BoF Exclusive | Behind the Tweets: Learning from the Best of the Fashion Twitterati

The Fashion Twitterati | Source: DKNY and Oscar de la Renta

NEW YORK, United States — To tweet, or not to tweet. That has been the question on many fashion business minds over the past year. Not every brand needs a Twitter account, but if a brand does decide to stake out a presence on Twitter, they should do so with a clear plan in mind and a voice that is consistent with the brand, while also opening up a new point of view. Most of all, Twitter should be a tool for engagement with a brand’s fans and followers.

That is all easier said than done. Some brands on Twitter don’t follow anybody else and only broadcast information out, which is the schoolyard equivalent of talking all the time, while shutting your eyes and ears and not listening to anybody else. You don’t make many friends that way. Then there are the brands that set up a Twitter account, and then fail to keep it active, which is kind of like inviting a brand’s fans to a big event, and then not showing up to greet them. It 0nly serves to disappoint fans and followers. Still other brands require tweets to be ‘approved’ by legal and PR departments, which takes away from the spontaneous, real time nature of Twitter.

Thankfully, there are a few fashion businesses that are doing it right. They have found ways of communicating about their brand that have caught the attention of tens of thousands of followers, and more importantly, have made those followers feel like part of the brand’s online community.

BoF sought out three of the most prolific and successful fashion twitterers, and for the very first time, spoke to the people behind fashion’s greatest tweets to learn from their success.

DONNA KARAN and DKNY

@DKNY — A true innovator, the reigning queen of the fashion Twitterati, DKNY PR girl has built a huge following amongst fashion fans for her honest opinions and behind-the-scenes peeks into the PR department of one of New York’s most celebrated fashion brands.

Name: Undisclosed
Age: A gentleman should never ask a lady her age
Number of months with DKNY: Too many to count
Number of months tweeting: 21
Followers: 240,000+

How did you get selected to be the voice of DKNY on Twitter?

When we decided to start on Twitter we wanted it to be very transparent. This was not someone speaking as the “voice” of the brand. This was not someone speaking as Donna Karan. @dkny is very uniquely my view as a PR person at Donna Karan International. As part of our decision to pursue this, I showed my colleagues several examples of what I would tweet – ranging from highlighting some of our best new products to giving some insight into our lives here “behind the scenes” — and they liked it. They were a great initial focus group, but I feel so gratified that we have received so much support from our followers. It is great to be able to engage with people who love our brands.

What was your strategy for building up a loyal following?

I am a social person by nature. What I have tried to do is combine all that is Donna Karan and DKNY with some fun, quick commentary my followers can relate to. I don’t think setting out to secure a following works – it’s an organic evolution.

How would you describe your voice?

Unedited, honest, lightly (sometimes heavily) sarcastic, friendly and engaging.

What is the best success story you can share of a business benefit that has come as a result of your Twitter presence?

I am very fortunate to have amazing, interactive and loyal followers. So many of them do my job for me. I lovingly call them #DKNYPRGirl’sTeam (we’re making T-shirts). They will search out product links from donnakaran.com or dkny.com or press on the brands and tweet about them even before I do.

Who are your 5 favourite fellow Twitterers to follow?

There are too many to count. I actually follow more than 400 fellow Twitterers. If you visit my profile, you will see a lot of the people I follow love the same things I do… there are a lot of fashionistas out there.

What makes a ‘good’ Twitter account — what are your parameters for success?

I don’t think Twitter success is weighed only in number of followers. I think it can also be judged by how often you are recommended to be followed.

Why did DKNY decide that Twitter was a communication tool that made sense for the brand/business?

As a brand, you need to reach people where they are and interact with them in the ways they interact with each other. The fact that over 240,000 people follow me shows that our customers are indeed on Twitter themselves.

Was it difficult to get buy-in from senior management to go down this route?

No. From day one, our management was excited about it, as they recognized that Twitter was another way that we could engage with our customers. They also showed a lot of foresight, because they knew it would only work if I could be real, unedited and write what I know… and a lot of what I know is the world of Donna Karan.

Our management has been very forward thinking about the power of digital and social media overall. Besides being active on Twitter, we were one of the first brands to have iPhone apps (we have two actually, one devoted entirely to the DKNY Cozy and one for Donna Karan New York. We stream our fashion shows on Facebook, we’ve created a number of videos featuring stars such as Christina Ricci on our website. Just a month ago we launched donnakaran.com as ecommerce and relaunched dkny.com, to offer full brand experiences. On this joint site, content meets social media and commerce in unique ways. There is enormous excitement about it across our Company. That is why it is great to work here – the creativity, the innovation and the recognition that the success of our brands lies in the people that love them.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

BERGDORF GOODMAN

@Bergdorfs — A Twitter voice for one of the world’s most venerated department stores from one of its youngest staffers, Bergdorf Goodman’s Twitter feed has made the sometimes stuffy Fifth Avenue staple more open and welcoming, especially to a younger, more digitally connected consumer.

Name: Cannon, Social Media Manager
Age: 20s
Number of months with Bergdorf Goodman: 60 – or 5 years
Number of months tweeting: 11
Followers: 33,000+

How did you get selected to be the voice of Bergdorf Goodman on Twitter?

My job is to share the Bergdorf Buzz. It all started when I worked in our Special Events department and helped maintain our Facebook page. We understood the importance of social platforms and what was being said there; so, when the company decided to dedicate someone full time to those efforts, I became our Social Media Manager. I started tweeting in January – it really is the best part.

What was your strategy for building up a loyal following?

I’m their friend…I’m always there to listen and help – and to give an insider’s perspective (whether it’s interviewing Victoria Beckham, going behind the scenes with our Visual team, attending Fashion Week…or getting happily distracted by something new and fabulous in our Shoe Salon).

How would you describe your voice?

Enthusiastic. Sincere. Honest. Fun.

What is the best success story you can share of a business benefit that has come as a result of your Twitter presence?

Twitter has made us aware of an entirely different audience. They’re enthusiastic but honest… and they love to communicate with us. Impeccable customer service has always been our priority – and having the opportunity to listen to and assist clients from Twitter has proven incredibly useful in making that happen.

Twitter also has enabled me to bring the Bergdorf Goodman experience to life… in a very new way. There’s only one Bergdorf Goodman in the world, so I am their direct line of communication. Our Fifth Avenue New York address means that we always have so much going on, whether it’s designers visiting, new collections arriving or exciting new exclusive merchandise; and Twitter is an excellent way to instantly share all of this news from an insider’s perspective. Think of it this way: Even if you’ve never visited Bergdorf Goodman in person but follow Bergdorfs on Twitter, you’ll know that we had a Holiday Windows Challenge with Polyvore, carry four different styles of Texting Gloves and were very excited to introduce Roger Vivier’s Miss Viv handbag collection with Inès de la Fressange.

Who are your 5 favourite fellow Twitterers to follow?

It changes weekly – but those who currently make me click might include @stefanogabbana (& his uninhibited use of exclamation points), @Peter_Som, @evachen212, @ManRepeller and @askmrmickey.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

OSCAR DE LA RENTA

@Oscar PR Girl – The magic of Oscar de la Renta comes alive via the tweets from its Director of Communications, who not only provides insights into the workings of this brand, but even dresses up in Oscar’s clothes to preview them for her thousands of followers.

Name: Erika Bearman, Director of Communications
Age: 29
Number of months with Oscar de la Renta: 27
Number of months tweeting: 18
Followers: 27,000+

How did you become the voice of ODLR on Twitter?

The specific idea for OscarPRGirl came from Alex Bolen, our CEO. The premise was simple: I would write about my experience of working in PR for Oscar de la Renta, the aspects of our brand that I thought others might find interesting, and my fashion-centric life in New York City.

What was your strategy for building up a loyal following?

I got started on Twitter by thinking: how can I bring our followers inside of the work that we do, and make them a part it? How can I tell the story of Oscar de la Renta? Then I just started talking. I was, and am still, hoping to tell a group of people a little more about a designer and a brand that they might know, or perhaps already admire. I think it’s interesting to share the details that make me feel connected to my work, like hearing Oscar whistling from his studio, or the tracklist from a recent show. In the process, I have tried to be a compelling storyteller- someone you want to listen to.

How would you describe your voice?

A little bit bold, kind of glamorous, and ultimately lighthearted. Oscar always asks that all elements of our brand, from the clothes to our advertising, convey a sense of joy- I hope that our Twitter has a dose of that same spirit.

What is the best success story you can share of a business benefit that has come as a result of your Twitter presence?

Recently one of my followers was trying on our wedding gowns at Bergdorf Goodman, tweeting me pictures from the dressing room and asking my opinion. We both loved the same one: a guipure lace and ostrich feather embroidered gown. She purchased it. I thought it was interesting because it was an impact at the store level vs. e-commerce. Essentially, I was in the dressing room with her.

Who are your 5 favorite fellow Twitterers to follow?

@mashable and @techcrunch because a girl has to stay on top of these things, @johnjannuzzi because he is smart and angsty, @bergdorfs because I think she is great at it, and @therealdaphne because we both live in a world without flats.

Imran Amed is Founder and Editor of The Business of Fashion

Related Articles

Post a Comment

11 comments

  1. Great article. However, you need to have a print friendly functionality on your website.

    Pony Neo from Johannes U, Gauteng, South Africa
  2. While I do understand the somewhat aspirational appeal of the lifestyles these young ladies lead, I find it a bit troubling that theirs is the only voice coming from the labels they represent. As biased and dull as the anonymous voice of a tweeted ‘newsletter’ can be (think @LouisVuitton_HQ), the opposite may not work either, specially in the long term.

    Confiding an increasingly important business encounter to just one person, brings up the question of what could happen if the person ever left the company. Allowing them to build relationships that are remarkably personal, and not organizational may bond the followers to the specific experience and criteria of the person ‘holding the smartphone’.

    Going beyond the comparison with other tweeters, that would be just as personal and slanted as the aforementioned accounts, it would perhaps make more sense to outline other ways that companies have found to take part in the twitversation.

    Some have opted to separate the company from the personality. @stefanogabbana and @dolcegabbana are an example of how companies can give insight to the company both from a personal and an institutional point of view. The former being very engaging (and as @bergdorfs puts it, ‘uninhibited’) and the latter being a more automated format that is nonetheless smart enough to include RT and @replies in its timeline.

    Other companies do their tweeting by putting notoriously different voices under one account. @MarcJacobsInt or @DVF are examples of how anyone from an assistant, to the CEO, or even the designer can interact with stakeholders (consumers, fans and media alike).

    If Twitter is going to be a tool for companies to use in the long term, only time will tell which are the right formulas to keep up with the return of these new communication outposts. The way to measure that return will have to be looked at as well, because as @dkny mentions, you can’t rate tweeters just by the number of followers.

  3. Great article Imran. I love that some brands actually ‘get’ the positive elements to using this free interactive platform. I am really looking forward to seeing what other brands are going to bring to the fashion weeks around the world this season. No doubt Burberry will be one step ahead, but I would love to know why you didn’t include Burberry in this article? Thank you and keep up the wonderful work at BoF.
    Thanks,
    @shelbyshelly

  4. i KNOW that Twitter is an alternative for a fashion brand to communicate with its consumers, BUT i never KNEW the concept behind the tweets & how the IMPACTs for the Brand’s Image.

    And the best part of it, we can apply this information or concept to other platforms like blog/website/ company’s products.

    Thank you BOF!!
    @titoley

  5. I really enjoyed reading this, as I’m a member of the younger generation who tweets for her company and still can’t quite get a handle on it.

    I juggle tweeting for my day job at a business journal with tweeting for my own style blog, which needless to say have two very different voices.

    I can definitely see how some of these companies have made social media a full-time position.

  6. Your comments prefacing the interviews (about how companies shouldn’t be using Twitter) were spot on.

  7. These ladies really thought out their strategies. I agree that it is really important to decide what is the voice of a particular brand before you go on twitter. It needs to reflect the brand, needs to be honest and 100% transparent. They are the face of the brand, they live and breathe it and therefore we all follow them on twitter and look forward to their tweets!

  8. This form of communication with the customer is so valuable and it seems to be loads of fun for the three Twitterers interviewed here. While I usually resist such newfangled concepts, twittering and apps are an exciting way to reach out and touch your customers and get feedback right away. I love it!

  9. Beyond tweeting, your company should have a Twitter account to actively seek out negative press. Read http://bit.ly/h27ExK more here.

    Chris from Oxford, MA, United States
  10. Thoroughly enjoyed this article. I actually just started following @OscarPRGirl today bc I’ve seen her RT’d a few times and found her timeline interesting. The “voice” in which she tweets (honest, with insight into the brand as well as her life) made me want to learn more about the company. Brands that utilize Twitter in the right way (no spam tweets please,) cam absolutely benefit from it. It really is a smart marketing tool to have.