DKNY’s 10 Commandments of Luxury Social Media, Part I


Aliza Licht

“If you’re not speaking for yourself on behalf of your brand, someone else is speaking for you, about you or against you,” said Aliza Licht, SVP, Global Communications, Donna Karan International, during her presentation at the Luxury Interactive conference.

If you don’t know of Aliza and claim to be a luxury brand on top of you’re social media – we hate to break it to you but…you’re not. She’s pretty much social media royalty. And she’s really funny to boot.

Licht has taken the now infamous Twitter handle, @dkny, to sensationally high engagement heights, and has created a social media benchmark that all brands in the luxury retail space should look to for inspiration.

At the conference, she shared her 10 Commandments for Luxury Social Media, five of which we bring you right here, right now. Stay tuned for Part II, where you’ll get the rest. Here we go:

1. Go where people are. “Authenticity and transparency were the two things that were important to me when we started,” said Licht. “I’ve never had a content calendar. It’s all off the cuff and it’s all me. If I’m in a meeting for four hours, you’re probably not going to see a tweet. I’m not updating all these platforms all day, it’s more as I feel like it. I don’t believe in this strict schedules – you have to post when it makes sense,” and people will be there to receive it.

2. Create a community. It’s easy to throw around the word “community,” but how do you create one? Licht does so by organizing people around things she thinks they want to talk about. For instance, one day she felt depressed about the bad weather in New York, so she started a hashtag, #showmeyourweather, and got hundreds of responses. “It shows that the world is really small,” she said.

Another example was asking people about their energy levels in the middle of the day. “I’m like everybody else,” she said. “I go to work, and by 3 p.m. I want to kill myself.” She was, of course, kidding, and we all laughed with her. Licht wants to let everyone know that it’s ok to feel terrible sometimes because there are others out there who you can commiserate with. A community can be created via social media on nearly anything that is relatable.

Another way is to create a community around something you aspire toward but can’t be a part of. Licht created a #twitterball with Vogue for the prestigious Met Ball that no one, including Licht, is every invited to (unless you’re at the Beyonce/SJP level.) So what Licht did was create a little online community where she tweeted about the ball and made people feel like they were all hanging out together, at the ball. “People like having plans with people they don’t know,” she said – to which we all couldn’t help but laugh, again.

3. Attraction not promotion. “You can’t make people like you,” said Licht. “I have made a job out of live tweeting TV shows because I believe the people who buy DKNY can relate to the shows that I watch.” She advised that brands should try to attract customers through relatable means. Sure, not everyone will like you or relate to everything you tweet – but there will be plenty of people who do. Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 2.59.13 PM

4. Fly on the wall. Licht explained that when she started in the fashion world, she had no idea about the kinds of jobs that people did. Now, she understands it all, the PR, the event coordination, the designers, the production, etc. Most people are like Licht was: they don’t understand what goes on behind the fashion scenes. So, why not show them? Entice them by giving them a peak into your world and letting them be a fly on the wall.

Licht started tweeting about celebrity dresses at events and realized that there is so much knowledge just around that very accomplishment (getting a celeb to wear your brand’s dress), that others do not understand. “You realize that there’s so much knowledge we have that can be interesting to people,” she said. This led to a Facebook effort whereby fans could see how a dress goes from production to the red carpet, and all the things that happen to get to that point.

5. Think outside your box. “You know who you are and who you work for,” said Licht. “But you have to go beyond that. There’s a whole audience out there that you’re not thinking about because you’re so used to thinking about your brand in one way.

Licht stated that Donna Karan was once thought of as the brand that would dress people like Barbara Streisand, Helen Mirren, or her mother. She wasn’t thinking about dressing girls for prom, for instance. Until a 16-year-old tried on a Donna Karan dress and shook up everything for Licht and her colleagues. Why shouldn’t we be marketing to this audience, she thought. Shake up your traditional thinking, your preconceived notion of your audience, and you’ll be amazed at what kinds of things can open up to you.

Stay tuned for part two…