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Social Media: In and Out of Fashion

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For an industry that makes its money on figuring out what’s next, fashion companies have notoriously and surprisingly lagged behind when it comes to social media. Whether it’s a luxury brand that’s worried about diluting its exclusive status or smaller shops that have had a hard time making a dent in the vast Web, other industries have surged ahead while fashion figured out what to make and how to make the most of the social media movement.

How times have changed. In hopes that a concentrated effort means a quicker catch-up, many retailers and brands are now eager to put social media front and foremost. Here are a few of the key trends heating up the space (after the jump). Finally, for a change, other industries might do well to follow fashion’s social media lead.

1. Tumblr.com is the new black.
Blogger? WordPress? So five years ago. Fashion brands have embraced Tumblr.com as their blogging platform of choice, with mega-labels like Kate Spade and Helmut Lang setting up a stake there. The reason? Tumblr has positioned itself as a hub for the high-design set first with bloggers, which it’s worked hard to entice, and now with brands and a built-in networking ability within the platform makes it easier to share content and push it to viral levels. The newly released microsite fashiontumblrblogstofollow.com shows how strong the site’s credibility has become (and is a great way to quickly beef up your follow list).

2. Brand ambassadors are bridging gaps.
Fashion brands that use their social channels to just push out promotions or product are missing the bigger picture. Thanks to in-house ambassadors that live and breathe their label’s fashionable aesthetic, brands like DKNY (326K followers) and Oscar de la Renta (55K) have taken the conversation beyond the latest collection to a whole other level of relevance via Twitter. These Twitter reps might muse on a new indie movie, or a favorite lipstick, or some other insidery tidbit from their daily lives and, in turn, lend their employer a more aspirational-yet-accessible cache. In many ways, their ability to be totally tuned-in to the space (and highly conversational within it) makes them more effective than other brands who occasionally tweet out a top designer missive but aren’t able to have him/her participate on social media’s high volume, minute-by-minute basis. What’s also key to success is the exact right tone and style, which those two marquee brands have appeared to stumble onto fairly effortlessly. In short: Not just anyone can pull off helming a branded Twitter handle: the right voice, balance and knowledge is essential.

3. It’s not about pushing the product.
In fact, forward-thinking fashion brands have almost run the other way when it comes to creating their primary social content. Case in point: Louis Vuitton’s Nowness and Anthropologie’s The Anthropologist are about developing cultural cred and furthering creativity, while Kate Spade’s newly revamped ecommerce site (above) places equal weight between the products for sale and the myriad of inspirations behind them. Smart brands realize that it’s not about selling a bag it’s about selling a carefully curated, in-the-know, aspirational lifestyle, of which digital can be a primary vehicle. Those brands who “get it” will be reaping the benefits; those who don’t well, they’re basically as out of touch as men who are still wearing jorts.

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