For those of us in love with all things fashion, you can never have too many black dresses, shoes (of any color) and accessories, especially handbags and bangle bracelets (last one's my own obsession). While one can suffer from fashion overload - too many pants, not enough tops, etc. etc. - our obsession can be exhilarating. What can be overwhelming now-a-days, is keeping up with our clothes, fashion trends AND social media.
As a designer, you understand the value of promoting your line or business online, but with the various outlets to promote your brand you can spend your entire day perusing fashion blogs, Facebooking, updating your Twitter account, posting your fashion shows on YouTube and so on. It can be exhausting and extremely time-consuming.
Here are some tips to get you started or help you manage your online presence so you're not overwhelmed:
Make friends with technology
To start, if you don't have an online presence (where have you been?!) - it's time to get online! I'm still surprised by how many indie designers don't have an online presence. Online time should definitely be worked into your daily schedule, even if it's just 30 minutes a day, take quick breaks to build your online community by engaging on social networking sites and checking out a few daily reads. And, if you haven't already, subscribe to PR Couture through email or RSS.
You can spend the majority of your time trying to find the very best way to promote your business and come away feeling overwhelmed and confused by which route you should take. Research a few sites to see if they'll be relevant and beneficial to you and your company. Relevance is key. For instance, unless you're promoting your line to musicians, you don't need a profile on MusicForte, even though your guitarist friend invited you and the site works wonders for him/her. Find the sites that will benefit you, inspire you or encourage you in your fashion design work and career. Get familiar enough with the basics of the sites to see which medium will work best for you and then go from there.
For those of you already online, double-check the relevance and benefits of the social networking sites you're on. While some sites are fun, for productivity's sake, you want to make sure you're also making positive connections with your fans, consumers and the media.
Focus your efforts
With all of the social media outlets out there, it's easy to feel a bit pressured or obligated by it all. Once you've researched your options: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or a niche social networking portal like Seeking Designers, do not feel obligated to create a profile on every available medium. Unless your accounts are linked together, you're pretty social media savvy, you've hired a firm to manage your accounts or you have way too much time on your hands - three sites is probably the max that one is able to "comfortably" manage while tending to other duties. Any more than three sites and you're not likely to be getting much work done unless social networking, blogging and online community profilin' is your job. If you have multiple profiles, set a schedule to periodically visit and update them...as long as they are still relevant and beneficial to you.
Give it time
Give yourself at least a month of frequent activity to become familiar with the community you've joined. Don't be shy - reach out, communicate, engage with your audience and new friends. If you loathe getting on the site and engaging with the crowd - you're on the wrong platform, try again.
Ask for help
Having a relevant and beneficial online presence can serve your personal and professional brand well. It's important to remain active and committed, while being realistic in your pursuits. It's especially important to spend time authentically engaging with potential and current customers, reaching out to online fashion influencers and building relationships with potential partners and affiliations. Doing so will allow you to extend your brand, maintain a level of interaction with fans and in doing so, enhance your design aspirations and career. As business increases, enlisting an agency adept in social media will help to increase and manage your growing brand's presence online.
Photo Credit: University of Derby (Teaching & Learning)