As the elevator rose at a snail's pace, I wondered what to expect from Toronto's first Social Media Week. It seemed like a timely event, and one that would attract a tech-savvy crowd to the Spoke Club for Having @Style, a panel discussion with some influential players from the fashion community. Luckily, I was on the list and proceeded downstairs to find a small room of bloggers, PR people and fashion fans alike. Before the talk began we were told two things: "This is a hot ticket this morning" and, "Start tweeting and live blogging."
Cherie Federau of Shrimpton Couture and Lisa Tant of FLARE were certainly my favourite of the bunch (which also included Susan Langdon of the Toronto Fashion Incubator and Dr. Alexandra Palmer of the ROM). Some of their tips for using social media included:
1. Never be afraid to contact someone or ask a question. If they're accessible online, go for it! Tweet, tweet.
2. Find your voice. Tant encourages aspiring writers/editors to start they're own blogs to showcase their work.
3. Show your personality. Federau says that being true to yourself if the best way to get responses online.
4. Blog consistently!
5. On Twitter, don't be too sarcastic, overly cute or elitist. Tant compares the best tweets to great magazine content, "though it's faster and has more personality."
6. Mind your manners. Return emails and acknowledge your sources.
7. Take people with you. On set of a photo shoot? At a movie premiere? Strolling through Paris? Take followers behind the scenes and show them what your world is all about.
Both Federau and Tant have used social media to drive online attention to their brands. Shrimpton Couture is an e-commerce site that has been described as the vintage-lover's version of Net à Porter. Federau manages her business online along with her blog and Twitter. From her home outside of the city, she works with clients including collectors in Hawaii and stylists like Rachel Zoe. In the past few months I've seen FLARE's online buzz increase. Their site has been redesigned and now includes a weekly blog from the EiC herself which reflects on some of her readers' most common questions. She mentioned the time she tweeted about a job opening (the one that had Toronto's young and fashionable set buzzing), was misinterpreted by followers (yes, Tavi was brought up) and the Lady Gaga cover that was exclusively leaked to Perez Hilton.
Throughout the discussion people were snapping pictures and tweeting on their phones. Without a smartphone and far from suburbia, I planned to head home and blog about my morning. Hours later, I'm about to hit 'Publish.' Clearly I'm much too slow for the Having @Style set.