fabric. The majority of the comments pointed towards having a wider range of models.
The most significant responses, however, were in the enthusiastic reception and approval of the fabric.
Neoprene is a material commonly and primarily used for scuba diving suits. Despite using a kind of
neoprene nowhere close to even resembling that to go under water, announcing a dress made with
that fabric could have backfired in terms of customer perception.
The positive results of the market research and increased understanding of the fabric used, gave the
designer Annalisa Caruso the intuition of printing on both sides of the dress. This, however required a
different set of machines and production capacity than the one used for the first batch. Hence, she
‘pitched’ the idea to Tuscan based production company Just Trend srl2
who owns larger facilities as
well as experience, credibility and functioning governance in the industry. Having accepted to finance
the line, a fully reversible neoprene fabric prototype dress was produced in February 2014 giving birth
to Animapop -The Perfect Reversible Dress.
The brand utilises a high-tech material which is essentially wrinkle proof, and extremely travel friendly
with a single dress being ‘wrapped’ in its 20x8cm case-bag. Such a small size allows fitting as many as
twenty cases, hence forty dresses, in a cabin-size luggage bag plus a pair of shoes. This product satisfies
the demand for women who have an aesthetic and fashion sense and are frequent flyers.
The nature of the product, the simplicity with which a single dress can be made, makes it suitable for
two types of production approaches. One being the classic industry specific operations in which
collections are developed a year in advance. While the other being a significantly more disruptive ‘fast-
The production process is highly machine-dependent with each item being laser cut and having no
more than four seam lines. As of April 2016 the parent company, Just Trend, has been using a
combination of the two aforementioned production approaches. By contract, Ms Caruso is required to
design: two seasonal collections, Spring-Summer and Fall-Winter, plus at least two “flash” collections
(smaller in item quantity, produced, and sold with the fast-fashion approach).
Srl stands for “società a responsabilità limitata”, the Italian equivalent of limited company (ltd)
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Currently, neither Animapop nor Just Trend as a whole have an online vending platform primarily for
cost and logistic reasons. This translates to having sales representatives push the items to stores rather
than directly selling them to those who will be wearing them.
3.3 Quantitative Data
3.3.1 Primary Sources
Animapop – The Perfect Reversible Dress is the brand at the center of this research paper. To fulfil the
purpose of examining the usage of social media as a driver of strategic thinking, the brand’s Instagram
Twitter, Facebook and YouTube campaigns have been analysed. Due to both availability of data and
for the brand’s marketing strategy itself, there will be a focus on Facebook. This is a social network
allowing users to create profiles connecting with friends in order to share thoughts, photographs,
videos and private messages. This platform also supports “Pages” that grant users to create and
promote a public page assembled around or for a particular topic: a person, philosophy, business etc.
Furthermore, the brand’s sales results have been analysed to observe a potential change from before
and after the social media campaigns and social media marketing strategy. Data from Facebook was
collected in English whereas that relating to sales was translated from Italian for the purpose of
research and presented in its original form to maintain its authenticity. Furthermore, observations
from the brand’s daily operations and excerpts from the brand’s management’s opinions will be
3.3.2 Analytics from Social Media Campaigns
Animapop’s current online marketing strategy is mainly directed towards increasing awareness
through Facebook’s Ads service.
The data collected from the Facebook page of the company used as a case study included: number of
video views, page and photo likes and types of interactions between users and posts published by the
Page. These statistics (such as those in Appendix 6 and Figures 1 & 2) have been observed throughout
the course of the brand’s presence on social media, April 2014 to present. The results of the
observations in question have been summarised and interpreted in the Findings section. Analytics such
as the increase of video views, page likes, post likes, general reach and engagement have been used
as indices of positive social media performance.
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Figure 1. Sample data available from Facebook “Page Insights”
Figure 2. Facebook “Insights” for individual posts
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3.3.3 Sales figures for Animapop collections
These are Excel files collected directly from the brand’s parent company Just Trend srl. Not all of the
files have been made available, hence, the analysis will be based on sales data from:
the brand’s very first collection launched in 2014
trimestral sales from 2015
full year for 2016
The data for sales relating to 2016 have already been made available as the fashion industry’s trades
are conveyed close to 12 months in advance. This excludes brands operating under the fast fashion
business model in which collections are drawn, developed, manufactured and sold within 3 months.
The Excel files in question differ slightly from one year to another largely due to the brand’s
development from a startup to an increasingly more structured business.
Said files were too lengthy to be included without losing purpose in their entirety, thus sample pages
from each document have been included as appendices (1 to 5). Furthermore, the numbers are
presented in the Italian format of Excel. For example, one-thousand would be written as 1.000 and not
1,000 as it would under the Anglo-Saxon system.
Sales data serve as a benchmark of the brand’s performance in the market. Their steady increase has
been compared to the rise in popularity on social media platforms providing a link between the two.
In most cases, the sales results included in these files are not directly relatable to a social media
strategy. They are, however, substantially relevant when observing the brand’s growth. They have
been analysed and considered when presenting the Findings. Furthermore, the files mentioned below
display sales resulting from a store owners and/or representative’s purchase intention and subsequent
request via social media platforms. Examples of such requests can be found in Appendix 8.
Sales for 2014 – Collection #1
In this file (Appendices 1 & 2), sales are registered and categorised under the nomenclature of
“Vendite IntraCEE” and “Vendite Italia”. These translate to “Sales within Europe” (with “CEE” as the
Italian acronym for Economic European Community) and “Sales within Italy”.
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Sales for 2015
Similarly to the 2014 file, Appendix 3 lists sales as “IntraCEE” as well as “ExtraCEE”. 2015 has been the
first year with sales outside the European continent.
Sales for 2016
This is far more advanced Excel file (Appendices 4 & 5.) which includes the name of each store who
has purchased an Animapop item, the quantity of the order, total amount spent and the name and
address of the distributor, or sales representative that sponsored the transaction.
4.1 Contrasting Institutional Logics
The Animapop brand, is owned with an equal split of shares among the creative and corporate agents
involved. The line’s designer holds 50% of the brand leaving the remaining percentage in the hands of
Just Trend. This identical division of ownership is the source of effectively unavoidable conflict
between the two parties. The first being more progressive and embracing the start-up paradigm while
the other is substantially more conservative and old fashioned. This delicate relationship sees no victor
as even managerial tasks and responsibilities are split uniformly. Two distinct logics are present in this
4.1.1 The ‘traditional’ logic
The late 1980s saw the increase in decentralisation of production in fashion to serve a larger customer
base (Mackinney-Valentin, 2013). Contrarily to this industry tendency, Just Trend’s late owner Luciano
Baldetti, strongly believed in keeping production local, within the boundaries of Tuscany. Baldetti was
a charismatic and firm leader; although arguably stubborn he did believe in the power of “Made in
Italy”, a significant asset for Animapop. He was the main exponent in the traditional logic wanting well-
established processes and connections to stay as they had for years. The fabric was bought in Prato
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manufactured near Arezzo, handed to his loyal representatives and salespersons to then be sold. This
logic ran the company in the form of a family business rather than that of an SME.
Hence, the production side represents the traditional retail business approach. The company relies
almost solely on its network of sales representatives and agents that it has built throughout years of
collaboration. These are all relationships with experienced professionals whom are undoubtedly
valuable to the brand. Their connections, in turn, help find stores meaning production of dresses,
stores, customers and sales.
Interviews with the company’s employees confirmed the modus operandi. Silvia Redditi, Operations
Manager indicated, “We strongly rely on long lasting relationships with our agents. This creates a
reliable dialogue as from them we can know directly what store owners think about the items”.
Marketing of the products normally takes the form of trade shows exclusive to industry insiders or in
house showings for their existing agents and salespersons.
4.1.2 The ‘modern’ logic
This logic, advocated by the Fashion Designer, the brand’s Marketing & Social Media Director and
Graphic Designer, focuses on a fast paced and up to date approach. It is open to new channels of
distribution and sales such as online retailing. It gives a greater importance to consumer feedback
when developing the brand’s Collections and campaigns. This logic is decidedly more ‘visual’ and
digitally oriented. As the head of this logic, Ms Caruso believes that “this brand is art-inspired yet with
a delicate and complex mixture of pop culture and graphic design. The only way to convey all these
things successfully is to be constantly in touch with the women who will wear these dresses”.
The artistic logic within a fashion organisation often finds itself in contrast with the corporate one.
Fashion designers for example struggle to manage and preserve their “jurisdiction” over the creative
process in contention with industrial-fashion manager such as those in the aforementioned traditional
logic (Godart, 2012).
This logic is more focused on a rapid increase in brand awareness. That of solely relying on trade shows
on the traditional logic’s side is seen as a slow approach. The modern logic hence aims to propagate
the brand’s image through new channels of retail and marketing. It advocates for the creation of an
online store in order to be independent from stores. Ms Caruso added, “We are trying to change the
company’s strategy because store owner receive feedback from the end customers yet before it
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reaches our factory, it has to run through a tremendously long chain of communications in which
information could be lost along the way”.
4.2 The traditional logic’s barriers to social media acceptance
This logic incurs both generational and psychological issues towards the adoption of a social media
strategy. As with many SMEs, they tend to perceive the use of technology as an expensive and complex
initiative (Dahnil et al., 2014). Not belonging to the Millennial generation, these managers may not
fully understand social media’s potential (Rich, 2015) (Balakrishnan, Dahnil and Yi, 2014). There seems
to be an ideological barrier between the traditional approach and the virtual world. Understandably,
this results from the impalpable nature of social media. Managers embracing the said approach tend
to view social media as a teenager obsession, a waste of time, not understanding the potential benefits
of likes on a photograph displaying a product as opposed to a trending hashtag. These examples are
surely cold, emotionless and lack the human contact a sales agent has with store owners (in this case
the company’s direct customers) but they are equally as important as building and sustaining brand
awareness, identity and loyalty.
4.3 Causes for debate
One logic relies primarily on face-to-face relationships while the other is open to virtual ones. The
contrast arises from one party strongly believing in the relationships built throughout year of
experience and collaborations. Whereas the other, the modern logic, while recognizing these
relationships as meaningful assets, sees new ones as an added value. These new relationships, as
advocated by the modern logic, can be established online using a social media strategy. Contrarily, the
traditional logic the idea of building new relationships with eye-to-eye contact sealed by a handshake.
For a designer, founding a personal label is an accomplishment and translates into freedom of choice
in terms of design. Issues arise when this creative freedom is challenged (Godart, 2012)
In the words of the brand’s former Photographer, Alessandro D’Urso: “there are two factions which
speak different and contrasting languages. This problem could be solved by agreeing a universal online
strategy which could guide everyone in the company towards achieving goals beneficial to both
In some cases, rivalries between logics can be managed through collaborative relationships where
those advocating distinct logics work together to achieve a desired goal (Beech and Huxham 2003).
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However, this does not exclude the possibility nor the willingness of those in the modern approach to
attempt modifying the traditional one.
4.4 The importance of customer relationship management
No matter what the label’s name reads, no matter the market share owned, a company not operating
in a monopoly will never be fully able to drive demand. Customers drive it. Customers purchase,
customers keep the organisation going.
By these means, CRM is now of crucial importance for a company. Customers want their voice to be
heard and social media allows them to establish a direct and personal relationship with the company.
Social media allows for an extension of Corporate Social Responsibility with users becoming
stakeholders that the company is required to take care of. Neglecting this would mean bad publicity,
not the “all publicity is good publicity” kind though. One thing is being outrageous and making the
headlines (bad publicity yet still being on the headlines), another is not replying to queries effectively
ignoring your potential customers.
4.5 Social media strategy, combining the conflicting logics
A need to narrow the gap between Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants is required to keep the
company’s strategic thinking healthy and competitive for the current business environment (Rich,
2015). With these two terms, Dr Rich divides individuals born under a computerised existence, thus
accustomed to the digital language of computers and those who, in contrast, due to generational
barriers, are struggling with it. Competitive strategy should also revolve around social media as a mean
for product dissemination and increase in awareness.
Studies have proven how a new institutional logic can be introduced replacing the current one by
becoming the company’s dominant one (Reay and Hinings, 2009). The perfectly even split of brand
ownership shares foments the contrast between the two logics. Neither of the two shows clear signs
of prevailing on the other. With Animapop, there is a strong resistance caused by human factors such
as pride on one part and miscommunication on the other. One logic has economic leverage while the
other holds intellectual and creative power. The two are complementary as there are no sales without
a manufacturing and capital entity; similarly, there are no drawings for the collections without the
creative side. A meeting point will have to be agreed for the brand’s well-being and its successful
growth and profit increase.
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A potential solution was found by the modern logic in the use of social media. Something that has and
is slowly wrestling its way through the traditional logic’s approval and appraisal of benefits.
4.6 Animapop’s Social Media Marketing Campaigns
Following the brand’s launch in 2014, an official Facebook account was created; initially more as a
bucket list action rather than a strategy driven move. Unsurprisingly, the account and overall online
presence had little attention by the brand’s traditional managers. This tendency, however, was
inverted by the modern logic’s increased focus on developing an online presence.
The early stages of Animapop’s social media marketing strategy were extremely tedious. One logic
would ask for funds to spend on internet/social campaigns while the other would systematically reply
with a “we have bigger priorities at the moment”. The traditional side of the business however did
have its reasons: there was no data to justify an investment in likes and video views. The brand had
just arrived in stores and hence had, as of 2014, a significantly circumscribed customer base and
However, this does not fully discharge the traditional logic as its managers lacked vision of the
potentialities of ‘virality’. A carefully positioned and orchestrated video could have boosted the brand’s
popularity from the start. This has been the case for Wren, a clothing line who famously launched the
“First Kiss” campaign advertising its 2014 Fall collection. The video showed strangers kissing for the
first time; something completely unrelated to fashion, yet the brand’s name appeared in the opening
titles. The campaign went viral after uploading the video on YouTube and sharing it on social media
platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Its cumulative 61 million views allowed it to be
covered in media outlets such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and CNN to mention a few.
These facts would still be classified as “unsatisfactory” for the traditional logic observed in this paper.
Yet the video campaign paid off and was clearly measured in a 13,600% sale increase on Wren’s
website compared to the week before its release (Cooker, 2014). This is the sort of Return on
Investment (ROI) that the traditional logic seeks in order to lower its sceptical guard on social media
4.6.1 Prompting customer engagement
One of Animapop’s earliest social media campaigns revolved around the concept of engagement and
CRM. Hence, in an attempt to involve the brand’s followers with the content published on its Facebook
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page, the In Love With Animapop campaign was launched. The campaign consisted in publishing
photographs of customers active on Facebook wearing Animapop products. The pictures were sent in
via private messages by the customers themselves in a sort of contest in which the brand offered to
publish the best portraits.
Figure 3. Sample photos from the “In Love With Animapop” engagement campaign
This campaign was likewise an internal experiment in an attempt to bring the traditional faction of the
company closer to social media displaying a positive reaction from followers. Customers responded
energetically and photographs kept flowing in.
In Love With Animapop has proved to be successful due to the universality of the campaign. It did not
exclude anyone and did not require customers to be professional models to have their photograph
published. In this instance, the brand was able to reach out directly to its final customers; something
no one using the traditional logics from Just Trend would have been able to do. The campaign
successfully engaged customers in a dialogue. The brand reached out to understand the consumer’s
design preferences and customers replied enthusiastically debating on the best dresses. Furthermore,
it increased customer inquiries regarding where to buy dresses posted by fellow customers.
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4.7 Raising brand identity and awareness
Since its first collection released in 2014, Animapop has distinguished itself as an art and pop culture
inspired brand. With high quality fabric and graphic design techniques combined to Ms Caruso’s
drawings and photographs. The competing logics find common grounds specifically in this element:
brand identity. Both parties wish to maintain delivering the high quality agreed upon at the start of the
business cooperation. This common vision was further solidified in the common will to increase brand
awareness and potential customer reach. Social media proved the most effective and low cost mean
to do so. The traditional logic began lowering its guard towards the use of social media following the
brand’s travels around Europe and the appearance in the White Fashion exposition in Milan. Events
that were photographically reported and broadcasted on Animapop’s social media pages. Customers
appreciated these posts as they provided insights on the work done by the brand behind the scenes.
Despite not fully embracing the use of social media, the traditional logic is fully aware of the
importance of publicity. Hence, their availability to send free dresses to potential endorsers/promoters
allowed the modern logic to seek contacts through social media networks.
4.8 Social Media Endorsement Deals
4.8.1 DJ Miss FTV Campaign
The deal with DJ Miss FTV3
involved an exchange of clothing for Facebook posts endorsing the brand.
The collaboration began with a tester post made by the DJ’s manager of an old photoshoot video
published by Animapop for the previous year’s Spring/Summer Collection. The video was highly
beneficial for the brand as it generated:
- 782,847 people reached
- <179,838 video views
- <2,600 like
- 213 video shares
The data above has been updated on March 31st
; however, the data shown in Figures 4 & 5 was
collected on 2 February 2016.
Referred to, throughout the paper, as the DJ for simplicity
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Figure 4. Quantitative data from DJ Miss FTV’s video post
On the same note, simply sharing the DJ’s post on Animapop’s official page caused a reach of a further
36,842 people and 6,403 more video views.
Figure 5. Quantitative data from Animapop’s response/sharing of DJ Miss FTV’s video post
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The video shared by the DJ could be considered more as a public appreciation of the product rather
than a true endorsement. Hence, following its success, the second phase of the campaign took place.
Preserving the tone of her other social media photographs in order to better appeal to her followers,
the picture in Figure 6 was shot to be published. Featuring the Fall/Winter season’s best selling dress,
the post generated over 4,700 likes reaching 5430 people only by re-sharing it on the Animapop page.
Above all, the post generated positive engagement within her fan base which was part of the brand’s
campaign goals. Comments such as “you have good taste in dresses” and “beautiful dress” confirmed
the campaign’s success.
Figure 6. Cathedral Bohemian Glass Dress endorsement photograph
A second photograph (Appendix 7) was posted two weeks later to maximise the DJ’s visibility and
following. Again, this post’s quantitative results were successful generating over 3,300 likes.
Furthermore, this endorsement deal increased Animapop’s reach in the Benelux area as well as
Germany. Countries where the DJ has the highest number of page likes and where the brand sells most
of its dresses.
These endorsement campaigns highlight the power of word of mouth. There is no surprise in celebrity
endorsements working their magic to increase brand awareness. However, social media allows small
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or startup brands to reach otherwise intangible audiences at a reasonable price. Arguably DJ Miss FTV
is not a global celebrity, yet her 1.5 million and counting likes on Facebook allowed Animapop’s video
and hence products to be seen by 782,847 people. Considering the price of this move was just a few
dresses, which have a varying cost of production of roughly £45, it is a highly rewarding investment. A
company closing itself from such an opportunity would be foolish especially considering the low risk
high return nature of such means of communications. Marketing on social media platforms is highly
effective; targeting can penetrate extensively with options including internet surfing habits, hobbies,
interests, sexual orientation, mobile phone used, time spent online etc.
4.9 Opening to new markets using social media
4.9.1 United States
Thanks to contacts achieved by the traditional logic’s typical operations, Animapop began selling its
collections in Canada in 2015. The company’s sales force was able to sell dresses to Blu’s, a chain of
stores based in the Province of Alberta. The brand’s store presence then expanded to stores in
Montreal and Toronto.
The modern logic sought this opportunity to extend the brand’s North American presence to the
United States (US). However, Animapop’s sales force had no contacts whatsoever in the US. The
modern logic persuaded the traditional to send dresses to a Los Angeles based singer, Sarah McMullen.
Her high number of YouTube video views and age, roughly 19 at the time, made the traditional logic
management green light the project.
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Figure 7. Sarah McMullen’s endorsement photograph
The main reason behind this move was to attempt to gain brand awareness and raise curiosity in the
Los Angeles region. The modern logic believed this to be an opportunity to generate interest more
specifically among women in the 18-25 age range. This campaign, caught the interest of two California
based buyers who bought the dresses under the Lines of Denmark company, a US clothing distributor
based in Olympia (WA). The items were then distributed to two stores in Los Angeles, one in Boston
and an online US based retailer. As shown in Appendix 4, this firm bought 724 Animapop items
accounting for €32,484.1. Surely, this is not an immense percentage when compared to 2016’s gross
profit of €1,165,088 (Appendix 5). Yet it demonstrates the potentialities of social media not merely as
a company’s online display of products but as a tool to generate revenue.
The “Horikazu Dress” pictured below labelled “Side B” was inspired by traditional Japanese tattoos
made precisely by “Master Horikazu”. The relevance of this photograph, shared as a ‘thank you’
statement by the tattoo artist’s Facebook account, lies in its free advertising in one of Animapop’s new
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Figure 8. Master Horikazu’s gratitude post
The image helped gain essentially free publicity in the Asian market where Animapop Dresses are
currently sold in department stores throughout Hong Kong (Appendix 4). Sales in Asia accounted for a
nominal percentage of 2016’s gross revenue, with 180 items sold. However, publicity such as this could
boost visibility in this market an potentially increase sales for the upcoming collections. This further
demonstrates social media’s potential cross-cultural reach with a limited budget. Figure 8 shows a post
in Japanese translated to English to thank an Italian brand for the use of an image; granting free
publicity for said brand on the Asian market.
4.10 The traditional logic’s change in mind-set
The aforementioned Facebook endorsements exemplify how social media can make a fashion brand
become independent of physical and time boundaries. Modern companies should be aiming to possess
a brand that people can trust and want to feel connected to. One way to do this is to create customer
engagement to stimulate dialogue with those purchasing your products. This aspect is perhaps the one
that has had the biggest impact on the traditional logic’s acceptance and commendation towards social
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Platform such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram allow for a constant exchange between Animapop
and its current and potential customers. The brand’s official pages receive messages on a daily basis
with requests from fashion bloggers to collaborate and enquiries about store locations by customers
(Appendices 7 & 8); these messages are indices for a growth in brand awareness. As the number of
messages from social media users increased, the brand has had the option to set an automated
response software. This was an option that both institutional logics declined as explained by designer
Ms Caruso: “we value our customers and consequently all agreed to not standardise these replies in
order to build a relationship with them one message at a time”. Traditional and modern logic members
both know that eventually a different solution will have to be taken as the requests keep on increasing.
Yet they recognize the importance of building a loyal and returning customer base through the use of
The brand has gained international customer recognition also thanks to its social media, online
footprint. The Animapop brand is growing both in popularity and in sales volumes, made throughout
twelve countries spread over three different continents; 2016 has seen the highest levels so far with
26,513 items sold grossing €1,165,088.
Anna Bacci, long-term manager for Just Trend srl also in charge of Animapop’s management, changed
her opinion regarding the use of social media. As part of the traditional logic, she observed how “the
number or requests from customers truly struck [her]”. Both logics share the common goal of
maximising sales and social media offers a fast-paced means to achieve that. The interview with Ms
Bacci further exposes the traditional logic’s new mind-set. She expressed her satisfaction with the
“simplicity with which we can interact with customers, something which we lacked. I still truly believe
in the work done by our salesmen and women as the fashion industry’s structure has solid roots, yet I
see what can be achieved by being ‘social’ as beneficial for the brand”.
Social media has also been useful to monitor competitors and identify counterfeit and replica products
present on the market. Ms Caruso claims the brand’s “customers are very loyal and also thanks to their
warning notices, we have been able to identify imitating brands in The Netherlands, Germany, Italy
and France. All countries in which we sell our dresses”. These notices have helped both logics to react
against this deceptive competition. The modern logic has created more complex and inimitable designs
whereas the traditional logic has sent messages informing its sales representatives of this issue.
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The impact of technology nor the potential reach of social media networks can be ignored today. There
is a general agreement on this point among researchers and academics. Yet provided we are living the
concepts analysed, no definitive answers can be made with certainty. Modern literature addresses the
need for companies to embrace a meticulous social media strategy as both an acknowledgement of
the aforementioned Web 2.0 as well as seizing a profitable opportunity (Balakrishnan, Dahnil and Yi,
2014) (Nobre and Silva, 2014).
Social media carries broad potentialities for companies to reach a large customer base which would
otherwise be either impossible achieve or take years of work (Ainin et al., 2015). Research has shown
that a social media strategy, despite differing in motives and objectives for individual SMEs, has a
strong positive impact on their financial performance (Ainin et al., 2015). These firms can benefit from
the implementation of social media on several accounts:
Increasing brand awareness
Creating customer engagement triggering purchase intention
Analysing top trending/sold items
Staying ahead of competition
Having easily measurable and retrievable analytics
(Kim and Ko, 2011) (Dahnil et al., 2014) (Piskorski, 2014) (Ainin et al., 2015)
Social media is still a virtual tool and as such needs to be observed in practical terms in order to be
truly effective. Calculating the results from its strategies and campaigns is thus fundamental for a firm
as failing to do so would vanish its ability to recognise the full rewards of its implementation (McCann
and Barlow, 2015). The inability to calculate social media ROI can result in firms not using social media
at all. Despite this, an increasing number of SMEs are choosing to rely on social media to market and
advertise their products (Hoffman and Fodor, 2010).
Possible answers to this fundamental issue hindering social media strategy have been offered in
models suggesting simplicity and predefined objectives (Murdough, 2009). Several academics share
the concept of goal setting and metrics to be agreed prior to the organisation’s entrance in social
media. These goals could be range from increasing website clicks to gaining page likes, for example. A
specific target demographic should be set along with campaign duration and budget constraints
(Green, 2016). Returns from social media investments are not necessarily measured in cash flow, yet
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mainly in customer behaviours (Hoffman and Fodor, 2010). There is no single method of measurement.
Social media ROI can hence be both qualitative and quantitative. This can result in SMEs finding
themselves overwhelmed by the amount of data available avoiding the analysis completely (Divol et
Neglecting the adoption of a social media strategy can also derive from factors such as the modification
of the firm’s hierarchy and power structures. However, the presence of qualified personnel can alter
this managerial logic (Bruque and Moyano, 2007). With a limited employee pool, SMEs find themselves
more susceptible to a well structured hierarchy which if questioned or threatened can rely on
impulsive decisions. Yet relying on accredited professionals could help traditional logic managers to
focus on the side responsibilities they are qualified to do. Professionals would be in charge of the social
media accounts and work in parallel with the traditional logic’s operations without any interference.
Social media foments word of mouth, something which 92% of consumers define as the best source
for brand information, up from 67% in 1977 (Qualman, 2013). Most consumers turn to the internet
when researching potential future purchases. Thus, online peer recommendations have become more
influential than ever (Golden, 2010).
Studies have shown that SMEs tend to adopt a social media strategy in the growth segment of the
Industry Life Cycle. Growth stimulates a firm’s search and adoption of more powerful technological
solutions (Bruque and Moyano, 2007). Brand growth also means an increase in customer base hence
in market reach. Customers communicate among each other generating word of mouth yet a firm
should not stop at that. SMEs should use social media to further engage with their customers thus
retaining valuable knowledge about them (Tsimonis and Dimitriadis, 2014).
5.1 Key factors to implement a successful Social Media Strategy in the fashion industry
These are findings regarding further research focused specifically on the fashion industry. Fashion
brands should push on the sense of community advocated by Web 2.0 that reflects in the fashion
blogging phenomenon. Consumers listen to fashion bloggers’ suggestions creating a form of
community centred on style (Pihl, 2014). Furthermore, brands should maintain a constant style for the
contents published on social networks. Nonetheless, this should be a varied type of content in order
to reach and appeal to a wider crowd (Bartlett, Cole and Rocamora, 2013) (Clifton and Ahmad, 2009).
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Another key element to truly engage customers is to publish daily in order to build a relationship over
a lengthy period of time (Öztamur and Karakadılar, 2014) (Tafesse, 2015).
Social media is currently at its peak meaning that a company willing to embrace it would not be leaping
into dark territory. Rather it would be able to retain thoroughly detailed step-by-step examples of how
to either succeed or fail. Despite being in constant expansion, social media and its users are well
defined and largely predictable. That does not mean being able to spot the next new trend or predict
the amount of video views for a new collection. Yet it can help firms spot patterns of interactions,
reactions and engagement to specific inputs such as photographs of products. These, in turn, translate
into an improved and specialized tailoring of the products offered to meet the target market’s demand.
Companies could largely benefit from the implementation of a social media oriented strategy. SMEs
can leverage on their small size to build a following based on trust and potentially gain market share.
Brands in the fashion industry should push on and advertise their distinctive elements to gain said
customer trust high (Bartlett, Cole and Rocamora, 2013). Harvesting customers through CRM improves
brand identity and this can be done effectively using social media (Feldwick, 2009) (Shin et al., 2013)
(Sibai, 2016). As seen with Animapop, marketing campaigns on these networks can be tailored to
target markets where sales are highest or perhaps where a given brand wants to expand its customer
Social media will not provide a product with competitive advantage yet it could drive a company’s
strategy towards more popular, hence potentially profitable, directions. The width of its data banks
makes it appealing for marketers wanting to have an in-depth customer knowledge (Asur and
Huberman, 2010). A factor that SMEs should regard highly given a limited customer base. It is hence,
in the best interest of an SME and its managers to include social media in its strategy as a tool allowing
CRM to be profitable.
Consumers seek a consistent and frequent dialogue with brands whether they are on a smart phone
or inside a store (Keller et al., 2014). Social media should, hence be used by an SME to maximise on a
direct dialogue with consumers in order to market its products to stimulate purchase intention. Daily
partnership requests and customer enquiries give a brand the possibility to establish said dialogue and
reward the brand for the constant presence and effort on social media marketing.
The first step is to acknowledge the virtual and impalpable nature of social media. For non-digital
natives or non-millennials, a major obstacle in the acceptance of this technology when applied to
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business is the Return on Investment. Managers operating under the traditional institutional logic
often have difficulty in recognizing the effectiveness of social media. It is a matter of trust. This is
understandable as neither a Facebook “like” not a “retweet” on Twitter find a spot on the balance
sheet. The modern logic workforce is more open towards embracing this idea, yet only when both
logics truly understand the social networking potential, will they be able to combine and form a solid
and unique corporate strategy.
Social media allows for an easily accessible company profile, an official outlet to broadcast information
to customers. Platforms where brands can combat customers moving to competition exhibiting their
differentiating characteristics to distinguish them from counterfeit or substitute products. Similarly, it
can be used to let customers gain access to things which would be undisclosed under the traditional
fashion industry operations. For example, a brand’s participation in an international trade show is a
success which however would be solely shared among industry insiders. In this case, through the
sharing of photographs and updates, a brand can inform all of its customers, current and potential,
about it boosting its reputation.
SMEs in fashion, should aim to exploit the social media phenomenon, its popularity and reach as more
and more customers rely on the networks for purchasing recommendations (Keller et al., 2014). Social
media provides this opportunity by addressing so-called “social failures” (Piskorski, 2014). These social
interactions are hardly undertook in the “offline world”. This concept primarily refers to human
interactions in sociology yet can be applied to the human-to-company interaction just as effectively.
In legal terms and much alike a person, a company is an entity, it has a finite lifespan and pays taxes.
Social media, can help further “humanise” the company providing it with a public voice allowing it to
stimulate interaction and, if done correctly, customer engagement. (Kumar and Rishi, 2015).
The brand analysed highlighted the benefits of these internet-based platforms for a fashion SME’s
growth as well as its change in mind-set. Social media allows for essentially instant communications
that can bypass the traditional more logistically challenging steps. The ease with which a brand can
reach out to its customers anytime and from anywhere with the use of social media is changing SMEs’
short term tactics; with social media finding its way in their overall strategy.
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