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Rebecca Minkoff Makes the Most of Instagram

Uri Minkoff believes the social platform was largely responsible for the brand’s 100 percent year-over-year footwear sales increase at retail.

Rebecca Minkoff cofounder and chief executive officer Uri Minkoff made a sweeping statement: He believes that Instagram was largely responsible for the brand’s 100 percent year-over-year footwear sales increase at retail, from spring 2011 to spring 2012.

A brand crediting Instagram as instrumental in company growth when it’s been up for debate whether social media delivers a return on investment is sure to raise some eyebrows. But Minkoff sees the social platform as useful from a business perspective for fashion and luxury brands, with very low overhead.

The brand’s Instagram account, a combined effort between Rebecca Minkoff herself and a social-media team, has 100,000 followers, a number that grows by 500 to 2,000 fans a day (the platform overall has more than 100 million users, 70 percent of which are female).

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“Instagram is revolutionizing the luxury community. It’s become the social-media platform for luxury goods,” Uri Minkoff said, citing the fact that the medium hits a number of “core human values” as the reason it’s seen such success.

It’s also a powerful way to engage with consumers, if a brand has a specific viewpoint.

When Rebecca Minkoff started to use Instagram a year ago, the team made it a case to focus activity around its footwear offerings. Minkoff calls this year’s Jan. 7 launch of “Shoetography” — a daily update featuring the shoes Rebecca was wearing that day — a “game changer.” Each post started to get thousands of “hearts,” and he realized that something as simple as posting a pair of shoes was a successful way to garner engagement in a short amount of time.

This led to a partnership with Bloomingdale’s that used Instagram posts to leverage more footwear sales — with likes and comments from followers heavily considered by the sales, design and merchandising teams. Minkoff said the company saw good sell-through rates, and the department store had to reorder the fall 2012 styles that Instagram focused on.

The brand launched its first ad campaign for the spring 2012 season in February with Instagram images, and the winner of an Instagram contest was flown out to attend the Rebecca Minkoff runway show earlier this month. Minkoff contends that the latter helped grow followers on the platform by almost 14,000 fans in one week — because it “allowed them to become part of New York Fashion Week.”

But Minkoff wants to take it a step further. He revealed that the brand launched a subscription-based weekly promotion several weeks ago, where a surprise offer is revealed on Instagram on a weekly basis. To access the offer, consumers must subscribe or log in, which also increases the e-mail subscriber base, in addition to sales and consumer engagement.

“The future of Instagram is [figuring out] how to align it more toward sales,” Minkoff said.