Google. Home to search, YouTube and Glasses. But did you know they’ve been ramping up their style quotient? Sure, the Google Glasses are an obvious “technology meets style” hook, but what about actual fashion? Google doesn’t pretend to be a fashion designer company, but hidden within their many properties lies a huge network of stylish users. Google Plus, their home-grown social network is being utilized by fashion bloggers and designer brands to reach a whole new audience.
But can Google Plus work as a stand-alone fashion site or as a complement to a blog? And why would you look to it over other social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook?
Part of the Google Plus appeal lies within its “hangouts,” the multi-video chats where people can talk, share and see each other. Google Plus users have been very creative with this aspect, and designers are adding a whole new level of interaction with their fans.
This October, Google and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) teamed up to create high-profile hangouts, where users could tune in to watch Diane Von Furstenburg or Rebecca Minkoff. In the hangout they could ask them questions - LIVE- have them answered - LIVE - and also use Google’s e-commerce tool to buy items from the collection.
We got ahold of Ria Tobaccowala, Head of Lifestyle Partnerships at Google+, to find out a bit more about how this works.
“The fashion space on Google+ is growing and we were thinking about how we could make this more engaging. We want to excite our audience!”
“We partnered with the CFDA as they are a great representation of the fashion industry, and a perfect partner for our platform.”
The CFDA were largely self-directed in terms of choices of the “celebrity fashion designer” hangouts, reaching out to DVF, Minkoff and more, as well as incorporating the blogger hosts of the show - Tina Craig from The Bag Snob, Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power from Who What Wear and more.
“Awhile back Elle Magazine did a hangout with celebrities that included Rachel Zoe, Neiman Marcus and Coca Rocha,” Tobaccowala said. “It was great to have those trend talks, but we thought what if you could watch this and shop at the same time. What if you could buy what they were referring to, to make it more engaging?”
Brands have been eager to incorporate Google Hangouts into their outreach as it lets them give something personal and unique to their fanbase. Marc Jacobs used Google+ Hangouts as part of his February 2013 New York Fashion Week runway show and Rachel Zoe did “The Zoe Report: Rent the Runway” with hangouts during September's New York Fashion Week.
This type of collaboration builds anticipation and can bring in new users as well.
This strategy worked, if blogger buzz is anything to go by. This was partly because the DVF brand is beloved, partly because the hosting bloggers were high profile, and partly because so many people use Google services like Gmail everyday.
“What’s lovely about the hangout is they are good for all audiences, whatever they love," Tobaccowala said. “Politics, science, fashion, the format is dynamic, and makes video social.”
Google Plus is also an interesting place for fashion bloggers looking to make a name for themselves. In a world where fashion blogs are two a penny, it’s easy to get lost and creating a community on G+ can be a good starting point.
“We do see a lot of up and coming bloggers," said Tobaccowala. “They want to be part of the conversation, and they kin communities where the influencers are.”
Let’s not be completely altruistic here: Another reason Google Plus is gaining popularity with designers and brands is that it’s a money-making machine. Sure, they connect with their fans, but they are also selling to them; it’s just multimedia style.
“The platform is twofold,” said Tobbacowala. “Brands connect with consumers and have genuine conversations, and lets their be a two way voice between them. We want tech to make people's lives better, and the fashion space and social commerce makes it a lot more interesting."
“We’re not stopping with this,” said Tobaccowala. “We’re all about pushing innovations and boundaries, and working on the next big idea: How do we continue working with others and exploring the shoppable hangout app.”
Hot Spot: Some of the Fabulous Fashion Bloggers on Google Plus
With over 40,000 Google Plus followers, this male fashion blogger is pretty active. He regularly posts what he’s wearing, links to his blog and chats with his fans.
Jay Strut Your text to link…
With over 600,000 Google+ followers, Toronto-based Jay Strut is an active user. Conversation-wise, he doesn’t respond that often to comments, and uses his page like Pinterest. Lots of lovely stuff to look at.
This Miami blogger is slowly growing her Google Plus community, but making it uber desirable with a mixture of lust-inspiring outfit posts and links to fun blog posts - that aren't just her own. Her mixture of style and humor make it a really engaging page and I love that she highlighted Joss Whedon (fangirl here.)