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As Brands Put More Resources Into Social Media, You Can Expect a Harder Sell

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Not your grandma's Oscar

For the past several years, fashion brands have been scrambling to do innovative-fun-cool-sexy-exciting stuff on social media.

Many of them have been pretty successful: Ever since launching the Art of the Trench micro-site back in 2009, Burberry has been perpetually held up as the gold standard for innovative social content. The Art of the Trench seeded Sartorialist-shot photos of chic people around the globe wearing their Burberry trench coats in stylish ways, and also allowed brand fans to upload their own pics. The campaign tapped into everything digital content loves: street style, fashion "influencers," crowd sourcing, and blogger-brand collabs, and it's been imitated in various iterations ever since.

Kate Spade has a fun and wildly successful "live colorfully" Twitter campaign, based on the brand's tagline, that has folded in Instagram images and their Pinterst page as those channels have grown.

And Oscar de la Renta improbably reinvigorated his ladies-who-lunch image by allowing his witty, young, midriff-baring PR star Erika Bearman to run the brand's addictively chatty Twitter feed.

So social media has proven itself effective at making luxury brands accessible to a younger audience and strengthening a brand's lifestyle content. For a while, that was enough. But WWD is reporting that as brands pile resources and cash in these kind of social media efforts, they're getting more pressure to get a return on their investment.

According to WWD, few brands are seeing significant sales result from their postings on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other sites. And they are getting antsy. "The next 12 months are the make or break time for social media," an industry analyst told the publication.

The pressure is leading some brands to experiment with a harder sell. When Oscar de la Renta relaunched their website last month, "part of the plan was ... to see if Bearman could drive sales," WWD reports, even though she hadn't promoted branded product in the past. The revamped site now includes a feature called "OscarPRGirl's Picks."

Investing in social platforms for commerce has proven a risky endeavor in the past: As previously reported, Gap, J.C. Penney, Nordstrom, and ASOS have all closed their Facebook stores in the past year. As one industry expert put it, trying to sell stuff on Facebook "was like trying to sell stuff to people while they're hanging out with their friends at the bar."

On the other hand, sites like The Fancy are banking on a consumer mentality that leads to "scroll-like-buy" purchases.

What do you think? Would you be likely to un-follow or un-fan a brand that was constantly prompting you to buy stuff through their social media channels? Speak your mind in the comments.

· Social Media's Issue: Does It Drive Sales? [WWD]
· 8 Fashion Brands Creating the Best Online Content [Racked]
· So it Turns Out No One Is Into Facebook Shopping [Racked]