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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Kate Spade coined the term “tweetwriter” — a combination of “Twitter” and “typewriter” — as a tool in the company’s venture into social media. The Tweetwriter is an antique typewriter, which was set up in the brand’s Fifth Avenue store in May. The staff encourages customers to type messages they would like to see on the Kate Spade Twitter page, which has 641 followers. Eclectic entries such as, “from 135 5th ave: i could watch the clouds pass all day” fill the page, giving it a quirky feel. Lindsay Stevens, director of marketing and strategy, said the aim is to project “a collective point of view from our customers.”

Juicy Couture launched an interactive social media platform on its own site, called Club Couture. The technology allows consumers to put together looks from the collection and share the outfits with friends who can then rate the outfit and create their own.

This social interaction has resulted in a conversion rate 162 percent higher than any other part of the site — meaning a user who happens upon the Club Couture page on the company’s Web site is 1.62 times more likely to purchase an outfit on the site than if she had been browsing any other page on

It is essential for businesses to have a clear strategy and goals regarding social media, said analyst Diane Clarkson of Forrester Research, who wrote the report, “How Twitter Can Influence eBusiness.” Diving in without them is not a viable option.

Social media is “a little bit of a Pandora’s box,” Gucci’s Triefus said. “If you’re going to get involved, you have to have the resources to be able to do it correctly.”

If a brand isn’t vigilant, a constantly adapting, public organism like Twitter or Facebook might do more harm than good. For instance, a “Twitter storm” is a digital mob of sorts that forms around a topic or current event — which, when negative in nature, can harm a company’s image if there’s no counterpoint from the brand in question.

“We’ve seen Twitter storms with fast backlash when a company does something that [fans] don’t like,” Clarkson said. “I’d want someone accountable for the brand to be behind that.”

What appears certain, however, is social media platforms will keep evolving, proliferating and gaining influence.

“The fashion world is shifting, needs are changing and people’s shopping habits are changing….It’s clear that [consumers on social media] are part of the overall fashion conversation,” Roy said. “And I don’t think that is going to change.”


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