Social Media Week New York: Can the Next Rachel Zoe be Found Online?

Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Foursquare Oh My!

Our technology-infused culture has become over-saturated and overwhelming, don’t you think? It’s not easy sifting through the messages, texts, check ins, emails and tweets that bombard us every minute of every day.

A panel of in-the-know celebrities and industry insiders gathered at the Hearst Art & Culture Hub for Social Media Week in New York City yesterday to discuss the techniques to utilizing today’s social technology in the most productive and beneficial ways possible.

The panel was moderated by Laura Brown, Hearst’s Features/Special Projects Director, who explores the role and growing popularity of social styling and social media in today’s digital world. The panel consisted of celebrity Denise Richards, Entertainment Columnist and Blogger Rob Shuter, indie fashion blogger BryanBoy, Lancome CEO Kerry Diamond and Leandra Medine of Man Repeller.

Almost as soon as it began, the discussion turned to the social media queen herself, Kim Kardashian. Celebrities like Kardashian use social media tools to connect with the public, gain exposure and drive their personal business initiatives. When launching her new fragrance Kardashian used her twitter followers as a focus group when she posted the pictures of two possible bottle choices, asking her thousands of followers, “What do you think?”  Whether or not the one voted best is the one chosen, twitter was a crucial tool for Kardashian in maximizing her influence and allowing her to hear what her fans want first-hand.

Denise Richards noted that it’s important to “have a goal and stay true to yourself” when connecting. Although she maintains everything she types is legitimate and sincere, misleading tweets seeming more contrived than genuine are streaming from the twitter feeds of many celebrities. We recently covered the topic of endorsement deals and contracts regularly stipulating stars to use social networking sites for brand and product-related advertisement. Kim Kardashian denies ever being compensated, but how likely is it that her deal for Reebok Easy Tone sneakers had nothing to do with her tweeting pics of her wearing the shoes at the gym saying “I love my Reebok Easy Tones” and including a link to buy them?

You may not know this, but the FCC does require tweets that are being monetarily compensated to include “AD” at the end of the message to clarify intent, as to not mislead the public. We rarely see this appearing on celeb messages even though law requires it.

Independent fashion blogger BryanBoy had a more grassroots approach to broaden exposure and engage an audience. He says that being himself, documenting his day-to-day life and sharing his love for fashion and style is what first made him famous. However sharing his personal dreams and encouraging others to do the same is what has skyrocketed him into the limelight. So much so that Marc Jacobs designed a handbag after him in his 2008/2009 Fall Collection. His success-achieving advice is to put  forth your true self and it will attract desired results. A big topic of the day was the emergence and acceptance of original bloggers like BryanBoy and Tavi, who are essentially “playing fashion editor” through social sites, offering styling tips, fashion advice and even trend forecasting. Social media sites have served as an unmatched platform for amateurs to build a trusted brand for themselves in the industry.

In essence many of the panel members shared personal experiences that hit on many of the same points. Lancome CEO Kerry Diamond shared her work with Pee-Wee Herman and his new “comeback.” What we already know and love about Pee-Wee is his unpredictability and crazy energy right? They launched a Twitter campaign in New York where the 80’s star would hop around popular locales in Manhattan and tweet his whereabouts to fans on twitter, encouraging all to come see him. It was a hit. People showed up all over the city to see Pee-Wee, even the New York Times stopped by to see what it was all about. Introducing Pee-Wee to Twitter was a cautious, well-orchestrated event that engaged his fans and made his return fun and spontaneous. Knowing Pee-Wee Herman as a brand and using the internet to broadcast is what made the launch so successful.

Whether it be from a business or personal perspective, a strong content strategy or product development strategy are key building a real-time measurement of branding success through social media. Joining such networks requires transparency, accessibility, and a strong self-identity.

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