Friday, July 12, 2013

Leesa Butler Speaks With Fashion Arts Students At Humber On Social Media Marketing

By: Tamara Arnew

The energy and inspiration on Wednesday that filled the Governors Boardroom at the North Campus of Humber College came from a connection between marketing professional Leesa Butler and students of the Fashion Arts program. Leesa is the the Regional Director of Fashion Group International’s Toronto chapter, President of Divine Lab Inc. and creator of the F-List: the Canadian fashion focused blog that has brought the business of the industry in Toronto to the forefront through social media.  She spoke at Humber to Anna Zamparo’s Social Media and Fashion Promotion class on connections through personal brand identity online and the creativity behind that message.  “Your execution might change but the basics of how you connect,” she says, “is where your success lies.”

The focus is continually shifting in the industry to the development of integrated marketing campaigns, experiences and the blogger perspective. The importance to students of fashion is about keeping yourself aspirational and having the conceptual ability to create your own profession, to see yourself as a brand. Within five to ten years you could conceivably be doing something that does not exist now. The environmental change in the industry is something that is happening rapidly, you need to "have a sense of what you're getting out there." Leesa speaks to her own career background as beginning with a focus on the fundamentals of marketing, being true to yourself, what you love and who you have wanted to be.  From there, as you go forward, everything becomes a part of that process – it allows you to build something. During her presentation she asked students to write down five descriptions that they felt represented who they were. It’s a lot to ask in a question. This, she explains, is the direction to work in while defining what kind of brand you are and, further then that, what your purpose is. What do you want to be known for?

Leesa discussed the development of social media platforms such as YouTube and micro-sharing sites Vine and Instagram allowing those pursuing fashion to use the aspects of these mediums that are superbly visual. When a brand is given the opportunity to reach followers through video it is a matter of how well they know their own message and where the connection is with what you can do in six seconds- it's about creativity. With the movement being towards a huge number of brands blogging and individual posters alike, this idea carries over to everything that you do online. What you call yourself, has to resonate. Who your niche is, you have to be able to earmark through social media. The narrower your message the more connected you are to this incredible audience and they become a part of it.

"So-lo-mo" is the abbreviation Leesa approached students with. It's what "drives where things are happening". The social, local, and mobile aspects of social media allow yourself, as a brand, to have geographic fan recognition and a more in-depth awareness of competitors. They give us an understanding of who is influential (as social media really does democratize what happens online) and allow us to reach anyone as long as there is an authentic fit. They might be people who you would not have otherwise had a reason to meet. "You cannot be everywhere in social media, it's exhaustive," she says. Being realistic and deciding what is easiest to execute and where you can represent yourself to the right audience to grab the right response is key to connecting, to having refined virality.  

"To be influential, you need to go after the influential people. Follow them." The influential herself, she emphasizes that you need to have a really clear idea of what you want. To be that person you have to have a sense of authenticity and self, consistency through an understanding of who you are, to take from that to create and develop reciprocity. When using the online medium "give and support and the good vibes give back." Social media is about the connection, the conversation. 


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