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#140conf Debates “How Twitter is Changing the Fashion Industry”
Donnerstag, Nov. 18, 2010, 11:45 / New York, United States
On Tuesday, April 20th, 2010, TribaSpace attended “How Twitter is Changing the Fashion Industry,” a panel discussion at the 140 Character Conference in New York City (#140conf to those tweeting about it). Moderated by Gritty Pretty PR’s Social Media Expert Deirdre Sullivan, the panel featured a number of notable and unbearably chic fashion insiders: Alexis Maybank, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Gilt Groupe; Bronwyn Barnes, Associate Entertainment Editor at InStyle.com; Kimberly Miller, VP of Consumer Marketing at People StyleWatch, and Meredith Fisher, Editorial Brand Director at Diane von Furstenberg Studio.
The brainchild of Jeff Pulver, The 140 Character Conference is meant to foster live discussions between Twitter users about how the social networking and micro-blogging site changes the way people interact. Each panel at #140conf closely mirrors the format of Twitter itself: each individual speaker is allotted an incredibly short amount of time to present (10 to 15 minutes per person), and panel discussions never run longer than 20 minutes.
Interaction between speakers and the audience is encouraged, if not demanded, and panelists and attendees alike show remarkable reverence for their peers. This level of live interactivity is certainly a by-product of the fact that Twitter hinges on the value of meaningful, thoughtful and carefully-measured interaction between its users–many of whom are artists, designers and media insiders. Twitter has converted global mentality into that of a small town–one in which no one’s business is off-limits.
So what impact has Twitter had on the Fashion Industry? A huge one, and for a number of different reasons, as Sullivan articulated beautifully through questions directed to her panel. How do brands create their online voice, she asked, without losing the mystique that typifies the fashion industry?
Meredith Fisher encourages brands to tweak their online voice to meet the needs of the consumer. At DVF, Diane Von Furstenberg herself was initially hesitant to tweet for her brand, but soon realized how much consumers enjoy hearing from their favourite designers and started tweeting regularly. Bronwyn Barnes added that InStyle regularly features tweets from guest editors and party attendees in order to keep the account fresh and engaging.
Had the panelists, Sullivan then asked, seen a monetary increase due to Twitter? Kimberly Miller responded that Twitter is in StyleWatch’s top ten website referrals, which brings revenue to the company since advertisers frequently sponsor StyleWatch’s Tweets. In fact, StyleWatch is about to test the waters with a “Deal a Day” feature for subscribers, which Miller hopes will further increase revenue. During Fashion Week, QVC sponsored InStyle’s Twitter skin and three tweets on their page, which, Barnes said, meant InStyle used their editorial voice to encourage a partnership with advertisers.
What about the possibility of tweets going viral? Alexis Maybank confirms that Gilt Groupe promotional tweets go viral–for example, a “free shipping day” offer that was made available to Gilt Groupe’s followers garnered four times as much traffic than is typical for the site, as the tweet alerted hundreds of thousands of users immediately. At Style Watch, polling tweets are the most viral, and at DVF, the most viral tweet to date was made by the designer herself just after she was pick-pocketed on the streets of Madrid!
Twitter Direct Messages are used as a means of customer service. At Gilt Groupe, DMs (primarily shipping issues and detailed product enquiries) are forwarded onto a customer service team, who respond promptly. At InStyle, questions are fielded via DM, an interaction Barnes values greatly. InStyle’s new accessibility on Twitter has helped the magazine become a “24/7″ brand, interacting with its audience daily, as opposed to monthly.
Finally, Sullivan inquired if Twitter was responsible for any “magical connections” between consumers and the panel members. The real-time personal connections between People StyleWatch editors and consumers Twitter allows for, Miller believes, is magic in and of itself. Maybank revealed that Gilt Groupe has featured brands who initially contacted them on Twitter, at least two of which are now sold on the site. Barnes derives the most pleasure from her newfound ability to gauge readers’ reactions to InStyle moment-to-moment. DVF now uses Twitter, Fisher said, in all of their stores, engaging consumers with products. In fact, through Twitter, consumers may inquire about an item’s availability and be directed to the specific store that carries it. Futhermore, DVF loves when followers post Twitpics of themselves wearing DVF!
All panelists agreed: Twitter is undeniably changing the way that brands and consumers interact. For the first time in the history of fashion, designers, editors, stylists and consumers are on a level playing field: Twitter has given everyone a voice, shifting power and making the fashion industry a more engaging, inviting, and personable place.
Caroline Nierman | TribaSpace
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