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Emplifi - What brands can learn from the Met Gala

Evelyn Taylor — Community Manager, Emplifi

What brands can learn from the Met Gala

Today, influencers and social media shape the world’s most popular fashion event

Since the Met Gala’s inception in 1948, the annual fundraiser has evolved from an exclusive, upscale event to a global spectacle influencing consumer behavior and industries (beyond just fashion). For brands, celebrities, media outlets, influencers, and fans, the real red carpet is social media. 

According to Emplifi data, the Met Gala was mentioned over one million times across social media channels on the day of the event in 2023. That’s a lot of coverage, largely due to the event’s structure, promo, and strategic partnerships. Though the Met Gala is an expensive, global event, its secrets to success can serve as inspiration for brands looking to elevate their social media reach, conversion, and brand awareness.

Here are some of the Met Gala’s most valuable elements that brands can integrate into their own marketing strategies.

Diverse influencer collaboration styles at the Met Gala

While actors and singers once ruled the Met Gala, social media influencers have taken on a much bigger role in recent years — and not just to post about their involvement on social media. Some creators act as interviewers on the red carpet, while others show up as guests and brand ambassadors with bold designer looks.

This growth and diversity in creator participation reflects a broader trend in the creator economy: for brands, there’s no one right way to work with an influencer. While asking a creator to post on Instagram holding your product might generate some buzz, getting creative with different channels, content types, and collaboration styles caters to longer-term success. Give the influencer freedom to show up authentically to their audience, and weave your brand into their own narrative.

In a similar vein, experimenting with different types of creators can be a more budget-friendly, effective option for brands. Micro-influencers and nano-influencers often know their followers well and post in a specific niche, offering brands a way to target specific audiences on social media and boost campaign engagement.

Behind-the-scenes content for engagement and affinity 

Red carpet interviews and influencer collaborations alike make viewers at home feel like they’re a part of the Met Gala, even after it takes place. YouTuber Emma Chamberlain embodies this trend through her witty, casual chats with stars as a Vogue interviewer at the event, as well as through backstage social media content. 

Today’s consumers value authenticity more than ever, and giving them an inside look into your brand’s culture, operations, and products fosters transparency and a sense of inclusivity. Incorporate more raw, behind-the-scenes content into your marketing strategy (especially on social media) to boost customer loyalty.

In 2021, Vogue published a vlog-style YouTube video following Emma as she got ready for her first Met Gala, showing off her style while sharing what parts of the night she was most excited about. The video has racked up almost eight million views to date. This type of behind-the-scenes video content can work well for brands in any industry; show your customers a day in the life at your company, how your products are created, or ways your own team incorporates those products into their daily lives. 

Emma Chamberlain Gets Ready for the Met Gala

Longer-form videos can also provide a deeper way to connect with your online audience. According to Emplifi reporting, Instagram Reels longer than 90 seconds saw 36% higher view counts, on average, than Reels shorter than 30 seconds in 2023. As social media marketing expert Lika Tan says, it makes you feel like you’re FaceTiming with a friend.

Sparking online discussions and social listening

Social media discourse is the bread and butter of the Met Gala’s success. Users are eager to share their opinions on celebrity interviews, their favorite looks from the event, and their takes on viral moments. Brands also keep a pulse on this conversation, looking for ways to integrate Met Gala trends into their own marketing content each year. If there’s one thing to take away from the Met Gala’s presence online, it’s that social listening is a must-have for brands.

Viral moments like Emma Chamberlain’s hilarious interview with Jack Harlow in 2022 and Kim Kardashian’s all-black, face-covering Balenciaga look in 2021 gave way to a landslide of memes on social media. Brands like Zomato and Subway joined in, creating their own take on memes to engage their online audiences. Staying up to date on pop culture moments beyond the Met Gala, and what your target audience is talking about on social media in general, is a smart way to find inspiration for future marketing campaigns while improving your existing content to be more relevant.

Social listening can also help your brand discover user-generated content (UGC) from your customer community. From TikTok product reviews to Instagram posts featuring your product in action, UGC often serves as more memorable and trustworthy marketing content.

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas features guest UGC from social media across its marketing channels to drive bookings.

Collaboration across the brand ecosystem

Apart from the celebrity glamor, the Met Gala joins forces with other brands, blending fashion with social media. Custom hashtags and brand-sponsored filters on Snapchat and Instagram give partners a piece of the spotlight while supporting the Met Gala’s overall online buzz. While event sponsors are often apparel brands like Chanel and H&M, major companies in other industries, like Apple, Warner Bros., and Instagram, have also sponsored the Met Gala in previous years.

Chinese singer-songwriter and dancer Cai Xukun attended the Met Gala in 2023, generating buzz as a Prada brand ambassador with the hashtag #PradaXKUN.

As a brand, collaborating with other companies can be mutually beneficial for a variety of reasons. If you work at an apparel company, co-posting with a cosmetics brand on Instagram or even adding an influencer into the mix can drastically improve reach within your target audience.

The Met Gala is a celebration of diverse brands and creators, which is exactly why it’s evolved over the decades. Don’t limit your marketing efforts; always make space to experiment and look for potentially valuable partnerships with other brands and creators.

Especially to smaller businesses and creators, the Met Gala might feel like it exists in another, glitzy, VIP-only universe. But, a deeper understanding of its keys to success reveals a base strategy that brands can learn from and leverage pieces of to reach their own marketing goals.

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