ShopUp Proves Social Media Value to Fashion Retail World

Over the last year I have sat across many-a-Starbucks table from social media and marketing consultants of all types. I have given advice on job hunting, standing out from the competition and more, and I’ve asked a lot of questions, such as, “What makes you an expert above and beyond the next guy/gal?” A lot of times, the answers were vague.

But one of those times, I sat with Rachel Levy (@bostonmarketer). Rachel has a very interesting story to tell – she recently became the Director of Marketing and Social Media for Second Time Around, a chain of contemporary, designer, consignment clothing & furniture stores. But prior to that, she spent a year off – networking, job hunting and ultimately, with the intelligent use of social media (as well as some tenacity), reinventing herself. (See her recent blog post about this.) In our conversation Rachel stood out – she’s smart, insightful and most of all, she was enthusiastic about finding the right position with the right company.

I’d say she’s found it.

Last night I attended #ShopUp, a shopping event that Rachel planned to help raise awareness of Boston’s Second Time Around (the company has 21 shops in cities around the U.S.). Now, I’m a rabid fashion fan and involved in the industry as a Board Advisor to New York City’s Style Coalition, but last night I wasn’t paying attention to the fashion. I was paying attention to the social marketing of this event – Rachel did an amazing job.

I sat down with Rachel today to ask her about the event. I was so impressed with it, I wanted to share it as a great case study in how social marketing can help any business – when done well. I’ve heard a lot of people claim social media expertise – but anyone can pull off tactics like running a Twitter account. Integrating them into an overall strategy is a different story.

PPR: What was your overall strategy for #ShopUp?

RL: Mainly, I wanted to spread the word about who we are and what we do – specifically, create regional awareness for the Boston store through word of mouth. A specific part of that goal was to get people to interact with the product. Having a party and getting them into the store was the best way to do that. Consignment shopping is a different experience than shopping for new retail – I wanted people to experience it first hand. Lastly, while this event was held in Boston, I also wanted to use it to create national awareness for our 20 other stores – creating curiosity for shoppers to find out about the store near them.

PPR: What was the event?

RL: ShopUp was an evening of shopping and schmoozing. We encouraged shoppers to come by for appetizers and drinks, a little shopping and, in honor of New York Fashion Week, a fashion show. Held at our store, we provided shoppers with 20% off during the event, and handed out 10% off coupons for future shopping. We also encouraged shoppers to bring in any designer clothes to consign that evening.

Christine Perkett (@missusP), Michael Durwin (mdurwin), Carissa O'Brien (@carissao)

Christine Perkett (@missusP), Michael Durwin (mdurwin), Carissa O'Brien (@carissao)

PPR: How did you use social media to promote and run ShopUp?

RL: Pre-event promotion included a community contest through Twitter, where our followers nominated the models for the fashion show part of the evening. We created the hashtag #ShopUp for easy tracking of the conversations taking place around nominations and the event itself. Once we had nominees, we had people vote for the four models who would be in the show. This process proved to be very viral – people were really interested because they had a part in creating the show. We also posted news about the event on Facebook. During the event, we had guests vote for the best outfit and model – again, via Twitter. The model who received the most votes for a specific outfit got to take the clothes home. To share the event with those outside of Boston, we streamed live video through UStream, Twittered during the event (using TweetDeck and CoTweet) and we’ll be featuring a compilation video of the entire evening on YouTube. Our photos are also up on Flickr, and many people sent TwitPics during the event as well. Lastly, today we issued a post-event survey through a BostonTweetUp twtpoll.

The runway (photo by Pamela Rosenthal)

The runway (photo by Pamela Rosenthal)

PPR: What was the ROI? Did you reach your goals?

RL: Oh yes! About 75 people attended the event and our sales were positively impacted. We experienced a positive return on our investment in regards to revenue vs expenses as well. Although I don’t yet have figures to share around the specific number of impressions driven by the event, I can say that we drove new business – 50 percent of the people who attended had never shopped here before… but either did last night or intend to return, I’m sure. (PPR: Rachel incorporated a smart strategy to ask attendees two questions at the registration table; 1) Have you shopped with us before and 2) Can we add you to our mailing list?)

Congratulations to Rachel and Second Time Around on a terrific event – and to the lucky model/winner (Manolo Blahnik shoes, Escada sweater, jeans & accessories!), Carissa O’Brien.


Persuasive Picks for the week of 02/16/09

Jeff Glasson is on vacation this week so I’m throwing up what caught my eye for this week’s Picks.

Debunking Six Social Media MythsB.L. Ochman of BusinessWeek claims that resistance to social media is futile, and that “If your business isn’t putting itself out there, it ought to be.” This post covers many myths that surround social media that everyone should be aware of “before taking the plunge.”

Cece Salomon-Lee, author of the PR Meets Marketing blog, took it upon herself to dissect the social media prowess of O’Dwyer’s list of top 100 independent PR firms (of which PerkettPR is not a part only because we do not share revenues). Her findings caused quite a stir – 59 comments and counting as of this post. Seems to me that agencies are using some old reasons such as “our clients don’t need social media” and “it’s the cobbler’s shoes syndrome,” as defense against not being involved in social media. As I mentioned in my own comment to the post, they’re missing opportunities in this vein for their own relationship building, whether or not they’re executing campaigns for clients.

On the other hand, Jennifer Leggio of ZDNet took on a bit more comprehensive research, which she unveiled in a survey report “Is ‘Social PR’ for Real; Which Agencies Get It?” – also focused on PR and social media. Her takeaways were invaluable for both agencies and clients – and she kindly reminded us all that client results matter first – whether in traditional PR, social media marketing or both. We’re proud to be included among the firms recognized for having both – and as one of only sixTop Considered”consistently named as a viable consideration for clients considering an agency switch. (To which we say, give us a call!)

Our client Lotame continued the social media and PR conversation on their Social Media Remix radio show yesterday – hosting yours truly and PerkettPR’s EVP Heather Mosley. You can listen here to the recording.

And one of my favorite social media campaigns of the week combined two of my personal passions: technology and fashion. It was Fashion Week in New York and I had the privilege of being involved this year as a Board Advisor to Style Coalition, a new organization focused on advancing professional standards in content creation and increasing the effectiveness of advertising messages within this realm. We held a Digital Moda event on Tuesday night to bring together designers, bloggers and new media marketers – an innovative alternative to the traditional runway shows typically seen at NYFW. So I was thrilled to see a well-recognized fashion brand, BabyPhat, also embracing new media that evening. They Twittered from their runway show, including timely posts of photos, commentary and video – giving consumer fans all over the Internet a feel for being right there in the middle of the action.