Social Media Rewrite the Rules for Brands

Gucci, Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karan, Target, Urban Outfitters, Louis Vuitton and Rachel Roy jump into social media sphere.

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Gucci first became involved with Facebook in November 2008 after noticing that about 50,000 fans had signed up for a Gucci page started by a person unaffiliated with the fashion label. So Gucci decided to launch a company page, raising the fan count to its current total of 402,502.

The weekly updated page contains original video uploaded to the site, photos from events and new product announcements.

The Gucci by Gucci label launched its Twitter page — — in March and has 2,840 followers.

The “currency of the Internet is such that if you’re not updating on a timely basis, individuals are disappointed,” said Robert Triefus, worldwide marketing and communications director for Gucci. “In fact, it can end up backfiring.”

Target has used its Facebook page — with 452,856 fans — for advertising its latest designer collaborations. The retailer most recently posted a video of Dror Benshetrit explaining his collection for Target. The chain also used the page to publicize its philanthropic efforts through a user-interactive application. The company launched the “Bullseye Gives” campaign that allowed its users to vote on the charity to which Target should give money. When a user chose a charity, she was offered the option of publishing her choice to her own news feed.

For instance, if Facebook user Jane Smith voted for Red Cross, it would appear on her home page and on all of her friends’ news feeds, with the message “Jane Smith voted for the Red Cross for the Target Bullseye Gives project,” with a link to the Target Facebook page. This component is illustrative of the allure of Web 2.0 — interacting with a customer who then spreads the company’s message.

Gap has a Facebook fan page with 321,875 fans, and is active on Twitter with 5,269 followers. The Gap Facebook page has videos of designer Patrick Robinson talking about the brand, as well as photos of events and original content.

Urban Outfitters posts promotions and events, and encourages its 101,453 Facebook fans and 27,948 Twitter followers to get involved with the brand. A recent Facebook post read: “It’s your favourite time of the year again — Sale Time. Our Boutique sale starts today online and in store! This means Luella, See by Chloé, Anglomania by Vivienne Westwood, Thomas Burberry, Karen Walker, Peter Jensen et al. are all waiting for you; but not for long!”

Within four days, 72 Facebook users had responded to that post, one of whom recommended a particular Urban Outfitters location, saying, “Best sale upstairs at santana row!”

When American Apparel and its ceo, Dov Charney, were embroiled in a lawsuit filed by Woody Allen over unauthorized use of his image, the company used its Twitter page, with 31,167 followers, and Facebook page, with 133,577 fans, for direct access to customers by posting its official statement on Facebook and linking to Twitter. “We were able to speak and reassure customers,” said Ryan Holiday, an American Apparel spokesman.

According to company estimates, 10 percent of all traffic to originates from four social media sites — Facebook, Twitter, Chictopia and LookBook.

Oscar de la Renta and Donna Karan have each dedicated a Twitter page to their “PR girls” — and OscarPRgirl, which promotes itself as “reporting from inside one of the world’s most prestigious design houses,” began tweeting on June 4 and has 162 followers. A recent tweet: “Hathaway is the new Hepburn: Anne H. looking impossibly chic @ the tony awards in Oscar de la Renta.”

The DKNY page, which launched on May 8 and has 981 followers, bills itself as providing “behind-the-scenes scoop from inside DKNY” written by a “PR girl.” The tweets are personality-laced messages that promote the Donna Karan label, such as “So great! Karen Olivo won the TONY (Award for “West Side Story”). She looked so chic in Donna. Huge pic in the @dailynews.”

Betsey Johnson began her Twitter page,, Jan. 23 and has 8,068 followers. The page is updated several times daily with promotional tweets such as “Don’t miss out on our Memorial Day sale! Tomorrow is your last day to save 30%!” mixed with attentive dialogue with her followers — for instance one follower said “doing some damage on the @xoBetseyJohnson Web site. retail therpy” and xoBetseyJohnson responded “Nice! Everyone needs retail therapy! Xox”).

“We saw [social media] as a real opportunity to reach out to customers, to use it as free advertising and be a human voice for the brand,” said Agatha Szczepaniak, public relations director.

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