Screen shot of Kate Spade New York's YouTube videos

The day after we ran part one of our interview with Kate Spade’s Johanna Murphy and Marissa Kraxberger, the famously-hip brand was named Top Innovator at the Fashion 2.0 Awards.  After reading part two of our interview, below, you’ll see why Kate Spade deserved it!

I love the way your posts are thematically divided into “columns” (in the editorial sense of the word). How do you decide which columns to run, and how often do they change?

Marissa: That was a really long process, actually. Our lead copywriter worked with us on this, and we just really broke down what we do, what our everyday kind of workdays are like. What we believe in, what we follow for inspiration, what makes the most sense, where we think our conversations will fit in best. That’s kind of how we came up with these columns. When we re-launched our blog this past summer, it was really about making a magazine, for lack of a better word. What we’re going to be discussing, and how will we organize them. They were already a part of our conversations here, it was just about making a more legitimate space within there.

Your brand is a Pinterest early adopter, with more than 11,000 followers and eight boards. There’s a huge amount of interest right now from brands of every stripe, so why don’t you tell us a bit about the experience you’ve had so far?

Johanna: Yeah, so obviously, like everyone, we’ve been talking about Pinterest for a while. We wanted to make sure that when we launched Pinterest, we did it in a way that was appropriate for that platform as well. Again, going back to these are all different. And although it’s all social media, they all have a different following of people that engage differently, and it was really important for us to go into it with an authentic approach and not a promotional approach. It’s funny, because when we did finally launch, and when we posted it to our Facebook page, there was a lot of love. And then there were some people who were like, “oh no, brands are infiltrating the Pinterest space.” I kind of started digging a little deeper there. And what made me really happy was that the negativity toward brands on the Pinterest space was not applicable to us at all, because we were doing, and are doing, what Pinterest is made for. And that’s for sharing inspiration and not making it just about your brand, and not promoting product, and not promoting brand initiatives. It’s really about further expanding that Kate Spade point of view. That’s why, when we were planning the Pinterest launch, we were like, what are these buckets that really define the brand? And that’s how we came up with “think colorfully,” “dress colorfully,” “travel colorfully,”etc. For the holidays, we came out with a set of books called A Guide to Living Colorfully, and that very much tells you about the Kate Spade lifestyle, too. So let’s take that a step further and make that our filter for how we pin stuff on Pinterest. There’s been a full strategy behind it, from the moment we started talking about it. And then when we launched, we’re like, let’s also do that in a Kate Spade fashion, let’s have a party. Let’s get some beer and some pretzels, and let’s as a team, sit and pin together and talk about why we love Pinterest, we’re already on there. That’s the thing, all of our team was already on Pinterest, sharing imagery, and talking about why we loved it so much. It’s such an easy transition for us to make a Kate Spade account. And as a team, we have a couple people help to do all the pinning and you know it’s just became easy that we had these great filters to pin through.

Pinterest is evolving day to day. I still don’t think they were prepared for the insane following they’re getting now. I think that’s also why brands have been a little slow to jump on there. There’s not a way to track on Pinterest yet, I’m sure that’s coming. But as far as referral traffic, though, from what we can see, I haven’t seen a lot. It’s from mostly Facebook. But the point of Pinterest is not that, though that’s a great outcome if they are shopping from that, it’s about our voice and another way to communicate our voice and create lovers of the brand.

Speaking of Facebook, you guys have a very active Facebook fan base. Can you tell us how you encourage them to engage in a dialogue with Kate Spade and what you’ve learned from doing so?

Johanna: In the last couple of months, we’ve gone through a re-launch of Facebook because it was getting a little unruly. We wanted to get the wall closer to its real purpose. We still wanted customers and fans to be able to comment on our wall, give us feedback. So that’s when we opened ratings and reviews, and we have the “tell us what you think” section to allow people to give us our feedback there. And now we’re using the wall in a real content driven way, and it’s a nice mix between content and commerce. It just flows nicely with content from our other social media channels. Once in a while, we will announce a sale there and promote a product or use it that way. We just launched our spring campaign yesterday, and if you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend you take a look at it. It’s full of content for our spring launch. We’re taking a strategic partnership with the estate of Florence Broadhurst, and we’ve likened several of her patterns which you’ll see throughout the year. And as part of that, we launched a battle of the bands, girl bands, on Facebook. So we have five bands on there, competing to win a contest. The content is on there, people can vote. But there’s so much content on there that we had to reel it in and reorganize it. We just re-launched in November and new pieces are rolling out all the time.

Marissa: It’s a pretty amazing space for us because it’s so interesting to see when we post things, what engages consumer dialogue the most. I think it’s a good testing ground, too, for what content does better and who’s responding to what and how much is being shared. And just like Jo was saying, the battle of the bands, we launched that excited for a new way to talk to our customer base, and a new way to communicate with our fans, and hopefully gain even more fans, because it’s a really engaging concept, and there’s also going to be a live-stream concert on our tab next week. So we are doing a lot of new and innovative things on Facebook. It’s really exciting.

Last question. So your brand seems to be very open to customer feedback and engagement. As a luxury brand, did you have any challenges convincing internal stakeholders to adopt social?

Johanna: No we haven’t. Before I worked at Kate Spade, I worked in the provider of world-wide, where I sat across 18 different apparel and luxury brands, and have seen them struggle with the disconnect between ecommerce and the brand marketing team, and have seen different people struggle with getting by into ratings and reviews. None of that really happens here. I thought I was going to get a little bit of pushback when we went to launch ratings and reviews on Facebook, and our CEO was unbelievably supportive. We really believe in hearing our customers and addressing any concerns and needs that they have, so again there was really no concern here. The thing is, if you’re going to put yourself out there in the social world, you need to be able to accept to hear what customers are saying, good, bad, or ugly. We’ve been pretty lucky that our feedback has been positive, but when it is negative, we address it. We take it seriously from a customer service perspective, and we handle those issues. It’s a medium that has to be dealt with, you can’t put your head in the sand and ignore it. And I think we’ve been very lucky to have buy-in from senior management here to be able to get this done.

Marissa: Yeah, I think it’s really important to not be afraid of it. Everyone’s experiencing it, and you learn from it and just keep going.

Johanna: Customers are going to talk about you anyway. We’re a connected world, there are a million different places they can provide feedback about your brand. I’d rather they do it in a context that I can actually look at and control.

Marissa: I think it’s important not to hide it.