by Courtney Eckerle
"We really take an editorial approach to our social media," said Jean Scheidnes, Social Media Managing Editor, Neiman Marcus, adding that everyone on her team has a journalism and fashion media background.
"We really want to establish Neiman Marcus as a credible authority in fashion and lifestyle … we really wanted our content to reflect that," she said.
Scheidnes oversees a small team of editors that create or curate all of the brand content on Neiman Marcus' social media sites and blog. This includes all three Neiman Marcus brands: Neiman Marcus, CUSP by Neiman Marcus, a contemporary spin-off, and Last Call by Neiman Marcus, which is the outlet.
The team's objective, she added, is just to "share the most visually compelling editorial content online that we can find."
Her team has organized their Pinterest boards around the concept of "The Art of … "
for example, "handbags" or "travel" might complete that sentence.
"Each of these boards is highly editorial, you'd be pretty hard-pressed to find a link to a product page on most of them," Scheidnes said.
The editorial approach to Pinterest is unique, and she believes it is what makes Neiman Marcus' boards so successful.
"We really are just curating editorial content to reinforce our lifestyle authority and … the impression that Neiman Marcus is a great source of imagery. As a result, we're one of the most pinned retailers on Pinterest," she said.
When designer Rebecca Minkoff designed an exclusive style that happened to fit the social team's themes of the season, Scheidnes knew it was a perfect opportunity to take advantage and develop a storyline.
To capitalize on this opportunity, Neiman Marcus set up an editorial campaign around the style that would engage the social media audience.
Before the Rebecca Minkoff "Elle" handbag could be purchased in stores, the team arranged for it to be available exclusively via the Neiman Marcus Pinterest page.
Step #1. Develop a storyline around partnerships
"We have been building our relationship with Rebecca Minkoff, who is one of our strong contemporary designers, and we anticipated that we were going to have this exclusive style," Scheidnes said.
This exclusive handbag Neiman Marcus was offered happened to encapsulate three of the top trends chosen by Scheidnes' team for the season — rocker chic, the color red and scaled down handbags.
"We knew that not only was the design highly aligned to our messaging this season, but Rebecca let Bryan Boy, who is a globally famous fashion blogger, name the bag after his grandmother. He named it Elle, so that made it even more editorially compelling," she said.
Adding to the editorial appeal, she said, was that Minkoff and Bryan Yambao, the blogger for Bryanboy.com, were scheduled to make appearances at Neiman Marcus stores.
Another aspect that made this a perfect story for social media was that "the two of them are also exceptionally strong in social media," she said.
"We just felt we had a confluence of partners, products and exclusivity that we could really create a buzz around," she said.
Step #2. Heighten product exclusivity
Scheidnes and her team decided to heighten the sense of exclusivity around the handbag by "making it available for a period of time exclusively via Pinterest. The idea was to experiment with … offering a specific reward to a specific channel instead of having homogenous content across all of our social channels," she said.
The Rebecca Minkoff handbag was exclusive to Pinterest
for a relatively short period of time, launching at the end of July and widening the distribution on August 12.
"That was always our intention, because the bag was going to be arriving in stores, and it would be silly to try to maintain an online exclusive when people could get it through other channels," she said.
"We feel that [Pinterest followers are] very qualified to purchase, that they're very motivated by the latest fashion.
I think what's unique about Pinterest is, a lot of people use it to keep track of things they want to purchase. So it satisfies both the desire to consume, and the desire to curate," she said.
Neiman Marcus has had initiatives on Facebook and other social media platforms before, but "now that we've built various audiences, we want to experiment with understanding the distinctions between those audiences."
"It's always, for us, about the process of experimenting and learning, and about generating buzz and engagement, which we've done," she said, adding, "I think Pinterest, because it's purely visual and it's so social, it is an ideal medium for a fashion marketer."
Pinterest's unique ability to develop a storyline is what drew her to host the exclusive product launch on it. On platforms like Facebook and Twitter, posts are mostly subject to constantly moving timelines and stories that only exist for a short period of time.
Pinterest, however, allowed Scheidnes and her team to tell a story on a platform where there is more consistency to foster a narrative — not just posting one-off sales pitches.
"We love Pinterest on a personal level, and we try to behave the way that any lover of Pinterest would. As with any social media, you have to, to some extent, check your salesmanship at the door," she said.
Step #3. Promote the exclusive sale with visual and written content
During the campaign, Neiman Marcus' board "The Art of Handbags" was dedicated to Minkoff, Scheidnes said. "We didn't pin any other handbag vendors for that period of time. We didn't want to dilute the message."
Her team had samples of the bag long before the campaign started, and had been photographing it at music festivals around the country to have a variety of images on hand.
"We've been aligning our contemporary business with the music world for a little while now — music and fashion are just such great bedfellows. The style itself is sort of music inspired, we interpret it as rocker chic," she said.
The bag was also featured in the Rebecca Minkoff campaign for the fall, so the team had those assets available as well as some written content.
"We did a Q-and-A with Rebecca, we just leveraged all the Rebecca Minkoff content that we could," she said.
All Rebecca Minkoff content, visual or written was posted on all of the social channels, but "they were all driving to Pinterest to access the exclusive," Scheidnes said.
To drive customers to the exclusive Pinterest campaign, content was created across all channels. The content around this campaign included:
- A slide show of photos of the handbag
- A Google Hangout with the designer and a prominent fashion blogger
- Video recording of the Google Hangout
- Q-and-A with the designer and a prominent fashion blogger
The Google Hangout featured Ken Downing, the Neiman Marcus Fashion Director, as well as Minkoff, Yambao, and Tina Craig of Bag Snob, another influential fashion blogger.
Promoting the Google Hangout was especially prevalent on all social media channels, and "we were soliciting user questions via Facebook and Twitter," she said.
Making Pinterest a part of the editorial calendar
On working Pinterest into the Neiman Marcus content calendar, Scheidnes said it is usually a fairly organic process.
"On a normal day, it's just a matter of scouring the Internet — our favorite fashion media, resources and identifying things that would be great on our boards. It's totally organic and reactive on a typical day … it's just a process of natural discovery," she said.
With a campaign such as this, however, she said, "of course, it's different. We'll have a better sense of our own content cross channel and what's going to be available to us to pin, and then we'll have plans around that."
Neiman Marcus always has a very detailed editorial calendar, and with a campaign such as this one where there is a lot at stake for partners, the details are especially crucial.
"We always plot that out carefully and make sure that we're going to have enough," she said.
"You have to have a strong stomach. You have to have the buy-in of a lot of different people who have a stake in making sure that the bag is sold. In this case, we had great partners and great internal support and we were able to say, 'OK, we're going to do this experiment and hold hands, come what may,'" Scheidnes said.
- 3,000 new followers in the two weeks of the campaign.
- Five of the top 10 most liked pins on the handbag board were the new Rebecca Minkoff bags.
- During the campaign period, overall pinning and repinning of content directly from Neiman's website also increased, growing by 20% and 35%, respectively.
The campaign was an overall success she said, and in the future, "I would definitely like to keep rewarding our Pinterest audiences with exclusives," she said.
- Neiman Marcus Pinterest page
- Rebecca Minkoff handbag exclusive pin
- Google Hangout post
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