The Designers Who Got The Most Social Media Buzz During Fashion Week [Infographic]

They sewed. They showed. They conquered. But which designers got the biggest social media boost during NYFW Spring 2013?

We followed 30 designers during the week’s runway shows, presentations and parties, and when every last follower and fan was counted, we found a surprising winner: Instagram, where several designers saw more than a 500% increase in followers during NYFW.

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fashion week social media infographic

Still a relative newcomer, Instagram made its NYFW debut last year, and this year, prominent designers – including fashion legends Carolina Herrera and Tracey Reese – still lacked an account. But many established designers – like Rebecca Minkoff, Michael Kors and Tory Burch – had already amassed a significant following before the first stiletto hit the runway.

Who saw the biggest Insta-bump? The designers with the most to gain: Badgley Mischka and Mara Hoffman. These designers started with lower Instagram follower counts and increased by 600% and 800%, respectively. The fifth-generation fashion house, J. Mendel, started its Instagram account just days before the opening show, and came in third, increasing its follower count by 500%.

Badgley Mischka’s impressive increase may stem from using Instagram to give fans an inside peek into NYFW: Mark (Badgley) and James (Mischka) strategising about the show order, backstage hair and makeup, and celebrities like Lauren Conrad and Olympian Aly Raisman wearing their designs.

Behind-the-scenes photos might be the first step, but is there more to the success? Perhaps it’s a combination of social media savvy and cost conscious appeal: many designers who saw a sizeable increase in followers offer more affordable clothing. Max Azria’s BCBGMAXAZRIA and Donna Karan’s DKNY both feature clothing at reasonable prices and both have an impressive number of Instagram followers; Richard Chai, one of the first designers to collaborate with Target back in 2008, boosted his following by nearly 12%.

Designers also leveraged another image-heavy channel: Pinterest. While Zac Posen had the largest percentage change in Pinterest followers, the gold pin goes to Peter Som, who began NYFW with an impressive 1.4 million followers and closed with a towering 1.6 million.

We didn’t forget about the reigning social media giants, Twitter and Facebook, but even relatively new designers began NYFW with large numbers, allowing little room for significant growth on these platforms. Most designers saw an increase of less than 5% in Facebook fans; Zac Posen, Nicholas K, and Jill Stuart all began with less than 10,000 fans and saw the largest growth. Rebecca Minkoff started with over 60,000 Twitter followers and ended with close to 100,000, posting an impressive 47% increase. In her Twitter feed, in addition to showcasing her designs, she gives her followers a glimpse into her personal life as a successful designer.

What can other businesses learn from NYFW? First, if you haven’t already, create an Instagram account and use it to give your followers a behind-the-scenes view of your brand. Second, talk with your followers rather than at them: the designers with the biggest gains engaged their followers with questions rather than simply broadcasting their designs. And finally, with the right approach, industry events can be a great way to buoy your brand’s social media presence – Insta-ntly.

Now check out Gant’s Galapagos-inspired summer collection >

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