Have you noticed a bevy of fashion brands promoting their recent runway shows with the ability to screenshot and instantly share runway looks with your social network? This new functionality comes from BumeBox, a Palo Alto-based startup changing how today's social consumers experience fashion events and runway shows. Pretty much everyone - ie Donna Karan, Rebecca Minkoff, Proenza Schouler, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Oscar de la Renta - has chosen the platform this year to repurpose their show into a social offering, making it incredibly easy for at-home or on-the-go fashion lovers to tweet, share and pin their favorite Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week shows.
At Kenneth Cole, for example, the software both streams the show and allows viewers to snap a photo of the runway and instantly tweet it out with a custom message and the right hashtag. The experience is also up on a wall in their SoHo Store. An an incentive, your #KCRunway tweet could result in $500 and a personalized styling session as well as $1 from every tweet will be donated to the Foundation for Aids Research.
This this sort of integrated social experience of an offline event is wildly valuable for fashion brands, not the least of which is due to BumeBox's analytics program that measures the social share, or "social amplification," of each promotion, helping companies understand the social reach of their audience and runway as well as begin to quantify new value that can be assigned to overall show investment.
BumeBox has also worked with eBay and will be powering promotions again for next week's WWDMAGIC tradeshow. CEO Jon Fahrner was the third employye at Zappos and has spent more than a decade in the Consumer Internet. Here's he shares scoop on BumeBox and how social content is changing the industry.
Was it your intention to create BumeBox for the fashion industry?
The BumeBox founding team actually has a background in consumer internet and ecommerce. With our past companies, we were always trying to find ways to create really cool onsite environments while leveraging social media connectivity. That was kind of the genesis of BumeBox. We met with the executive team at Urban Outfitters at one point and talked a lot about their famously branded ambience within their physical stores. We said to ourselves, "That is so cool! We want to create that with social media." BumeBox as a platform was meant to facilitate passion in all areas, not just fashion. But clearly fashion is a natural fit.
What are fashion brands' pressing needs in the social space? How does Bumebox help solve those challenges?
It is very simple: content inspires. When people get inspired, they are at the height of stimulation and want to talk to others. BumeBox allows them to do that without leaving or breaking the experience. Lots of brands and marketers come up with incredible content. The pressing need is properly socializing it. We are students of user friction dating back to our ecommerce days. We know that just having social integration isn't good enough if there is lots of frcition within the experience. We have a very fluent social content platform, always trying to make the BumeBox experience better.
You pretty much got all the big names to sign up - how did you do it?
In early 2012 we had an opportunity with an iconic designer who was thinking ahead of the game. This lead to an opportunity to partner with B Productions, who are the most credible and innovative production company in the space. They are also digital innovators in their own right. Through these types of partnerships we are able to work with important brands.
Is an incentive or giveaway necessary to engage the social audience in content share?
Designers are very excited to use their runway shows as consumer-facing branding initiatives. The physical attendance is still very important on some levels. But if the designer gets enough people talking and they trend on Twitter, for example, their brand gets a level of proactive amplification that is hard to achieve without making major initiatives like runway shows public. BumeBox customers trended nationally or globally over 20 times last year. We have begun to understand how brands can proactively get people excited and draw out a big social reaction. This is very different than aggregating tweets from a big world event like the Olympics. As an example, one of our best customers, eBay, threw a social party on how to sell products via your mobile phone - and it trended nationally on Twitter. The endgame is that by giving access, 300 seat venues transform into virtual stadiums full of thousands of people around the globe.
Is Bumebox just for major players or is it affordable for smaller brands?
BumeBox generally works with F500 companies, but if the project is interesting enough we do make exceptions. We like companies doing new and interesting things. We have helped new or socially immature companies gain awareness through our platform.
We are certainly witnessing an even more thorough shift within the industry to truly involve all audiences in the runway experience. Is there any value left to keeping fashion week (or tradeshows) as truly industry-only events?
Featured image: BumeBox Experience: Tory Burch - Spring Fashion Show 2013