There is no doubt that Indianapolis has a dynamic collective of creative fashion industry professionals… But are local professionals spending too much time in the workroom and not enough time being social? Perhaps. Either way, fashion industry professionals should not ignore the benefits of social media to their branding, marketing, and PR strategy. Oh, and don’t forget, it’s still free! In fact, my own personal social media effort was put to the test when Indianapolis celebrated Fashion’s Night Out on September 6. As the FNOindy Social Media Director, I certainly learned some lessons from the event (and celebrated its many successes).
I recently read an ExactTarget report (“Subscribers, Fans, and Followers”) which said that 80% of small businesses have an employee of 1. Many will agree that this is not a shocking statistic, and the number of hats worn in a single day by a small business owner is a little scary.
I still get surprised when I find local entrepreneurs who have this “If I build it they will come” concept. No! That couldn’t be more wrong. Sure, your friends and family will hopefully support you, but after a while that won’t be enough.
Lets face it, local media outlets are not pounding down the door to talk to fashion industry professionals about their new collections. That, however, doesn’t mean designers, stylists, writers, MUA, hair stylists, & photographers can’t take control of their own marketing, promotions, and PR efforts. You just might find that there are some real results that can come from successful social media campaigns – if they’re well done. In fact, traditional marketing outlets are looking at how real estate agencies are using LinkedIn for realtors to market their work to people.
My experience from FNOindy 2012 social media effort has emphasized 3 things that might be pretty useful for you.
ONE: YOU HAVE TO THINK OUTSIDE THE WORKROOM
It might not necessarily be a “workroom”, but think outside your normal work space. There is a sense of creative safety in our work space. I know photographers who can see a design and come up with an amazing story through images. There are local makeup artists who can do amazing things after seeing a single inspirational picture . There is a lot of creativity happening, but it all seems to stop before it reaches the area of social media.
When working on FNOindy content, it was important to be aware of who our audience was. The fashion industry is a visual environment. Posting dates and links on timelines is not enough. Think of creative ways to share your message beyond mere updates — just because people are you fans or followers does not mean that they are actively engaging with your site. Since you are competing for clicks, likes and retweets, local brands have to think outside the box to compete with national retailers.
TWO: YOU CAN’T BE A WALLFLOWER
Social media is a social platform. Sounds simple, right? Well then, why are you standing along the wall waiting for someone to ask you to dance? The biggest lesson I’ve learned from working on a couple social media campaigns on different levels is that people want to be reached out to. There are some easy ways to do this: follow hashtags, comment on message boards, and network. See what people are saying. Watch how people are interacting with your industry. For the love, if you don’t know how to use a hashtag, let’s talk. The FNOindy social media campaign followed: #FNOindy, #FNO, and #INDY. For example when following #INDY, I saw a tweet that was asking what to do for a date night on 9/6 in Indy. I tweeted to them that Indy was throwing the largest fashion party, so why not visit a downtown restaurant and then check out our events at the Artsgarden. (Of course it was under 140 characters). They thanked me for the recommendation and I ended up meeting them at the FNOindy Social Media Lounge that evening.
How to make it work for you? Spend some time checking out what is happening in your industry on social media. Simple. Don’t be afraid to comment or tweet them from your branded account and chat with them. It’s social media after all… so get social.
THREE: SCHEDULING IS YOUR BEST FRIEND
If you feel pretty comfortable with your social media skills, and consider yourself a little advanced. Schedule your tweets or posts. This was a life saver during the FNOindy 2012 social media campaign. There are some free services that allow you to schedule tweets and facebook posts. I recommend Tweetdeck or Buffer for a start. But, there are both benefits and warnings regarding scheduled tweets and posts.
The benefit is that you can start engagement at pre-determined times. For example, I know that people are more likely to get on their social media outlets prior to work (7-8:30AM), around lunch (11:30AM-2PM), and in the evening (7-9PM) so I would schedule tweets to go out around the times when people were most likely to see the post or tweet. I also had to make sure that if I was tweeting or posting around those times I also had access to respond. It was a great resource (and it made sure I didn’t forget to share any important information). During FNOindy events I stuck with general tweets to encourage people to share pictures of their evening using the official tag #FNOindy.
The caution of scheduling tweets is you never know if something is going to go wrong or off schedule. Also you don’t want to schedule the same tweet at the same time everyday. You can schedule the tweets and posts, but make sure people don’t know you do. It’s supposed to be a resource to your brand – not a thorn in it.
I could talk about social media all day, yea I am turning into quite the social media nerd. I own it because I know the impact and benefit it can have to brands and to an emerging industry in Indianapolis. Feel free to tweet me your questions @_Jeremiah_ on twitter.