Lessons from Athleisure: How Small Brands Can Use Instagram Influencers

Ellen Borza is a Senior Online PR Specialist with Web Talent Marketing, a full-service digital marketing agency. 

As a small fashion brand, one of your primary goals should be to increase brand awareness; you need to get your story out there. But because you aren’t a household name yet, it’s also crucial that you get in front of potential customers on a budget.

Instagram is widely accepted as the social channel for the fashion industry. With Insta Stories, Instagram combines the best of Snapchat (unfiltered, ephemeral nature) with the best of Instagram (curated content), enabling you to focus on growing one channel. New fashion brands don’t have the time to build up multiple social channels.

Influencers are one of the most effective strategies for growing brand awareness, especially for up and coming brands.

The athleisure industry offers great lessons that are applicable to any new fashion company, regardless of whether or not you are an apparel brand. The athleisure market is so saturated, but these brands have successfully used Instagram influencers to separate themselves from the noise.

Find the Story That Sets Your Brand Apart

Outdoor Voices knew it needed to stand out from big competitors like Nike, so the brand went in a new direction. They are all about doing things and less about being competitive. Influencers show their followers how Outdoor Voices’ clothing helps them accomplish their goals of getting out there and doing things. Outdoor Voices works with influencers who each have a unique point of view, like Liz of Sequins & Stripes, a mom and wife who busy parents can identify with. Outdoor Voices knows its customers aren’t athletes running marathons. Its customers are people who want clothing that they can live in.

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outdoor voices

Find the story that will set your brand apart, and leverage it through influencers. As a small brand, you might not have the budget for influencers with tens of thousands of followers. If you can find a small influencer with an active community, you can get your brand or product in front of new eyes. Work with multiple influencers who can share your story through their own unique message.

Have Micro-Influencers Take Over Your IG Story

Beyond Yoga is a luxury athleisure brand competing with the likes of Lululemon and Athleta. It regularly features influencers on its Instagram feed wearing Beyond Yoga apparel. Still images can only go so far for a yoga apparel brand like Beyond Yoga. People need to see how the clothing moves. In addition to still images, the brand uses influencers in Insta Stories to show their clothing in action, something that can only be done with video.

beyond yoga

Have micro influencers take over your Instagram account and share an Insta story that incorporates your product into their everyday life. This allows you to leverage the authenticity associated with Snapchat, while still maintaining a curated Instagram feed. You can also have a an influencer create a story on their own Instagram account and tag you. Users who click on your Instagram handle in the story are taken to your account. Insta stories are especially great if your product is something like an app that needs to be demonstrated to new users.

Use Branded #Hashtags

Alala is another activewear line that regularly features bloggers and Instagram influencers in its feed. Alala uses a branded hashtag #alalaallday in all of its influencer photos. When people click on the hashtag, they can see any photo that uses the hashtag. Hashtags are ideal for getting your content in front of more people.

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Use a branded hashtag when working with influencers to market your business. Make it unique to your company but easy to read so the hashtag is associated with your business. Alala uses #alalaallday, and Outdoor Voices uses #doingthings to align with its belief that being active without putting pressure on yourself is most important. Make sure to also put the hashtag in your Instagram bio. This encourages people to use the hashtag when sharing your product in a photo.

New fashion companies, even businesses that don’t sell apparel, can use influencers to grow their Instagram presence and brand awareness. In fact, they may have a greater impact in terms of engagement than influencers with large followings. Implement these Instagram strategies from athleisure brands to grow your organic reach.

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