So how does one of the world's leading fashion brands, and one of the oldest, get ready for London Fashion Week? Maybe rehearsing the models, going to final fittings, checking the seating plan, and of course making sure the press and photographers are in place. Those are the typical to-do's. But in this era of social media and direct Internet communication to consumers, the Burberry brand added another item to their Fashion Week check list. Christopher Bailey, Burberry Chief Creative Officer has taken over the brand's Twitter account.
When I originally heard about this, I was skeptical. Many fashion houses are just taking to the social media airwaves, and some designers don't like being the voice behind their Twitter account. Some designers delegate the Twitter account to a PR agency to manage, and communicate with followers. One designer told me, anonymously, of course, that she really doesn't like using Twitter to communicate with her customers. When I asked why she said, "Because I can't say what I want to say in the format."
Yes, that would be the 140 character limit. It's true that you can't always talk in complete sentences on Twitter. Mastering the art of Twitter is almost like learning to speak a foreign language. You must be succinct and crisp in your prose and use the proper hashtags in your messages. (Hashtags are a way for Twitter uses to tag their messages by names for easy search and retrieval.) Use of the Queen's English is not a pre-requisite.
So why would a busy creative officer like Mr. Bailey want to take this on right before a major event like London Fashion Week I asked? The answer, because he likes to communicate directly with consumers. Here's what he had to say, in more than 140 characters. "We are now as much a media-content company as we are a design company because it's all part of the overall experience," says Christopher Bailey. Via Twitter, Mr. Bailey answered me, as to why he is Tweeting this week, " Enjoying interaction and great to share everything that goes on pre- show / pre live stream etc.," signed CB.
Clearly, Christopher Baily gets it. In the Internet age, to be truly successful, a brand needs to communicate with customers via traditional print channels, as well as social channels. I love that I can hear from Christopher Bailey directly via a free tool like Twitter in real-time. I don't have to wait for a glossy fashion magazine to arrive at the end of the month. The print magazine's coverage, as much as I love and enjoy them, will be delivered long after the runway lights dim. It will be more of a recap, with gorgeous photos. In contrast, the photos delivered via Twitter may not be perfectly in focus, but they will be delivered in real-time as the models are walking the runway. Most exciting, everyone can share the show via the Internet. No invite necessary. The doors are open, and all the "Tweeple" are invited. The Burberry Womenswear show will be streaming live on the Internet on Tuesday from the Burberry site.
Mr. Bailey uses social media other than Twitter to communicate with those who wear the Burberry clothes. He has a large Facebook following, and he speaks directly to them every week, via the Burberry Facebook group. What is interesting about the Facebook group is the way in which he engages with consumers. He is not just sharing fashion news, he is sharing his favorite pieces of music as well. Via Facebook, "Burberry Acoustic" music is shared. And apparently, Mr. Bailey is very involved in selecting the music for the Burberry runways show. As he Tweeted via his iPhone, "Just finalised music for the show and so excited..,! CB." Each Tweet from the Burberry Twitter account is signed with his initials. By sharing his musical tastes, and some free clips, Mr. Bailey is getting close to his customers by letting them enjoy the same things he enjoys. That creates a feeling of camaraderie, that helps customers feel close to him, and the Burberry brand. It's rather a brilliant marketing strategy. I enjoy listening to the music posted on Burberry Facebook, and it doesn't cost me a penny.
Stay tuned for more social media marketing from the Burberry brand. In a few weeks, they are launching a "retail theatre concept." According to Christopher Bailey:
This concept allows us to broadcast our multi- faceted content all over the world, directly to our stores, creating a modern and pure brand environment. Customers at the exclusive in-store digital events will experience the clothes, the music, the energy and the atmosphere in real time and have the unique opportunity to receive their orders in just 7 weeks.
Love the concept, but 7 weeks is still a long time in the Internet age. Clearly, the worlds of fashion production and Internet response time are still merging. Meanwhile, Mr. Bailey will be on Twitter at least until Tuesday taking us all "behind the seams" at London Fashion Week, Twitter hashtag #LFW.