The fashion world has been waiting for Vogue’s online strategy developments for a while now, especially since Anna Wintour promised us to “own the online space more in the next year” during her live interview in May in NYC. Today her camp released an interesting piece of news – Wintour and publishing director have hired the President Obama’s favored web strategists. “Blue State Digital, the progressive-oriented online consultancy that famously created my.barackobama.com, has been hired to work on Vogue.com on both the editorial and business sides. They’re focusing on outreach to readers and subscribers, says the spokesman.”
I find it ironic for Vogue (the most anti-social and elitist glossy on the newsstand) to hire the most famous community-powered social network creators out there. Is Anna and her shoulder padded force finally ready to embrace CHANGE that goes beyond replacement of sequins with studs? CHANGE that puts power in the hands of people, just like the homepage of My.BarackObama.com says: “Because it’s about YOU”? While I don’t expect to see My.AnnaWintour.com in the near future, here are some of the thoughts I have for Vogue for potentially creating an online community:
- Connecting the audience – They have a great potential to connect their large following without compromising the exclusivity. Vogue Insider program already exists, but is lacking any social capabilities. Connecting the insiders together can create a very passionate group, and multiply its influence.
- Creating targeted marketing and distribution channels - The new online social tools can allow a more effective way to create customized communication channels with Vogue subscribers – from letting targeted groups test products before they hit shelves, to actually organizing private member only sales. This could be a whole new revenue channel for a publisher like Vogue.
- Leveraging offline events online - Insiders only offline events run by Vogue can have a life of their own online, with post event photos and social exchange.
- Driving the conversation - Vogue can raise important questions and “recruit” passionate readers for various causes they promote, as well as create interactive experiences that will allow members to express themselves.
- Lastly, they have the best chance in raising the next generation of thought leaders empowered by personal style. Do we need more magazines, more fashion content, more communities? No. What we need is someone to raise above and set new standards of building, managing and inspiring fashion communities. Who if not Vogue can do that? Maybe it is about time for Vogue to stop featuring socialites and start building social features.