New Study Reveals That Social Media Doesn’t Help Big Fashion Brands Sell Products

Meghan Blalock
michael kors instagram

Considering the fashion industry’s obsession with social media, it is a bit surprising to find out—via a just-released study—that sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram do very little in terms of physical sales for fashion and accessories brands.

Digital consultancy firm L2 Think Tank conducted the study, and found that “social media networks in general just aren’t effective platforms for acquiring new customers compared to more traditional methods, like search and e-mail marketing.” In other words, if a brand like Michael Kors (which has more than a million followers on Instagram alone) want to sell more shoes, bags, and other goods, they’re better off putting their investments into e-mail blasts than posting about them on Facebook, etc.

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The proof: the study found that in a sample of 247 “prestige brands,” over the past four years less than 0.25% of new customers have been acquired through Facebook and less than .01% from Twitter. Those numbers are shockingly low, but perhaps not surprising: most people who follow Michael Kors, for example, on any social media site do so because they already know and love the brand. It’s hard to imagine any potentially new customer finding out about a brand just from surfing Twitter.

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However, all these numbers don’t mean brands like Kors are going to stop funneling funds into their social media anytime soon. “Fashion” and “Instagram” are two concepts that are currently so intertwined as to be inseparable; for better or worse, it’s hard to even imagine going to a fashion show or seeing product for the first time without Instagramming what you see. We don’t see that changing in the near future, and we’re sure brands will continue to work on figuring out how to turn that engagement into profit.