Insider Access: Q&A with Cannon Hodge, Bergdorf Goodman

For the next few days on Fashion’s Collective, we are bringing you insider access to our Fashion Brain Bar event, which took place on March 11th, on the roof of the W Hotel in Austin during SXSW interactive. We gathered an elite group of industry experts for a day beside the pool, and took question submissions from around the globe. Here’s some of what was said: Q. You do an amazing job on Twitter and social media. Can you give a quick overview on how you stay on top on @ replies. I’m curious because your approach is warm and friendly and you really connect and engage with your followers! There has to be a method of madness! Thank you!  A.First – thank you!!  I’m really fond of twitter and how it’s given Bergdorf Goodman’s single New York address such an instant connection to the world.  From the very first tweet we knew we wanted to create a human connection – Bergdorf can be overwhelming so we knew this would be the place to show the store’s personality.  That said, we still wanted to provide the best customer service possible (it’s a matter of pride for us) – so I make a point to read every tweet and mention and respond when applicable.  The entire company is attuned to how quickly twitter unfolds, so we have a rule that any customer service issue must be answered within an hour. In terms of monitoring, I use tweetdeck when in the office.  It’s really a fantastic way to simultaneously see everything – from messages sent to @bergdorfs and our Men’s Store handle @BergdorfGoodMan to what others on twitter are saying about Bergdorf, Linda Fargo or even our documentary Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s .  When not in the office, I’ll check my echofon app every hour or so – my only rule is to put my phone away when with family and friends.  Other than that, I’m pretty tapped in. Q. Do you find managing social media is easier on a computer or a mobile device? A. It really depends on the platform and if it originally were intended to be used on a computer or mobile device.  Tweetdeck makes it very easy to monitor conversation from my desktop computer; however, I prefer monitoring instagram from its iphone application. Q. What apps do you use to centralize all of your social media accounts? Do you have any favorites that really get the job done?  A. Bergdorf Goodman currently is active on approximately 13-14 platforms – and we create unique content for each platform’s audience.  Our blog 5th/58th and brand’s Facebook page serve as a our general hub; however, each of the spaces talk to the other.  A blog post featuring party dresses may also include a spotify playlist of Get Ready music while an image shared on tumblr may drive to an event invitation on Facebook. That said, I don’t use social project management tools (like Hootsuite) to schedule content. I prefer using the platforms’ own technology and applications because I feel that it keeps us more aware of its audience, community and conversation.  Similar to my panelists in our Listening & Leveraging panel Monday afternoon, I don’t schedule tweets because I feel that it can make the message feel less sincere; however, unlike Aliza and John, I will queue Facebook posts (we’ll delve into that further Monday) as well as our Tumblr and 5th//58th posts. We use SmartSheet and Evernote to keep all of our platforms, content and strategy succinct.  Both are incredible tools for synching information and notes when you aren’t at your desk, and I absolutely love how Smart Sheet turns what looks like a basic excel breakdown into a color-coded calendar. Q. As the premier luxury retailer in the United States, how do you balance and blend the modern attributes of social media/technology with the esteemed history and practices of Bergdorf Goodman?  A. That is a really good question. For a company like Bergdorf Goodman, what’s most important to consider is how to bring its history and legacy to the digital sphere (rather than worry how digital will change its history).  Just this Fall we celebrated our 111th Anniversary – we wrapped the store up with ribbon, created limited-edition shopping bags and shared our history through our new book of essaysScatter My Ashes at Bergdorf Goodman (edited by Sarah James Mnookin) and forthcoming documentary Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s; in addition, we created an interactive timeline on our website.  This was a full-fledged omnichannel project that connected every element of our store.  And what made this project so special was how integrated it became: what you pass by in the store may include a QR code driving to more information on our blog, 5th/58th.  You may even find a video of a designer discussing their BG story.  In a sense, Bergdorf Goodman itself has become an interactive museum where passersby can catch a glimpse of BG history while still experiencing the very best in fashion.  Enter our Michael Kors boutique, shop his latest collection, then watch a video of him recounting how he was discovered by our previous President Dawn Mello.  Visit our Main Floor Loewe boutique and access a story about the historic chandelier hanging overhead.  By taking advantage of these digital touch points, we’ve discovered a way to weave our past into our present.
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