Donna Karan International's SVP of Global Communications Aliza Licht: "Twitter is my first love"

From time to time, we invite industry influencers to write a guest post on our blog and share best practices and insights related to advertising, marketing and Twitter.

In 2009, Twitter was my first entrée into social media. Since then, I’ve joined many social platforms, but Twitter is still my favorite. You never forget your first love, right? What other platform in the world offers instant global engagement and up-to-the second news quite like Twitter? Yeah, that’s what I thought. It’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s made the world a smaller place.

Here’s a glimpse of @DKNY’s beginning on Twitter, the evolution of our community and how we’ve recently taken our global messaging.

Authenticity is everything

We were one of the first luxury fashion brands on Twitter and had to pave our own way. We knew authenticity would be key, so we decided that our Twitter presence would give followers a glimpse into the world of Donna Karan through the eyes of public relations. DKNY PR GIRL was born and loosely inspired by Gossip Girl, a popular NYC-based show at the time.

DKNY on Twitter

DKNY PR GIRL was meant to be a fake character who would live her “life” drawing on real content from the daily activities in our PR world. Hence the idea of a sketch as the avatar.

Because I have been a “pr girl” at Donna Karan for fifteen years, I didn’t have to create a personality that lived and breathed the brands, because I already did. Ultimately, by being myself, I created DKNY PR GIRL. From a management standpoint, we knew that it was important that one, seasoned person manage the handle. (Tip: Twitter is too important to hand to an intern.)

As soon as I became active on Twitter, it became very obvious to me that social interaction needed to be in real time and all the time. Come Saturday, our followers still wanted to hear from @dkny. It started to feel uncomfortable pretending that DKNY PR GIRL was off on a photo shoot when I was really getting a manicure. So I decided to also tweet about my life outside of the office anonymously.

That lasted for two years until we decided that the anonymity wasn’t necessary anymore. We pulled back the veil and did a big reveal through a behind-the-scenes at Fashion Week video.

Twitter is a real-time diary of my world. I use it to promote the intersection of pop culture, PR, our designs, my real-time dramas and sometimes frustrations (see the hashtag #PRGirlProblems). It’s not sugar-coated. It’s real life in the world of fashion and I’m very open.

Listen to your audience

In 2011, my Twitter friends asked me to start a blog on Tumblr. They wanted a more visual library of content and more writing. So I created dknyprgirl.com. The tag line for the blog was aptly named “When 140 characters aren’t enough”.

Since people don’t really write long form on Tumblr (it’s mostly images), I use Twitter to promote my blog posts. I always say that Twitter and Tumblr are like brother and sister. Every month, when I check my Google analytics, Twitter is always the number one driver for views.

Twitter also has a very strong presence on dkny.com. We’ve even integrated “PR Girl’s picks” on the products I love. We’ll be launching the redesign of donnakaran.com and dkny.com this fall and my Twitter timeline will be on both homepages. From a four-wall retail standpoint, digital screens that feature my blog and Twitter in real time, are incorporated into all of our new shop concepts.

Bring digital to life

This year, we launched #DKNYArtworks, an outdoor art installation that was featured in ten international cities. Each piece was a billboard of the DKNY logo re-imagined through the eyes of an artist tied to that particular city. To launch this campaign, we created a microsite (dknyartworks.com) and behind the scenes videos with each artist.

We utilized DKNYfx, our augmented reality app to bring the billboards to life in each city. In London, where we had a 3D giant version of the logo moving around the city, I hosted Twitter scavenger hunts where followers could guess where it was going based on a series of tweeted clues.

Through all of this though, Twitter ran as a common thread of promotion. I used Promoted Tweets to target each country individually, while also running a master campaign to achieve global awareness. The most exciting moment for the project was on June 9th when #DKNYArtworks was organically the #1 global trending hashtag, even on the finale day of Game of Thrones! It stayed as a top seven global hashtag for three hours.

Not only was I able to serve up geo-targeted rich content, but I was able to keep my @dkny timeline clean without too much promotion. I also never had to flood my timeline with country-specific content that the rest of our followers didn’t care about. Promoted Tweets allowed me to deliver messages that were relevant and interesting to local audiences seamlessly.

The three-week campaign generated 11.2 million impressions on Twitter alone, trended globally and sparked engagement rates as high as 5%. Twitter was also the top traffic driver to our microsite, dknyartworks.com.

Connect to drive results

@dkny has won “Best Twitter” every year since the inception of Style Coalition’s Fashion 2.0 Awards in 2010. But we measure success on Twitter in engagement. People share and engage with @dkny, and that’s what is especially important to me.

Our followers know that I’m going to live tweet Scandal every Thursday. They know that they’re going to get a real invite to my red carpet Twitter party for the Emmys and the Oscars — and every award show in between. On those nights, it’s like we’re all on the same virtual couch together. There’s a real feeling of togetherness. I think @dkny’s Twitter presence gives true meaning to the word community.

Twitter allows me to create very personal, ongoing relationships. It’s created a space that is intimate and a dialogue that’s 24/7. I think that if you asked people that follow, it never feels like a massive brand pushing a commercial message.

And yet I’ve sold so many DKNY Cozy sweaters on Twitter that it’s not even funny. Last week, someone tweeted to ask if we sell the DKNY Cozy at the Atlanta International airport and I responded. Within just four Tweets, she was posting a picture of her new DKNY Cozy.

That’s the power of Twitter.

Follow @dkny for an insider’s perspective on New York Fashion Week (#NYFW).