Do you need to be a social media junkie to get into fashion?
As someone with a background in fashion journalism looking for a job in a new city I wondered: 'Just like fashion brands need to up their tech-game in order to attract clients, so does anyone wanting to break into a career in fashion, right?'.
Building an online identity is increasingly important, not just for background check reasons. However, for some jobs it matters more than others. If you’re looking for a sociable role, employers are more likely to take number of followers into consideration. So, does your popularity count? Does the amount of material you post per day matter as much as the quality? What is it employers are looking for when searching for you online?
Christene Barberich, global editor-in-chief at Refinery29, recently stated in an article that she uses social media to “get a better sense of someone's interests, point of view on certain issues that are relevant". She will also check different channels “to see if there's anything fact-wise that could provide useful discussion in an upcoming meeting or interview”.
Exploring the use of technology in fashion has become a huge part of the Fashion Marketing course at London College of Fashion (LCF). Dr. Natascha Radclyffe -Thomas, Fashion Marketing BA (Hons) course leader at LCF, explains that “it is impossible to teach marketing without including the impact technological changes have had until now and the likely impact of future technological developments”.
Her students are taught how to use “social media marketing as part of a spectrum of marketing tools which answer specific strategies aims and objectives”. She adds that “although students are extremely engaged with social media in their daily lives, in our academic context we show how to audit digital marketing and propose social media applications as part of integrated marketing communications.”
According to Radclyffe-Thomas, forming a strong online social media presence is essential for anyone seeking a career in fashion. “Curating your own social media presence offers showcasing opportunities for your own content and demonstrates your aesthetic and tone of voice. More employers are asking for innovative applications such as video CVs and so developing and recognizing the skills students may have outside formal education and leveraging these to differentiate yourself can only be positive.”
These employers include Everlane, the clothing startup that tried to hire people via social media. The online brand that launched in 2010 selling well-designed t-shirts, ties and bags in lavish fabrics for a lower price than competitors has grown into one of the most innovative companies in the industry by following their mission of “radical transparency” and really understanding how to communicate with their customers in this digital age.
The company is in fact so in tune, that earlier this year they tried hiring people using Snapchat. “We ran this as a smaller trial to see how people would engage with it and whether it would be an effective way to gauge potential hires”, explained via email Everlane’s creative designer Alexandra Spunt. “It turned out really well! People put together 60-90 stories and it was a great way to get a fast sense of their experience, personality, creativity and skill set. In general, Snapchat is a channel we’re really excited about – it’s a natural platform for our transparency mission – so you’ll likely continue to see us using it in creative ways. I was told several of the applicants made it far down the hiring funnel.”
When asked about the importance of social media presence when hiring, Spunt said “I think today your social media profile is inevitably an extension of your identity, so I assume most hiring managers will look at a candidate’s profile to understand them better. But there are many people on my team who have no presence at all, while others are very active.”
Being active on social media, building a strong online presence, and developing a personal brand is indeed important for someone looking for a creative job in fashion, and might even be the deal breaker when companies decide which candidates get a call-back for the interview. But this might not always be the case. Consider mine, if you will: my activity on social media is close to none and I have less than 200 followers on Facebook, yet I have recently been hired as copywriter for a successful eyewear brand. I have found, therefore, that what matters is keeping constantly informed and understanding the importance of these social channels, and how they help brands grow in relation to the role that you wish to undertake in a company.
I think Gia Coppola said it best: "Everyone is always telling me to be on brand. But it’s like, who cares if I want to snapchat my cat taking a shit? Life isn’t about being on brand or having your social media presence suck the living soul out of you. Life is about living! It’s about being in the moment. It’s what happens when you’re busy making other plans!"