Earlier this month, Manchester hosted its very first Vogue Fashion Night Out. The event, which started five years ago in London and New York, consisted of hundreds of stores across the city centre hosting parties and laying on reams of freebies from manicures and fringe trims to hotdogs and champagne. Top designers and fashion writers were on hand chatting about new collections, whilst famous DJs pumped out music for the thousands of eager attendees.
The Code attendees had an amazing night, arriving home happy, tipsy and laden down with bags -- and all without spending a single penny. But, at the same time, we couldn't help but feel that a lot of night's benefits were one-sided. Had the brands involved really achieved their goals for the night, be it reaching new audiences or deepening brand engagement? Most attendees seemed to be paying little attention to the wares on sale or even the names above each door because they were so engrossed in the free activities on offer.
So, what could the shops have done differently?
Firstly, a focus on data capture would have allowed them to start up one-to-one conversations post-event, once the noise from their competitors had died down. Umberto Gianni was the only brand to whip out the iPads and take down our details before they handed over freebies. Even setting up screens to make it easy for people to like each retailer on Facebook or follow on Twitter would have ensured new customers weren't lost.
Secondly, each brand could have live-streamed their celebrity talks and product launches, maximizing the reach of their efforts but also creating videos that could live afterwards on YouTube and become great branded content.
And thirdly, more brands could have made use of social sharing. For every brand like Selfridges who cleverly set up Instagram booths allowing attendees to pose for their own fashion shoots, there were many more brands that didn't catch on. The Arndale Shoping Centre, for example, held a photo competition where visitors posed next to a giant pair of red heels. But instead of encouraging social sharing, they instead emailed the pictures the next day as an attachment to a poorly branded email.
It was great, however, to see so many brands taking advantage of digital in other ways. Vogue used Facebook to spread the word pre-event, and garnered nearly 5,000 likes in the process. There were also hashtags aplenty to encourage conversation on the night, from Warehouse's #knitbombing to Vogue's own #FNO. And a staggering 200 online retailers took part in the event globally, with apps and digital pop-up stores and flash sales.
Hopefully the retailers of Manchester will grab these opportunities next year. We're already looking forward to it (especially the free champagne!).
Wondering how you can leverage social media effectively? We're always up for a discussion (and, as you can see, we've got plenty of ideas), so get in touch.