The rules of engagement

Posted by Jenna Gallagher on February 17, 2012 |

When asked what she thought about the way most people dress, Diana Vreeland once famously quipped, “Most people are not something one thinks about.”

It worked for her at the time. The legendary fashion editor archly dashing off mots justes with her trademark insouciance. Today, it would be a career killer.

For those who use social media professionally, one of the biggest allures is being able to find out what your customer thinks. The more you can get them to comment on your blog, like your posts, link to your group, retweet your ephemera and pin from your boards, the better.

And believe it or not, fashion is at the forefront of user engagement online. Forget the Mean Girls trope of fashion designers and editors cattily dismissing everyone’s opinion but a seemingly arbitrary group of style arbiters. Today’s fashion insider is just as hashtag conscious as she is label conscious.

Take Rebecca Minkoff. The designer founded her handbag collection in 2005 and by 2007 had tapped into the power of online branding. Since then, her name has become synonymous with engaging customers and potential customers online. For years now, she has been popping up in chat rooms, complimenting Polyvore boards, responding to Tweets and Facebook posts. She even formed a group of online brand ambassadors called the Minkettes, a term which has practically become an industry eponym for blogging brand fans.

Minkoff is definitely a thought-leader on how to grow your business online. But already well-established businesses can learn a thing or two from fashion as well. At last week’s third annual Fashion 2.0 Awards, which honors social media savvy fashion brands, retail institution Bergdorf Goodman took home the prize for best Facebook page, @DKNY for best Twitter feed, Marc Jacobs for best website, Tiffany and Co. Engagement Ring Finder for best mobile app and Kate Spade for Top Innovator.

In every case, the brands pull together the best of the new and the next platforms, apps and embedding capabilities to create an online experience to engage their customer. They style their site like they would style an outfit and make spending time in their online spaces as personal and service-driven as spending time in their dressing rooms.

The fashion industry is built on slick, expensive advertising and that will probably never change. But truly innovative companies have found a way to stretch their online currency by promoting brand loyalty and keeping people talking. You can’t buy that kind of publicity.

 

 

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