The Rise and Revelation of DKNY PR Girl

DKNY PR Girl Twitter Page

If DKNY PR Girl sounds familiar, it may be because it sounds very similar to OscarPRGirl. They have similar handles, both are managed by the respective brand’s public relations executive, they each have their own avatars and both have moved beyond twitter to open tumblr accounts, delve into YouTube and more! Most importantly, both have proven to be very successful strategies for the brands not only in acquiring a huge following, but also in providing a particular voice and identity associated with the brand and engaging in conversations with their followers.

DKNY PR Girl began her Twitter account in 2009 and within two years amassed 360,000 followers before ever revealing who was behind the account. The tweets consisted of an inside look into the inner workings behind the DKNY brand with a very distinct voice that proved to be both comedic and informative with a flair of Carrie Bradshaw-esque lifestyle that many girls and women would love to be and would love to know more about. As the NYTimes profile on DKNY PR Girl put it “DKNY PR girl seemed to exemplify the fun-loving, fast-paced life of a fashion public relations gal living in New York City. Hers was a sassy diary written from inside the fashion bubble.” While PRverdict.com dubs DKNY PR Girl’s tweets as “exclusively aimed to teen girls” the site certainly cannot dismiss the followers it has built with this type of content. It works! Although seemingly mundane and trivial, its simplicity and hilarity do attract people to not only follow but also to engage.

After two years of anonymity, DKNY PR Girl, revealed herself in true social media style via a video on YouTube!

The video reveals Aliza Licht, the vice president of global communications at Donna Karan, as the mind, voice and fingers behind DKNY PR Girl. As senior vice president of global communications Licht is in charge not only of social media accounts of DKNY PR Girl but also of managing key public relations initiatives including Fashion Week. The video focuses on the most content-heavy time of the brand and also the most exciting and chaos-filled time of the year that I’m sure many followers and budding-fashionistas would want to know about. PRverdict doesn’t agree much with the content of the video as it seems to focus on mundane tasks done by Licht with no mention of any team that helps her out to maneuver this global prestige brand. While PRverdict is right on point and it certainly is impossible for Licht to be doing all those tasks while still managing the communications arm of Donna Karan and sending out hundreds of tweets per day, what PRverdict seems to forget, DKNY PR Girl’s video is a reflection of the tweets she has become known for and the tweets that have enabled her to capture the over now 385,063 followers on twitter. While I am sure Licht does more than just answer phones, move around seat assignments and puts up signs on cabs, these simple tasks are the ones that come with comedic flare and are more relatable, easily communicated and truth be told what actually do consume many a PR reps’ time during Fashion Week.

SMW2012-Hearst-06

Aliza Licht, DKNY PR Girl
Photo Credit: Flickr of Social Media Week

I am thoroughly impressed by Licht’s dedication to this twitter account which also eventually rolled into a tumblr account. It takes much time and dedication to constantly provide content for these two platforms. Licht has a true understanding of the activity needed for each and as she noted on her video she is “addicted to Twitter,” and a personality that isn’t, may not succeed as much as she has. In a recent WWD post, it noted that DKNY PR Girl “tweeted 1,105 times in February [2012] more than triple the second and third most active [fashion] tweeters, Kate Spade and Betsey Johnson, with 365 and 352 messages for the month.” This certainly proves Licht’s addiction to Twitter and why she has not only gotten a huge following but has also received much notice by the media. Licht has even recently won for Best Twitter and Best Blog by a Fashion Brand at the Fashion 2.0 Awards.

I know many brands who struggle with finding managers of their own social media accounts, the beauty of DKNY PR Girl is that the company gave her free rein, she is truly addicted to twitter and through it she has found her own voice that comes across as “girly and intimate (morning routine, weekend mani-pedis and “Gossip Girl” critiques) but knowledgeable. She’ll discuss inner workings under the hashtag #PR101, as in ‘Attention to detail is everything. The wrong colored binder clip can destroy your presentation'” (NYTimes.com). Her Twitter and Tumblr account not only reflects her role in the DKNY brand, but also her personal life and her inner musings. It is not just about the clothing brand, but provides followers an insider’s view into what it’s like to work for the premiere New York City brand that is DKNY.

In an interview with Fashionablymarketing.me, Licht’s advice to creating social engagement and inspiration among fans and followers is just that, engagement. “Social media is about engagement. It’s not just me, me, me. It’s about genuine interest in other people. I have grown to sincerely care about so many people I have met through this medium and many have become friends in real life. I think if you ask most people what they love about Twitter it’s the fact that they have met such amazing people- people they would have never had the opportunity to meet otherwise.”

Through these platforms, Licht has met key influencers like Mickey Boardman of Paper magazine, Ariel Foxman of InStyle and the socialite Marjorie Gubelmann. (NYTimes.com). They not only tweet at each other bust also have dinners together.  According to Licht, every one of her followers are true relationships she has built and she is known to respond to every tweet at her. In an article on TeenVogue.com, “[Licht] is devoted to her hundreds of thousands of followers, whom she calls her real friends. She reads all tweets directed at her and responds to most of them, frequently offering ‘PR 101’ advice.”

DKNYPRGirl Tumblr

Licht is so engaged and listens constantly to her fans and followers that her Tumblr account was created out of demand, not out of the brand’s need to get in on the action of a another social media platform. “The idea to start a blog genuinely came from my Twitter followers who expressed that they would love to see my images and tweets on a more permanent, visual platform.  I knew there were many brands already doing a great job on Tumblr and I really wanted mine to have a reason for being. Hence the tag line ‘When 140 characters isn’t enough.’  When something comes from a real place people react well to it. Tumblr in essence is an extension of my Twitter.  I actually like to think of them as brother and sister, helping each other along the way,” (fashionablymarketing.me).

What I take out of the success of DKNY PR Girl are three key things: 1) The need for the brand to trust in the manager and provide free rein and an understanding that sometimes tweeting solely about the brand just does not work. 2) The one who manages the brand has to incorporate social media into his/her everyday life. It just does not stop because you have checked out of work. It takes devotion and according to Licht, an addiction. 3) Engaging and listening to her followers were key. Licht understood that the key to social media platforms was not to push out messages but to engage with followers. As a result not only has she made true relationships that of course don’t hurt to have for the brand itself but out of demand created a Tumblr account to extend her own voice and personality from Twitter. I think many brands can truly learn from the success of DKNY PR Girl.

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Sephora Undergoes Social and Mobile Makeover

Sephora

Sephora Store front on Fifth Avenue in New York City
Photo Credit: Flick of Diego Azevenodo

Sephora, the beauty behemoth that has led in prestige beauty retail, has now staged a takeover in the media and social arena. According to mashable.com, just three days ago, Sephora, a subsidiary of conglomerate LVMH, announced a slew of digital changes including: a newly revamped website with the integration of Pinterest and Instagram, an updated mobile site, and a program that will bring iPads to stores and iPod Touch devices into the hands of Sephora sales associates.

According to Julie Bornstein, senior vice-president or Sephora Digital, ““Our goal is to make beauty fun and exciting for our customers. We’re constantly looking at new technologies and ways to improve the shopping experience – it’s all about making shopping easier, better, and more enjoyable” (luxurydaily.com). While Bornstein claims the brand was one of the first retail brands to have had a web presence, it is interesting to note they did not implement such changes as mobile renovation and use of iPads and iPod touch earlier. However the timing of all these changes happening together and taking advantage of new growing social tools like Pinterest and Instagram, make these digital programs as a whole much more impactful. it truly looks like Sephora is once again taking over the digital realm but also leading the way in technological innovation in the beauty retail industry.

PINTEREST

Not only has Sephora added a “Pin It” button to their products on their website that customers can use to pin on their own boards, the beauty retail brand is working with Sephora employees to create their own Pinterest boards which shoppers can browse to see what are the “insider favorites.” Bornstein believes this is a key feature, “these are people who get to try every product, which gives their opinions of what products are best a little more weight” (mashable.com).

INSTAGRAM

Sephora is using Instragram to reveal a behind-the-scenes look at its staff and upcoming trends.

What I like most about Sephora’s use of the above tools is a unique strategy and content to make consumers want to follow Sephora on these platforms. With so many social media platforms out there, many brands can get confused on how to use what sometimes end up using all tools with the same content across all platforms. However, Sephora plays on the strengths of each tool and what current users already use and look for on these tools. In addition, Sephora has the assets and activity that can help the provide continuous appropriate content for Pinterest and Instagram.

WEBSITE & MOBILE RENOVATIONS

Each product offered on the website has now been tagged and indexed with 25 different characteristics to help consumers narrow down and search for products faster. In addition the site offers an additional 80,000 more additional images, product quick-views, color views and time-saving check-outs (luxurydaily.com).

Additionally, the site can also help customers keep track items in stock in stores as well as their purchases and samples received in-store and online for ease of purchases and future ones. These are all enabled on both the website and mobile site.

IPADS, IPHONES & IPOD TOUCH

Sephora is testing an iPad program where 20 stores nationwide have been equipped with iPads at their Beauty Centers to help customers navigate through the thousands of products to choose from as well as the services offered at their Beauty Studio.

Customers browsing through the store can also get in on the tech renovation on their own iPhones. By scanning products with an iPhone, customers can immediately read reviews about those products.

Sales associates have been armed with the iPod Touch to immediately reference the website for more product information, help clients find and research more about products, and use for purchases. This has been in test phase for the past six months, according to mashable.com.

Sephora has seen an increase of purchases and visits to its site through various platforms and these changes are just making it easier for customers to do so and enhancing both their in-store and online experience with the retailer. There has been a 300% increase of mobile shopping on the site, 70% of which come from iOS devices. iPad traffic to the site has increased 400% in Q1 2012 over the same time period last year and 20% of all traffic to sephora.com come from mobile devices (mashable.com).

“We’re bridging the online and offline worlds, and the iPads are another tool that lets customers get the best of both,” said Bornstein (luxurydaily.com). While Sephora has certainly embraced the advancement in technology and the digital world it has strategically done so in a way that does not leave their brick and mortar stores behind. This is certainly a key strategy that many brands can learn from. Sephora is listening to their customers and using these tools and platforms to enhance their overall experience with the brand. Like Neiman Marcus  that has used social media platforms to bring in foot traffic to their department stores, Sephora is not only keeping their online customers online and their in-store customers in the store. They are fusing both worlds together to enhance the experience of every type of customer and to possibly entice even new ones to come along!

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Peter Som is Refinery29.com’s Pinterest “Account of the Day”

Peter Som Spring Summer 2010 Collection (84)

Designer Peter Som
Photo Credit: Flickr of Vavavoom

After having just written about designer Peter Som’s activity on Pinterest, one of the more active luxury designers on Pinterest that I follow, Refiner29.com today named his account, “Pinterest Account of the Day.” What the site loved most about Som’s activity on Pinterest, was the revelation of his many interests. With over 50 boards on his account, Som provides a glimpse into his creative world. it feels like a behind-the-scenes, a backstage look, a preview into his creative studio. According to the site, Som is one of the first adopters of Pinterest and if other designers are taking notice, his example is one to follow. Considering Burberry is also an early user, I have to admit I like Peter Som’s approach of tapping the designer as the user and owner of the account. It provides a more personal perspective into the brand and the designer. The thought of following the Pinterest account of Christopher Bailey would be very exciting and provide a more personal connection into the creative mind of the Burberry brand.

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Neiman Marcus Scavenger Hunt via Foursquare

Manolo Blahnik 2010, luxorium

Photo Credit: Flickr of Luxorium

Has the buzz and talk around foursquare died down? I haven’t heard or read about it much lately and neither did I think of even exploring it further on this blog. However as I continued to do some more research on luxury department stores after previously blogging about Bergdorf’s Goodman’s social media programs, I was pleasantly surprised to read about Neiman Marcus‘s recent program with foursquare and Manolo Blahnik. In fact, foursquare seems to a favorite social app of the department store.

Neiman Marcus first began using foursquare in late 2011 in conjunction with its shoe and handbag event. Through the foursquare challenge, consumers who checked-in at a Neiman Marcus location were alerted if they were within the vicinity of a Nancy Gonzalez clutch and where to search for it. Those who found the hidden treasures got to keep the clutch.  Then just last month Neiman Marcus decided again to use foursquare in a digital scavenger hunt in partnership with Manolo Blahnik. Through the Blahnik Book Foursquare Hunt, customers who checked-in to a Neiman Marcus store were provided  instructions by the foursquare app on where to find a placard hidden within the retail area. The first customer who found the hidden placard would win the coveted Manolo’s New Shoes book written by Blahnik himself with contributions from industry names like Grace Coddington and Suzy Menkes.

It seems the choice to use foursquare as their social tool to engage with customers was a result of seeing where the customers were engaging most with the brand. According to Gabrielle de Papp, VP of corporate public relations at Neiman Marcus, “We have early indications that many of our customers are eager to interact with us on Foursquare, and we intend to increase our activity on it going forward” (mashable.com).

What I love most was the conscious choice of Neiman Marcus to merge the social activities of their consumers into their retail space and using a simple tool like foursquare to do so. In the past, my entries have discussed engaging with consumers on the web and keeping them on some sort of online platform. Bergdorf virtually took their online consumers into the store via an interactive video. Neiman however, required customers to be in their retail space and at the same time kept engaging with their consumers via foursquare check-ins. Hosting the digital scavenger hunts during the store’s handbag and shoe event was definitely a tactic to drive more foot traffic  during the event but also to continue to engage with customers and make more of a one-on-one connection with their customers by rewarding them by being present.  I think providing such a thrilling experience combined with a great prize, enhances the customer experience and makes it more exciting and refreshing to be there and  will make customers want to keep on coming back for more. While a scavenger hunt may not be an activity that the older generation of customers Neiman has built over time, it certainly is capturing the attention and bringing in new and younger blood to engage with the store and keep on coming back for more.

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Peter Som on Pinterest

I’ve been perusing through Pinterest.com and trying to figure out how it works, how I could use it for my own work and also enjoying using it for my own personal enjoyment. Through my “play time” with this new platform I’ve noticed among the brands and designers I follow, a certain Peter Som is very active and constantly pops-up in my homepage of new pins whenever I log in.

Screenshot of Peter Som's Pinterest account

What I noticed was the amount of non-fashion content Som pins and how much architecture and interior items he likes to pin. I have even repinned a few of the spaces he posted on his boards into my own “Dream Spaces” board. He’s been able to compile some great photos of amazing houses, lush gardens, cool architectural spaces and interiors that I wish were in my own home. These boards make me wonder if Som’s own clothing designs are inspired by these more structural art forms or if he’s just a big fan of great spaces, such as myself. Then today it dawned on me that Som could possibly be in the works to partner with brands to create “Peter Som” branded furnitures or design interior spaces of hotels like Missoni. Then, as I was going through his website, I noticed that Som has partnered with Sferra, a luxury bedding and linen brand. And of course on his Pinterest account, he has a board dedicated to his linen with Sferra. Who knows, his partnership with Sferra could just be the beginning and it could blossom into much more… furniture designer by Peter Som? a Peter Som designed house? a hotel or restaurant with signature Peter Som pieces? Pinterest reveals the taste choices and possible design direction of the designer.

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Luxury Department Stores Join Social Media

Bergdorf Goodman 2012 04, luxorium

Bergdorf Goodman Storefront
Photo Credit: Flickr of Luxorioum Luxury

I stumbled upon  luxurydaily.com‘s rankings of their top 10 choices when it comes to luxury marketers using social media. The article highlights key luxury brands from all industries that have been doing something right, when it comes to social media. I loved the insight the article gave into other brands and their programs.  What I found most interesting was the inclusion of a different type of luxury fashion brand — high-end department stores. Luxurydaily.com ranks Bergdorf Goodman and Harrod’s within their top 10 choices of top luxury brands using social media in Q3 of 2011. I don’t think I ever even thought of exploring premium department stores when writing this blog. Funnily enough though I have read of a few interesting projects Bergdorf’s has done especially in and around NYC.

Bergdorf Goodman’s use of social media seemed to have gotten notice with a few contests done on the store’s Facebook page. First, there was a contest to win Fendi’s color-block 2bag, then in partnership with Lucky magazine, Bergdorf launched a contest to choose the next model for their ad campaign of 5F, their younger set of designer collections, and win   $1000 gift card (thehighlow.com). To enter, you had to like the page and according to the highlow.com within 2 days the contest received 216 entries.

From that contest, Bergdorf then created built a second program where the winners of the said contest were included in an interactive video wearing designer duds. The video was created  with a storyline in mind of a group of friends shopping and trying on clothes. As online customers view the video, viewers can scroll over to find out the labels of clothes the winners were looking at or trying out and you could even click to buy the piece or share with friends (luxurydaily.com).

The video embedded here is the not the interactive one, to view it  and experience the interactive shopping experience go to http://bit.ly/oIeQNV. According to Clickthrough CEO/founder Abe McCallum, the partner of Bergdorf to create this video, “We always highly recommend this because it gives the consumer much more information to explore while watching” (luxurdaily.com). I loved the video and the concept! It seems to be a very unique that not many other brands have done. The video was very editorial, definitely kept to a storyline but makes shopping a little more appealing especially to the younger set.

This program also seems to be Bergdorf’s attempt to really connect to the new generation of consumers who use social media and are finding new and innovative ways to shop. I always thought of Bergdorf Goodman as the place for Upper East side ladies. It had an old world, old money type feel to it. But I believe it s trying to break those perceptions to appeal to all women.

Screenshot of Bergdorf Goodman's Shoes About Town campaign

I especially loved the department store’s “Shoes About Town” campaign using Instagram. The store, created an online map of NYC where the brand and consumers could post Instagram photos of shoes in various locations across the city. According to luxurydaily.com, the map was created to build awareness around the Bergdorf Goodman’s Shoe iPhone App, its Fall shoe book that was coming out at that time and its expanding shoe salon in NYC.

According to Bergdorf Goodman’s Social Media Manager, Cannon Hodge, “We noticed how Instagram users really liked photographing landscapes, accessories and other interests, so we came up with a way to appeal to the community while encouraging them to collect, explore and share in a medium that felt distinctly New York and Bergdorf Goodman,” (luxurydaily.com). What girl would not want to partake and interact with a campaign like this? Shoes, shopping and New York City? Sounds very Sex And The City!

The British luxury department store, Harrod’s, was on luxurydaily.com’s list for its content-creating efforts. During the Spring/Summer 2012 London Fashion Week,  Harrod’s launched The Review an online magazine focused on fashion-related content with styling tips and trends and of course the opportunity to shop online as you browse. In addition the retailer also awarded consumers on Twitter and Facebook on the brand’s various social media milestones.

Harrod's Department Store

Harrod's Department Store
Photo Credit: Flickr of Austrian Lancer

While Harrod’s efforts certainly don’t seem to be as innovative or out-of-the-box as Bergdorf Goodman’s, I do see why luxurydaily.com may have considered it a top luxury brand using social media at the time. First, in late 2011, surprisingly, there were still a lot of luxury brands hesitating to join social media and to join it in the right way. Second, by joining the world of social media, it also means that brands have to be content creators and be open to  accepting all types user-generated content. Creating content on a competitive level in different social media platforms is a new way of thinking for many brands and many businesses. It is essentially a sort of “editorial” arm of these brands that also turn into customer service and promotional opportunities. To constantly churn out content, means to also look at your business in a different way and provide a true voice and identity of your brand. In addition, opening up any brand, luxury or not, to user-generated content is opening up the doors to potential opportunities but also to unknown territory, as you do not know what to expect. So I salute Harrod’s in their small steps into creating a more social online environment for their current and potential consumers.

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Karl Lagerfeld Most Likely Not A Social Media User

It seems Harper’s Baazar is reading my mind when it comes to designers I have just written about and revealing a little bit of their own social media habits. I do go through a ton of different sites and magazines, but it seems this title captures bits and pieces that compliment this blog!

In my past explorations  it seems the designers and creative directors o are the instigators or the true minds and pushers behind adapting  or not, to social media.  Karl Lagerfeld has taken a slightly different approach. In a previous post, I discussed the iconic designer’s new content-rich site and very digital and social launch of his eponymous line. However, these different programs always placed the designer as the subject and never the author. Since following “Karl” on Facebook and Twitter it is clear that his updates and tweets are not written by him but by a team or a person, however the content is about him — his work, his projects, and his “Karl-isms.”

In Harper’s Bazaar My List: Karl Lagerfeld in 24 Hours the designer reveals a glimpse into his slightly eccentric life. He also let’s readers know  that he only reads on paper and that unlike Burberry’s Christopher Bailey, his day is not consumed by gadgets and technology. Instead the designer’s day is fueled by leisure and luxury and not one hint or sign-off any interest in social media or new technology whatsoever! The only technology that comes up is his iPhone, which seems to be every designer’s gadget of choice, if he had just but one gadget — calling Tom Ford.

Screenshot of Harpersbazaar.com "My List: Karl Lagerfeld in 24 Hours"

 

While this piece reveals a very small glimpse into the life of Lagerfeld, it tells me a little as to why Lagerfeld himself does not fuel his own updates and tweets. Lagerfeld is an encyclopedia of interesting and diverse content…in 24-hours he reveals some interesting aspects of his life that would certainly instigate a ton of comments and retweets! However, he himself does not seems to be a part of that social media world, nor does he seem to be interested in it. However, the team who works with him realizes the importance and possibilities social media can bring to his new Karl Lagerfeld line and the rich content they can get from the designer himself.

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Karl Lagerfeld Launches Content Driven Site

Karl Lagerfeld for LeWeb 2011

Designer Karl Lagerfeld
Photo Credit: Flickr of Marina Filipovic

The name Karl Lagerfeld immediately brings up images of that white ponytail, the big sunglasses, the gloves and the fan. He is most known as the designer of the iconic brand Chanel. He is also a chameleon and innovator when it comes to his own talents; he is a director, photographer, author and even designer of small islands (yes, you read that right, a designer of an island). So it’s a wonder that the Chanel, one of the luxury brand he designs for is not considered an innovator or leader when it comes to new online platforms and social media. In fact, in this arena the brand is quite average…a word certainly not synonymous with the designer or the brand.

In 2011, the digital innovation think tank L2, ranked Chanel as “Average” in their third annual Digital IQ Index for Fashion. The brand fell from its previous year ranking of “Gifted.” In 2010, Chanel was noted for being one of the few luxury brands to have experimented with advertising apps for the iPad and a had a strong growth rate of Facebook fans. In addition, Chanel’s Bleu de Chanel commercial on YouTube directed by Martin Scorsese also harnessed a lot of attention (L2 Digital IQ Index: Luxury, 2010). This past year however, while the brand made strides in mobile programs, Chanel still did not establish e-commerce or a presence on Twitter, two key areas that has helped other luxury brands grow its following and presence online (L2 Digital IQ Index: Fashion, 2011).

While Chanel seems lackluster in their online efforts, Lagerfeld seems to be making up for this decline with his namesake brand Karl, which debuted on January 2012 with net-a-porter.com. Karl is the lower priced line of Lagerfeld marked by a “decidedly youthful take on the designer’s distinct aesthetic” (luxury-insider.com). As Lagerfeld put it himself,  “[Karl is] very graphic; black and white, silver and grey. Chanel is me doing Chanel, Fendi is me doing Italy and this is me doing me, whatever that means. We are working on a lot of amazing ideas which are all about making luxury affordable and accessible. I’m very excited about bringing this vision to life with this brand” (luxury-insider.com).

Because Karl is all about affordable and accessible luxury with a more youthful take on clothing, it seems fitting then that unlike his Chanel brand, Lagerfeld and his team has made an effort to put this collection on the map when it comes to digital activities.

This has been done in several ways:

  1. The brand debuted it’s collection exclusively with online luxury retailer net-a-porter.com
  2. To drum up buzz and excitement leading up to the launch, net-a-porter created a microsite dedicated to Karl debut collection, where it hosted a variety of different digital initiatives including: a) a series of videos of a fictional plot line where the designer and his collection were missing. b) Net-a-Porter launched and encourage its users to subscribe to “Karl’s Kult” to receive updates on the whereabouts of the designer and his collection as well as enter exclusive competitions (Telegraph.co.uk). c) A countdown was prominent on the site, counting down to the number of seconds until the debut of the collection at 10:30am sharp on January 25, 2012. c) There was also the option to Karlify yourself where you could upload a picture and your photo is supplanted with a white wig, sunglasses, and a high white-collar (nymag.com).

To maintain and continue to build this online presence that began with net-a-porter.com, Lagerfeld’s team launched Karl.com a website not only dedicated to e-commerce, but a site that contains all things Karl in the “World of Karl.” What I love most about this world is the plethora of content and information it contains and the potential to create even more. The designer himself  lends to unique, interesting and sometimes controversial content that users will want to read and know about. Among these include remarks that range from scathing to outlandish (Vogue UK) and as such the designer is “almost as famous for his sound bites as for his lauded design work” (Vogue UK). The brand took advantage of this well-known trait of the designer and features his “Karlisms” on the site. Recent quotes from the designer include: “I know how annoying, impossible, and hard to please I can be. I wouldn’t recommend myself as a guest to anyone.” Then there is “The Real Life of Karl,” a series of photos of Karl in his everyday activities. Lastly, the site features other works of the designer in the world of culture and art as well as photos of his favorite places. I found out the designer’s favorite hotel in NYC, is The Mercer Hotel(which seems to be a favorite of several other fashion designers).

Screenshot of Karl Lagerfeld's Official Twitter Page

All this content is also available via the designer’s Facebook page and Twitter account. Lagerfeld’s quotable quotes are shared via Twitter, while photos of his work and “The Real Life of Karl” are shared on Facebook and users are then linked to the website. While all this content is  certainly seems more suited for the platforms of Facebook and Twitter, interestingly enough the content has received more attention on the website itself. Through a Google search, the immediate media stories I get are mostly about these unique features on the site and not on these social media platforms. What seems to draw me more to the website to get this information is the dynamism and visual appeal all this content is surrounded by. Personally, I would rather go to the site directly to get updates on Lagerfeld. I may not be the only one. Compared to some other luxury brands, Lagerfeld’s Twitter account only has around 21,000 followers, while his Facebook page has about 44,000 “Likes,” much lower numbers compared to other luxury brands.  Could this be a miss? Possibly. But it could also be the brand’s strategy to keep majority of their content under their own control and not go as wide or have too much of a mass appeal on mass social media platforms. While the Karl brand is certainly a lower price point than Chanel or Fendi, the designer himself will always be associated with luxury and by association, the Karl line will also be considered in the same realm and the brand may want to maintain that level of prestige.  By controlling most of the content in their own online space, this may just be a strategy for the brand. Regardless, I can completely appreciate the robust-content on the Karl.com site that keeps me wanting to come back for more. It’s engaging and enticing and it helps that I can shop at the same time.

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Katespade.com ‘s Mission to Engage

On a bright and sunny day here in NYC, it seems fitting to continue exploring the Kate Spade brand, a brand full of bright Spring ladylike colors worn by the witty and cheerful Kate Spade New York woman.

Previously, I delved into the brand’s success on Twitter and Tumblr. This time I’d like to see what Kate Spade has been doing on You Tube and its own website, which have been touted as very successful platforms for the brand.  Katespade.com underwent a redesign in March 2011, and with it, the brand’s goal was not just to about commerce but mainly engagement: “…we really wanted to engage with our girl. Of course commerce is important, but it’s not only about commerce. Engagement drives commerce. The more engaged a girl is with the brand, the more valuable she is to us,” said Kate Spade CEO, Craig Leavitt (mashable.com).

To drive engagement, Katespade.com increased the amount of branded content available. Previously, the site housed 10%  to 15% branded content, with the redesign however, the site was split 50-50 between branded content and commerce. “The idea is that allowing people to connect more with the brand at a much more intimate level will organically drive business,” according to Kate Spade Digital Marketing Manager, Cecilia Liu (mashable.com). This strategy has certainly been proven effective with an increase of sales growth in e-commerce and with the amount of time consumers are spending on the site. Leavitt claims “our overall comp[arable] sales growth has increased by 74% year-over-year. Ecommerce is growing even faster; it’s almost triple-digit growth,” (mashable.com).

Screenshot of katespade.com homepage

How has the brand made their site more engaging? For starters, the landing  page of the site immediately let’s you choose whether to shop or to blog, putting unique content up front and center and to par with shopping online.  In Mashable.com’s article “Katespade.com’s Redesign Puts Content on Par with Commerce,“it points out other unique features on the site that help the brand engage with their consumers including: internally generated content as well as links to off-site content that is visible throughout the site, making these links available in the commerce section, opportunities to “share” merchandise and content with others with “Like” and “Tweet” buttons. I personally love how the site integrates editorial-like features to highlight key items available for purchase like partnering with TV personality and stylist, Brad Goreski, and creating a section on their shopping site called “Brad’s Top Picks.”

Screenshot of Brad's Top Picks section on Katespade.com

There’s also a section dedicated to the “Pattern of the Month,” where key items of that chosen pattern are highlighted. What’s so great about this feature is the chosen pattern of the month is also reflected on the website’s wallpaper as well as the background design of the brand’s other online accounts including Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. So no matter what platform you are in, you clearly know you are in Kate Spade’s world and without question you know what patterns the brand is loving for that month. I absolutely appreciate this cohesive approach of the brand. While each account is unique and speaks to the Kate Spade audience in various ways, playing on each of the platforms’ strengths, there is  still a thread that binds them all together and let’s you know you are in Kate Spade’s world.

The increase in branded and unique content however is certainly not the only driving force that has helped increase e-commerce on the brand’s site. In L2’s third annual Digital IQ Index report on Fashion, the digital innovation think tank claims the brand has a “user-centric online shopping experience, receives check-marks for shareable plugins and earns the top score in customer service integration.” In addition, the website “sends an automatic trigger email to customers who abandon their cart, offering them free shipping as an incentive to complete the transaction.”

The brand has also experimented with different models of commerce including flash sales. In L2’s report, it points out that the brand leveraged its existing partnership with Neiman Marcus to experiment with F-commerce. “We want to find new ways to reach the consumer. Experimentation is important in general, but it’s particularly important in this space. Sites like Gilt are seen as arbiters of taste, and their customers are really, really engaged. We want to connect with them there. It’s all part of the multichannel approach,” said Leavitt (mashable.com).

When it comes to YouTube.com, Kate Spade is also seen as one of the leading brands who has embraced online videos. According to fashionretailers.com, Kate Spade’s You Tube channel has been a “coup de grace” for the brand specifically for their campaign #Livecolorfully. “These videos do an amazing job of building traits and attributes into their colors, which customers can personify in KSNY’s brightly colored styles” (fashionretailers.com). Kate Spade even “commissioned a different artist each month to create a video around a color for its #Livecolorfully campaign” (mashable.com). In keeping with the brand’s objective to engage with their consumers, online videos were created to do just that and extend engagement online. According to Liu “It wasn’t until Kate Spade’s ecommerce business started to take off that the opportunity to make campaign images ‘more alive, interesting and interactive … through video’ became clear” (mashable.com). With over 800 million unique views per month on youtube.com, the possibilities for engagement and growth are endless for Kate Spade.

It is no wonder that L2 ranked Kate Spade as the #2 brand in digital innovation and one out of only four brands that were ranked as Genius, whose “digital innovation is a point of differentiation.”

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Kate Spade Establishes a Voice and Audience Online

Kate Spade Ad

Photo Credit: From Flickr of Suzy LaCroix, Kate Spade Imagery

Kate Spade is everywhere! If you do a quick search on Mashable.com for Kate Spade, eight articles immediately pop-up where Kate Spade is a clear leader when it comes to digital evolution and use of new social media tools. In their third annual Luxury Digital IQ Index, L2, ranks Kate Spade in the number two spot right below Burberry,  “coming out of nowhere” according to the think tank. The brand was given a digital IQ of 143 or ranked as “Genius.” Brands in this rank (including other brands Burberry, Coach and Gucci) are brands where “digital innovation is a point of differentiation. Site experience is searchable, shareable, and mobile-optimized. Social media is embedded into marketing DNA, and campaigns are integrated across multiple digital platforms” (L2, Digital IQ Index: Fashion). Kate Spade has made various digital platforms a priority and it is adapting to new emerging ones seamlessly standing out from the rest of prestige brands out there.

Screenshot of @katespadeny

Twitter seems to be a platform where Kate Spade has succeeded and stood out, but not without trial and error, at first.  In Mashable.com’s article “How 5 Top Brands Crafted Their Social Media Voices,” John Januzzie, who used to manage the brand’s social media platforms, mentioned “at first, tweets from the @katespadeny account was written by visitors who came to the brand’s Fifth Avenue store and wrote short messages on a typewriter, or, as they affectionately called it, “the tweetwriter” ” (mashable.com). However this strategy was not consistent enough for a platform like Twitter that needs ongoing content to be effective and stand out. As such, Januzzi had thought of who the Kate Spade woman was and what she would do. This woman apparently was a New Yorker who  in cheerful, witty and conversational tweets “[checks] in to the MoMA in the afternoon and at Mercury Lounge in the evening; on the weekends, “she” snapped Instagram photos of Central Park and the facade of the Plaza Hotel” (mashable.com).

@katespadeny maintains a”personal voice without coming across as an actual individual” (contently.com). @katespadeny embodies the Kate Spade woman without having to reveal the individual handling the account, unlike OscarPRGirl and DKNYPRGirl. This is done through different ways including “[tweeting] frequently specific events, like dining at a particular restaurant or seeing a Broadway show, but a constant and professional identity is upheld. In keeping with its highly visual brand, Instagram photos often appear frequently, but the tweeters are never the subjects of those photos” (contently.com). What’s interesting about this strategy, is through tweets, her followers get to know the Kate Spade woman aned creates a desire to possibly aspire to be like “Kate Spade,” to be in her shoes and wear her clothes. As thesocial-lights.com puts it, “You know there is a real woman behind that twitter/facebook/blog account. She literally lets you into her wardrobe and life…Kate Spade knows how to create a brand and become more than a storefront.”

This approach seems to be one that brands would be extremely comfortable with implementing especially those not willing to let go of control. The key is having a clear picture of who that woman or man is  and what he or she embodies. In an interview with mashable.com, CEO of Kate Spade, Craig Leavitt mentions that the brand already had a persona behind Kate Spade. “We are really fortunate that we had already developed an authentic voice and persona for our brand. The Kate Spade girl aspires to lead an interesting life — to engage in the arts and literature and travel and adventure. We talk about those things on social media because that’s who she is, and she wants to hear about what her peers are doing. It feels very very natural for us.”

Screenshot of Kate Spade Tumblr page

Kate Spade has also been very successful at Tumblr, not to it is one of the first prestige fashion brands that took advantage of the platform and saw what a successful medium it could be. Kate Spade’s Digital Marketing Manager, Cecilia Liu was quoted in thesocial-lights.com as saying “People are using and sharing beautiful visuals on Tumblr, posting things they think are inspirational. In that vein, it seems like a really great platform for us to get our voice out there, not just as tweets and text, but through images and color, which is the DNA of the brand.”

According to mashable.com Kate Spade is using Tumblr to engage with their fans on a more visual level. But aside from just posting great visual imagery to match-up with the brands woman and identity, the brand takes the opportunity on Tumblr to interact with their followers by “frequently responding to and reblogging other users’ questions and content” (mashable.com).To continue interacting with consumers, it has also created the hashtags: #LiveColorfully and #thingswelove where anyone can submit things they love and things that embody living colorfully. The brand in turn, will share the posts with these hashtags on their Twitter and Tumblr pages. “[H]ashtag[s] like this is wicked PR as followers can use it for everyday situations, while the association with [Kate Spade New York] will always be there” (Fashion Retailers). Creating accounts on Twitter and Tumblr that are both from the brand and user-generated….genius! What’s more, through these hashtags, Kate Spade will have constant and ongoing content to fuel two platforms at once! Content creation seems to be a sticking point of some brands, and Kate Spade has found a way to use the brands’ fans content.

Ultimately Kate Spade looks to these platforms to not only grow their fan base but continue to engage with them: “I guess it’s really about the number of people we’re reaching in the end. We want to reach as many people as possible. We’re closing in on 400,000 Facebook fans and 150,000 Twitter followers — those are meaningful numbers for us as a brand, [and they determine] how we invest our time and our human resources across those different media. It’s also about enabling a real-time conversation, talking about where [the Kate Spade girl] is now and where she goes next.” (Mashable.com).

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