Hi everyone! I'm live at the Independent Fashion Bloggers Conference, a two-day event chock full of insightful panels and breakout sessions focused on fashion, the business of blogging and social media. Stay tuned for live updates - first up, panel 1: The Future of Digital Fashion, brought to you by Shopstyle, featuring:
- Moderator: Lauren Drell, Mashable
- Christine Ng, Shopstyle
- Mary Alice Stephenson, Fashion & Beauty Expert
- Scott Lipps, One Management
- Andrea Lavinthal, People.com
- Andrea Derricks, L2 Think Tank
- Carla Dunham, Saks Fifth Avenue
- Karen Robinovitz, Digital Brand Architects
- YM Ousley, Signature9
We're starting quite late - IFB Founder Jennine Jacob is just beginning her opening remarks now, but it will be interesting to see how many key takeways we'll hear from such a large panel.
Kicking things off with sponsor love, including note of Nine West's Channel 9 Shoe Confessions Booth, a fun Instagram competition from Saks Fifth Avenue, and the #FashionWeekProblems blogger concierge program from K-mart Fashion.
9:55am: Wifi at 82 Mercer is painfully slow, perhaps live-blogging was ambitious?
9:57am: Panel 1 is kicking off, with quick intro from Christine Ng of Shopstyle...Panelists are intro-ing themselves, including YM Ousley of Signature 9, who apparently publishes a list of the top 99 fashion bloggers yearly. Expect a new edition tomorrow, for whatever that's worth.
Karen Robinovitz of DBA calls out client Brian Atwood, whose new site launched today. Check it out here: http://www.brianatwood.com - sexy!
"Social engagement is part of a complete path to purchase," says Carla Dunham of @Saks. It's not an immediate correlation.
"The definition of ROI is not what it used to be," - @KarenRobinovitz. "Are people talking about your brand. Is there a change in sentiment?"
Next question is focused on "viral" video content, which is, of course, a misnomer. You can't set out to create "viral" content, you can only set out to create great content, and then support it with smart earned, owned and paid distribution tactics.
Mary Alice Stephenson rocking a blogger topknot, she clearly got the memo.
Discussion of video platforms, including Viddy and SocialCam, though they're dismissed by the panel as infinitely less important than YouTube (obviously) and even Vimeo (seems questionable. Vimeo's audience is teeny-tiny...)
"The future of advertising is not about anything looking like advertising." Karen Robinovitz calls out content as the context for advertising going forward. "People want something fun or they want something meaningful."
Mobile is a huge priority at Time Inc, says @andilavs of People.com.Site uses responsive design to adapt to viewing device.
Karen Robinovitz calls out OnSwipe as a tool for bloggers to use to mobile-optimize their site, including advertising.
Mary Alice Stephenson reinforces shoppable video as what's now and what's next - TaxiTV will soon be shoppable.
Scott Lipps calls out Pose, and their marriage of commerce with RewardStyle's affiliate platform.
The conversation has shifted to gamification, which most panelists seem to think works best when done lightly in fashion.
Karen Robinovitz calls out the necessary shift in brand conversations re: what's editorial and what opportunities need to be paid.
Karen also poses an interesting question to Saks re: paid partnerships - is a blogger double-dipping if she also uses affiliate links? Carla Dunham says they have yet to encounter that issue.
YM Ousley suggests that bloggers track their own affiliate links and seeing what products convert best for you, then using that information to negotiate stronger partnerships- great advice!
11:34am: Next up is a Q&A Session: How to Get a Book Deal with Jenni Radosevich of I Spy DIY. Check that her book, I Spy DIY Style, here!
Jenni's talking about how she spun her job into InStyle into a recurring DIY column, which then led to her book deal.
What goes into a book proposal? Jenni suggests finding your niche - it's really difficult to pitch, for example, a book on "style" - so focus on your specific voice and a specific and coherent idea.
Put together the best representation of what you can do PRIOR to approaching book agents.
1:11pm: Coming up next after lunch: The Business of Blogging, brought to us by Stipple
- Moderator: Lindsay Calla of Saucy Glossie
- Rey Flemings, Stipple
- Lalena Luba, BCBGMAXAZRIA
- Carol Han, CA Creative
- Jessie Artigue, Style & Pepper
- Alicia Lund, Cheetah is the New Black
- Krystal Bick, This Time Tomorrow
- Erin Hiemstra, Apartment 34
Interesting to see that several of the girls on the Business of Blogging panel are repped by DBA - surely a testament to the great work they've done.
2:22pm: A little late to this panel, as I was getting a lovely makeup touch-up at the Bare Escentuals booth - they have a killer new pressed mineral foundation and a creamy concealer. My face feels so much lovelier post-touch up.
Conversation at the moment is focused greatly on the pros and cons of having an agent. Having negotiated with blogger agents, I do think that they definitely do a better job of brokering deals if only because they understand brand budgets and market value.
How do you know how to set your worth? Lindsay asks the panel. It's a learning experience, try to connect with other bloggers to better understand fees.
In terms of blog investment, the panel agrees that bloggers should figure out exactly what their goals are prior to making investments in contributors, design, etc. Do you want a book deal? Do you want to be a style expert?
- Monetizing your blog takes years.
- Don't be afraid to proactively pitch yourself/your blog to brands that are a good fit.
3:53pm: Okay, so live-blogging is much more challenging than anticipated, as the wifi here at 82 Mercer seems pretty overwhelmed. On the bright side, there's a bounty of outlets - go IFB! Up next is Panel 3: How to Make Friends and Win Readers. Moderated by Sade Strehlke, @Icon_Concierge, the panelists are:
- Nicole Warne of Gary Pepper
- Samantha Lim of Fashion Indie
- Sydney Liann of Daybook Blog
- Carolyn Hsu of The Daily Obsession, and also The Hsu Closet
- Kate Arends of Wit & Delight
- Elise Yetton of Pennyweight
This panel is focused on social media, and how to really build audience. First question: How do you build an engaged audience that wants to share your content online?
Kate of Wit & Delight says that it starts with an authentic voice, and then building real relationships.
Carolyn of The Daily Obsession says to ensure that things feel personal and relatable.
Samantha of Fashion Indie calls out CONSISTENCY as key.
Next question: What is your favorite social media platform and why?
The panel's consensus?
- Instagr.am, despite it's lack of synergies to the web. Use it to share the world through your perspective.
- Twitter is key for building relationships - use it to network.
- Facebook and Pinterest are likely to drive the most significant traffic.
In terms of traffic-building tips:
- Carolyn Hsu recommends stratetically tagging images with keywords as Google Images can be a strong driver.
- Samantha Lim also notes SEO-optimization - super important to note as natural search will almost ALWAYS be the #1 driver of traffic to you blog.
- Promotions and giveaways are called out by @GaryPepperGirl - though keep in mind that this may not be "high quality" traffic/audience
A great question from the audience about conflicts of interest - with more and more bloggers writing for multiple outlets and extending services to social media consulting, what are the rules? Key takeaways from Carolyn Hsu and others:
- Be transparent
- Don't always keep the best content to yourself; match it to the best site/audience