Excerpts from speakers at the Fashion140 conference. (Published Friday, May 6, 2011)
While fashion’s use of social media certainly isn’t new, fashion brands are beginning to assess their return on investment (ROI) for engaging on Twitter, Facebook and blogging. Some brands are certainly finding more success than others—and many are left shaking their heads about what works and what doesn’t in terms of marketing in the online space.
At the Fashion 140 conference held at Lincoln Center this week, social media masters attempted to decipher what leads to increased sales. Brands that have been able to find an organic voice in the social media space seem to be finding the most success.
Carol Brodie (above), founder of Carol Brodie Jewelry said at the conference, “Social media is the new Vogue.” She said she actually sees a spike in the sales of her jewelry every time she makes a post about a piece on Facebook or writes a blog on her website.
Rich Tong, Tumblr’s Fashion Director, pointed to “OscarPRGirl”, otherwise known as Erika Bearman, Oscar de la Renta’s Director of Public Relations, as a brand success story for her ability to share a luxury brand with a mass audience online. “She does a really great job of humanizing the Oscar brand,” he said. "[Her Tumblr] is a very personal look at her life and behind her job at Oscar ... She talks to you like a friend. When she posts content, it doesn’t come off as a PR play, but rather just another friend sharing information.”
Hong Sun, East Coast sales director of Twitter emphasized the importance of creating a conversation. "Invest your time and be willing to have a two way dialogue,” he said. Rebeccca Goodman the voice of @DieselUSA, and head of Press and Publicity at Diesel (above) said that she sees a direct correlation between Diesel’s Twitter activity and sales. She cautioned, “What works well for one company isn’t necessarily going to work well for another.”
David Sutula, the VP of digital strategy for marketing firm 9Threads says that success in social media comes from a sustained and planned program. "In marketing, we never get asked the ROI of TV or the ROI of print or radio, and it's probably because back in the Don Draper era, somebody realized that that was unknowable,” he said. “Social media is not predictive -- it's descriptive. You can only tell me that you did well with something, you can’t tell me you are going to do well with something. More to the point, for every time that someone tells me that they did great with a campaign and look at how many followers we have, I can show you 15 or 20 people who dumped a ton of money into this stuff and it didn’t work at all. It's usually because they are looking for that positive ROI out of the gate.”
And while the ROI of social media might be unknowable, one thing seems certain, brands that continue to avoid the glare of social media altogether might be the most at risk.