Friday, March 25, 2011

Keep Facebook Vitameatavegamin-Free

Cruising around Facebook these days, and talking to companies who have hired social media “consultants”, I’m reminded of Lucille Ball as the Vitameatavegamin Girl.

Are you tired, run-down, listless? Do you poop out at parties? Are you unpopular? The answer to all your problems is in this little bottle. Vitameatavegamin.”

Or perhaps the old medicine shows in the wild west. You know: a guy standing on a box in the center of town calling out: "Step right up. This magic elixir will make all your aches and pains go away."

Had a consumer in those days questioned that magic elixir peddler about actual medicine, he would have been out of business and people would have saved themselves from buying useless goods. The same holds true with today’s social media “experts”. A lot of companies out there don’t understand social media, so they’re hiring the modern equivalent of a Vitameatavegamin Girl, who offers to “run your Facebook for the low, low price of…”. Then takes to promoting your brand on their personal pages with, essentially: “Step right up. Become a fan of this fabulous brand. Clicking “like” will make all your aches and pains go away.”

Find excellent advice on how to choose a social media consultant in these articles by, and Social Media Today… and help keep Facebook Vitameatavegamin-free.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Blogging 101

Blog...B-L-O-G; this four letter word can instill so much dread in business owners navigating the ever-changing interactive world. But a blog need not be intimidating. So, inspired by several small luxury firms who recently told us they still don’t quite understand… here’s our back-to-basics how-to for those still wary of blogging.

First, decide how to host the blog. Using a web-based tool like Blogger or Wordpress is free and simple (and will at least get you started), while hosting the blog on your own website has significant Search Engine Optimization benefits (There’s a joke in the digital world that BLOG stands for... Better Listing On Google). Simple explanation: because you regularly update a blog, and since new content registers with search engines, a regularly hosted blog on your site will help with your SEO.

Second, choose your blogging platform. Wordpress is the darling for its flexibility (best to use if you’re hosting the blog on your site). But there are Blogger, Live Journal, Type Pad and a host of others. This part is really a matter of trying each and seeing which platform you prefer. We personally love using Blogger. While we’re losing out on the SEO benefits, it is very convenient for Miamore Communications because, first: Blogger is Google’s blogging platform and we utilize Google quite a bit. Also, posting is a breeze. After you select a blogging template and personalize it, it is very intuitive, with easy-to-find iconsicons, which allow you to enter links, videos, and pictures.

Third, understand why you are blogging and how a business can best utilize a blog. A perfect illustration: Luxury super store Neiman Marcus recently created its NMDaily Blog, which serves as an informational source to its dedicated customers. With interviews from top designers, pictures from various fashion events, make-up tutorials and Q&As, NMDaily creates a sense of community for Neiman's shoppers. Another benefit to this blog is that it grows the Neiman Marcus brand in the interactive community--readers of the site can "like," "tweet," email and share posts with their friends and family... making them not just shoppers, but individual brand ambassadors. You couldn't pay for this type of advertising! How does a smaller firm similarly utilize blogging? By simply putting an idea out on your blog, or maybe an image with a short and concise caption, you are inviting your consumers into the world of your brand, a world they can identify and feel at "home" with… one to which they develop loyalty. A blog allows not only great exposure for a brand; it also allows you immediate feedback.

Sound great? It is. But, the top thing to consider when starting a blog is the commitment it requires. Blogs are about writing—in order to be effective; research, editing, and writing must go in to each post to make it a quality read. With that said, it's difficult for many businesses to maintain regular postings. Keeping up an actual blog is a serious commitment: either the dedicated time from you or an employee, or financial resources to outsource the work.

If you are still a little uncertain, our best suggestion is to register on Blogger and/or Wordpress, set up a free account and poke around. Also, check out other successful blogs in your business category. Meanwhile, feel free to ask us any questions. We are here to help!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Blogger and Tumblr and Pinterest, OH MY!

Lions, and tigers and bears, oh my! In more recent and tech-savvy times, the fashion- and style-minded should really say, Blogger and Tumblr and Pinterest, oh my! All these blogging platforms are entering our lives at a staggering rate. From the pink-walled bedroom of a 12-year old budding fashionista to the busy showroom of a prominent design house, blogging has changed how we view, communicate and express our ideas.

So what to choose...Should we enter long and thoughtful posts on Blogger? Maybe start tumbling photos and quotes on Tumblr? How about pin things to a virtual pin board on Pinterest? There are so many options; it's hard not to get lost in the dynamic and altering digital world. Is it just me, or does it feel as if things change on a daily basis? There is always a new version of iTunes to download, a Blackberry software update to complete, or a new Macbook to buy...
So, how do we figure out the best tools to help market our business?

At Miamore, we're constantly researching in order to communicate to our clients which new (or old) social media strategy to implement. Maybe that means tumbling once a day, posting a diary entry, or pinningsomething to our virtual inspiration board. Or maybe we should stay focused on only one platform and master its ins and outs. Each company has different needs, but not participating is not an option. The upside for luxury, fashion and design firms: freedom of expression and the promotion of creative ideas are at the forefront of the digital movement. We LOVE it!

So for the sake of avoiding technology overload, let's first discuss Tumblr. What is it? Well, technically, it is platform for micro-blogging, a.k.a sharing post text, photos, quotes, links, music, videos. The New York Times has stated that Tumblr makes, "blogging blissfully easy" and Fast Company feels that, "it's blogging, the way blogging was meant to be." So what does this mean for you and your business? Well it can mean a few things...maybe it can be a way for you to connect with your clients--updating them on trends in your given industry, providing information about changes in your company, introducing new projects and collaborations, displaying new projects--the options are endless.

“A picture says a thousand words.” It’s a saying that we have heard all our lives, right? So why not apply this to your business? Our culture is so face-paced and glancing at a picture or a short quote is a lot easier than reading long, detailed posts…thus Tumblr’s visual appeal for businesses based in fashion and design. It allows you to illustrate your ideas, your lifestyles, your products and, most importantly, your brand, through a simple image. Jump on board because this is a movement… Not only do high-profile brands like Kate Spade and Oscar de la Renta have Tumblr sites, but their Twitter and Tumblr sites work simultaneously by continually updating each other. Yes, aother benefit of Tumblr is its ease of connecting with other social media tools like Facebook and Twitter.

An easy illustration of Tumblr’s appeal: Have you ever traveled on a business trip and saw something inspirational that you WISH you could instantly share with your customers? Maybe it's a pattern for a new dress you are inspired to create; maybe it is a city skyline reminding you of NY Fashion Week; or maybe it is just a pretty little doo-dah image that reminds you of (and leads you to thank) your clients. Despite what you post, when you post it or why you do post, all posts will be shared with the entire Tumbling network and the interactive community--that's a lot of eyes on you. There are over
14,891,884 Tumblr accounts! (If you can’t tell, we’re big fans. Personally, the Miamore Communications Tumblr is my new obsession!)

So let's continue to navigate through this little (okay, it's pretty big, but not necessarily intimidating) social media/BLOG movement together... Stay tuned. Our next stop: Blogger. Until then, please feel free to comment and ask questions about Tumblr (or any other blogging tools)… we’d love to help!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The ongoing quest to define "Green" in the fashion world

Everyone from luxury firms to discount stores to auto manufacturers are “Going Green”. While the true Green movement has long advocated incorporating sustainable practices in order to lessen our environmental impact, the buzz around eco-conscious businesses (and lifestyles) has created an enormous gray area. Sure it’s great to hear promises of a brighter, more eco-conscious tomorrow but are these companies actually following through on their word? To answer this question we would have to define what it actually means to be Green. In the automobile industry it comes in the form of alternative fuel sources and hybrid cars. In the culinary world, Green means buying local and using organic ingredients. In real estate, Green comes in the form of solar panels and draft proof windows. While Green standards are being put in place in various industries, we eco-friendly fashionistas are curious as to what qualifies fashion as “Green”.

Since Miamore Communications represents Avni, a rising star among eco-friendly fashion designers, we were especially aware during this season’s fashion and market weeks of how many designers and manufacturers were suddenly touting their Green practices. Some were legitimately eco-friendly, some were questionable, and some were just painfully misleading. We had several conversations with industry insiders this past month debating: ‘How many precautions are enough to be considered Green?’ and ‘Do some of these Green practices outweigh other practices?’ Sure a designer could make their entire line out of organic cotton but what if that cotton is dyed with toxic chemicals? A designer could buy locally and support their local economy but then package their clothing in wasteful materials and physically damage that very community they supported economically. Our conclusion: with all this “Green” confusion, consumers and buyers the fashion world need a standard. So, we were thrilled this week to read in the New York Times, WWD and other media that the fashion industry is taking a step toward such a standard… or at the very least, adding some transparency and clarity about “Green” claims… with the formation of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition was started by eco-conscious leaders from global apparel and footwear companies, along with environmental and social organizations. The long list of impressive founding members includes a range of companies and organizations, from Gap and Nordstrom and Duke University to H&M and Walmart. The coalition was founded on the belief that sustainable, eco-friendly apparel has a positive impact on people and communities. But it is faced with quite a large task in developing a way to measure and evaluate the sustainability of apparel. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s desired outcome of putting into place a standard sustainable apparel index requires measuring improvements in water use and quality, energy and Greenhouse gas emission, minimizing waste, chemicals and toxicity and creating positive labor environments and social effects.

Although the organization has been operating for less than a year, there is already great buzz in the apparel industry on how they will transform the “Green” fashion world. The index will give designers the knowledge and tools that they need to create Green products (and buyers the understanding of just how “Green” a design firm truly is). With this focus on what needs to be done for a designer to be considered sustainable, we hope that more time can also be spent on developing technology and research that can contribute to the “Green” apparel movement.

Going “Green” may be trendy at the moment but, in reality, it is a necessity and is becoming a way of life. We look forward to what organizations like the Sustainable Apparel Coalition have in store for not only the environment but for the future of the fashion.