The Meteoric Rise Of “Best Friend” Marketing

By Sophia Littledale

One of my favourite social media-related reads of the last year appeared on The Business of Fashion website and is entitled “How BFF Marketing Became the M.O. for Women’s Direct-to-Consumer Brands”. If you can get past the long title, it’s worth a read as it perfectly sums up what’s going on in social media community engagement right now.

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To summarise, the article explains how direct to consumer women’s fashion and lifestyle brands such as Goop, Reformation and Net-a-Porter use a chatty, informal and inclusive language style on social media to set themselves apart from stuffy and formal brands. Despite being businesses, the brands featured  communicate as though they are "best friends" with their follower base.

Now, I wouldn’t for a second suggest that such an informal style suits all brands (funeral directors, take note), but there are elements that can be adapted and used by many organisations from a wide range of sectors on social media.


Here’s some thought starters of how to incorporate the best friend style into your social media communication:

1. Use social media to discover what your customers really want

Firstly, the article highlights how Reformation, a clothing manufacturer and retailer, uses social media to listen to what clothing lines are being demanded by its customers, and reacts by actually making the products. This highlights the ability of social media to provide an “instant feedback loop” with customers.

Conducting social listening or even actively seeking feedback can be used on social media across a wide range of sectors. For example, a restaurant can ask customers if a daily special should become a regular menu item, or a beauty brand can enquire what colour lipstick they should introduce next.

2. Use inclusive and everyday language to encourage engagement

Another feature of the brands highlighted in the article was the inclusive language used, which makes the communication sound more like a witty friend than a company trying to sell a product.

For example, Australian clothing label, Realisation Par, uses an intimate language style that is honest and inclusive: “This shirt has been sent to every one of our girlfriends: the tall ones, the tiny ones, the ones with boobs and the ones without and no matter who puts it on, it just works!”.

The point is, if you can talk to customers honestly, as though they are one of your friends, it feels like less of a hard sell and more like a back and forward chat, which in turn can build customer engagement.

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3. Cultivate a club  

Finally, the brands featured in the article make their follower base feel as though they are part of a club. This is done through the informal tone of voice already mentioned, but also through branded hashtags. For example, Reformation’s branded hashtag, #refbabes, is light hearted and allows customers to feel they are part of a wider movement.

Since Instagram permitted users to follow hashtags back in December 2017, it’s worth consistently using a branded hashtag on all posts and encourage its use; something which is done admirably by cosmetics brand Beauty Pie: “Tag your Beauty Pie looks using #mybeautypie and join the conversation #piegirl #pieguy if you’re one of us”.

In summary, while best friend marketing on social media isn’t for everyone, especially those that don’t have a strong back story, there are some elements that can be adopted to help bring a more caring and inclusive feel to the social media feed of a brand or organisation.  

For help and advice with your social media tone of voice, get in touch with us.