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Fashion's Collective Can Help Your Company Thrive Online

Montag, Dez. 20, 2010, 10:44

As the arms of the internet continue to stretch wider and wider around our world, a medium that can enrich and help companies interact and communicate, often feels like it has an increasingly suffocating grasp. Or even worse, that it is causing companies to loose grasp of their desired brand message. For businesses trying to get acquainted with and adjust to Foursquare, Tumblr, Twitter even Facebook or TribaSpace, whether an established brand looking to create an online presence or a new company trying to spread the word, the constant growth and need for maintenance can feel too all-encompassing. But among all the sites and platforms continuously adding to the flux of new opportunities and in turn, confusion, there are some that act as lighthouses, there to help you navigate through the sea of it all.

While TribaSpace offers your brand a hub where it is possible to conduct business in one secure online space while making your voice heard, our friends over at Fashion's Collective are there to help you find that voice. The American company leads by example and has secured a place for themselves as experts within the online fashion community. They are a resource focusing on the unique opportunities and challenges faced by the fashion and luxury industries online, with articles that educate, advise, inform and spark dialogue about such.

Any company, fashion, luxury or not, looking to harbor an online presence can learn from them. We certainly did when we attended their founder Elizabeth Schofield's lecture at the Sportswear International E-Fashion Summit in Frankfurt, Germany earlier this month. Although our worlds often collide online, even for techies like us, it was a pleasure to hear her speak in the real world. But we wanted more, so we caught up with Schofield back on the web and picked her brain about starting a conversation online, the "luxury mentality" and why all companies, gasp, may not need a Facebook page.

TribaSpace: How did the E-Fashion Summit turn out? What was the audience most interested in learning?
Elizabeth Schofield:The E-Summit was a really interesting event because there was an international audience made up of different sides of the business, from e-commerce to marketing and technology. Social media is the topic we see people asking the most questions about, because there is so much talk of it, both in our industry and in our personal lives. People are interested to understand how they can use social media to enhance their brands and drive business, but they are most familiar with how they use it on a personal level. A lot of the questions came from the gap in understanding social media for personal, versus social media for business.

How did the international communities differ with their take on social media?
I think the biggest difference is that international audiences use the internet slightly differently. I would imagine this will change in the future, but right now, Americans spend more time online compared to Europeans and we engage more in social media. Also, the US represents a more unified opportunity for marketers, in terms of culture, language, etc. Europe, although larger, is a bit more fragmented. This is more difficult for marketers because the internet is global, but we need to take cultural differences into account. We can’t simply translate our websites to different languages, instead we have to think about how different audiences want to use our websites, and create experiences that cater to that.

Where is your experience from? How did Fashion's Collective come to be?
Working as a partner at an interactive agency, I focused on fashion and luxury brands, because that’s what I was personally interested in. We had clients in all industries, from fashion to finance to consumer packaged goods. With clients such as MaxMara, Christian Dior, Movado, and Lexus I started to see the challenges that luxury and fashion brands face online, and how different they are compared to other industries. I started Fashion’s Collective as a project of passion, and it grew rather quickly. Now we have a team of contributors who are all experts in both the luxury world and the digital landscape.

How do luxury brands have to act differently in the online world compared to other level brands?
It all goes back to what I call the "luxury mentality"––the thinking and psychology of desiring and purchasing a luxury good is completely different from a non-luxury item. There is a sense of utility in everything we buy, however, if utility is the only thing considered, luxury would never come to exist. If a shirt is simply something to cover our backs then why ever spend $250 on one? Luxury, however plays to a superior sense of quality, design, status, etc. As such, when a customer is considering a luxury purchase, their expectations are higher, they demand more. The same goes for online.

What are the challenges for fashion companies when trying to go social?
The biggest challenge is the feeling of losing control when brands have always had total control of their messages. You can’t communicate with your audience on social media the same way you do in a print ad. The point of social media is to connect, it’s a two-way dialogue. Brands seem to have difficulty participating in a conversation because they are so used to simply stating their message in a one-way communication. It’s now become transparent and more about the back and forth.

What do you suggest for B2B companies (such as TribaSpace)
communicating online, is it the same for B2C?

While there are some universal guidelines to follow that would apply to B2B and B2C (like maintaining a consistent dialogue or having a defined point of view), there are certainly differences also. For B2B, it can be about positioning yourself as an expert and finding creative ways to express this online. For example, align with other experts, participate in relevant conversations on social media platforms or be the conversation leader. There are different ways to go about it based on resources, but we all have to remember that at the end of the day, it’s about knowing who you are as a company and who your audience is, and then finding ways to benefit both through content.

What do you do for brands hesitant about the importance of new media?
The first part is education. Brands need to be fully aware of the opportunity online presents. For example, I don’t think that having a Facebook page is necessary for every business right now, but in making the decision to participate (or not), brands need to be informed of the benefits and the risks. One benefit may be creating a foundation of users that continues to grow over time, while a risk may be that you don’t have the man-power to keep it updated daily. All of these factors need to be weighed, but it all starts with information.

How do you get a conversation started online?
It all starts with knowing who your customer is and knowing where they spend time online. From there, there are of course methods to engage like paid AdWords or banner advertisements, but there is also blogger outreach or creating official presences on Facebook, Twitter or other platforms. If you haven’t started the conversation yet, be an observer, see what others are saying about you and have a strategy for participating in that dialogue, don’t just jump right in without thinking it through.

Which brands are leading the way in the digital age?
While there are many brands doing interesting things online, Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Hermès, Gucci, Jimmy Choo I don’t know that any of these initiatives has been absolutely perfect, and there is always room for improvement. Sometimes, it’s the biggest names leading the pack, but other times we see some of the smaller brands doing some really interesting things, like Boticca or Need Supply, for example.

Megan Cahn | TribaSpace

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Produkt-Gruppen: PR, Media
Märkte: Other

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