Lindsay Simon is a busy woman. One minute, she’s capturing behind-the-scenes footage on location around Los Angeles or in HauteLook/Nordstromrack.com’s Culver City photo studio. The next minute, she’s brainstorming and outlining the next influencer collaboration or giveaway concept with her partner, Alana Leiter. After that, you might find her styling an outfit for social media, building trackable shopping links, working on new content strategies, meeting with the photo/graphics team or requesting cross-category samples.
As the Senior Social Media Specialist for HauteLook, Lindsay ensures that all the content shared on the company’s social media channels is engaging, effective and on-brand. The stakes are high: HauteLook has 194k followers on Instagram, nearly 1 million likes on Facebook, over 117k followers on Twitter and 132k followers on Pinterest. Despite the pressure, Lindsay gives off a contagious energy and passion that resonates with her team.
After graduating from Boston College, Lindsay interned at Harper’s BAZAAR, completed an intensive writing program at New York University, then moved back to her hometown of Los Angeles to jump head-first into social media strategy. She’s seen plenty in her young career — from the rise of influencer marketing to massive changes in the way consumers discover and buy products. In a recent interview, Lindsay described what makes an influencer marketing campaign successful, why shoppable social has been a game-changer and why user-generated content is absolutely crucial.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Describe your typical day at HauteLook?
Every day is different and I wouldn’t have it any other way. On Tuesdays, I’m at our Culver City, Calif. photo studio styling and capturing social media content with our photographers, gathering additional marketing assets, shooting giveaways or behind-the-scenes video content. You can usually find me running around with two cellphones, a laptop under my arm, juggling a coffee and trying to photograph something all at the same time. Our photo studio is constantly buzzing with creativity and innovative thinking. It’s incredibly inspiring. Usually, the rest of the week, I’m based out of our corporate headquarters in Downtown LA. As the Senior Social Media Specialist, I’m head of content and photography for all of our social media channels, but I also work heavily on our influencer partnerships. In my position, I experience both the business and the creative side of marketing. I’ve got a “ride-or-die” team. They are so creative, driven and full of ideas.
How do you ensure there’s unique content on all of HauteLook’s social channels? What works best for each channel?
Each of our social media platforms draws in different people from various backgrounds who share unique interests. For example, our Instagram followers are pretty different from our Facebook followers in terms of interests, age range and shopping habits. Drawing from our analytics about our followers on each account and from past experience, we create unique content for each platform. It’s important to give our followers what they want, but it’s equally imperative to surprise them here and there. We have a loyal following of people who really trust our opinion when it comes to fashion, beauty and home décor, so we have to nurture that while also pushing fresh trends and testing out new strategies. In all honesty, it takes time to develop a brand voice and keep it consistent, recognizable and relatable. We make it a priority to work closely with our copywriters and internal team members to make sure our social voice aligns well with the content on our website.
What do influencer marketing campaigns look like at HauteLook?
Alana Leiter and I spearhead the influencer partnerships for HauteLook. She’s my work wife and someone I look up to immensely. I’m pretty sure we can read each other’s minds. We both started working for HauteLook at the same time, which was such a blessing because we really grew together. We pushed and pushed the boundaries for social media and the importance of influencer marketing early on and still do! For each campaign, we do a ton of research before even reaching out to an influencer. We ask ourselves a few fundamental questions:
- Does he or she match HauteLook’s aesthetic?
- Is this someone we feel confident representing our brand?
- How is their social media engagement (not just followers and likes)?
- What types of brands do they typically work with?
From there, we narrow down the list and then reach out. We plan about a month-and-a-half in advance for influencer partnerships and execute usually two or more per month.
What was one of your most memorable influencer campaigns?
The most memorable (in my mind at least) was a recent collaboration we did with Casey Holmes this past June. Holmes is a top beauty influencer on YouTube, but also has a tremendous following and voice on Instagram and Twitter. When we were launching MAC Cosmetics for the first time, it was the perfect opportunity to sign her. However, Casey is very selective about who she works with because her followers truly trust what she promotes, so we knew there was a big chance we wouldn’t land her. After putting together a carefully crafted deck, we reached out to a couple people at her agency. Then, something crazy happened. Alana and I received the e-mail from her agent that I’ll never forget. It read, “Something is in the air…Casey’s in!” I remember yelling out loud to Alana and then we high-fived and hugged. It was a slam dunk.
Trying to prove ROI on influencer marketing campaigns is not always easy. How do you do it?
This is a great question. We are able to show ROI because we provide trackable links to each influencer and they implement these links into their content. As a result, we are able to pull data on key metrics such as site visitors, clicks, revenue and new buyers. It’s incredibly useful data, especially since influencer marketing can sometimes feel like gambling. For example, a lot of people ask me, “how can you really guarantee a specific blogger will drive X amount of sales? If they have exceptionally high engagement across their social channels, does that mean they automatically drive unique visitors to our site?” Not always. It’s a gamble, but an educated gamble. A risk worth taking. On a similar note, we also see a lot of sales happening through our affiliate networks who speak to HauteLook flash events organically.
How has shoppable social changed the game for HauteLook?
Where do I begin!? When it comes to online shopping, everyone is looking for the same thing: an easy, quick experience. Add a bunch of steps to get the consumer to the product and you’ve lost your customer. These days, people are constantly on-the-go. Your mobile shopping experience HAS to be as seamless as your desktop shopping experience. Our shoppable social channels and custom URL’s have made the shopping experience fast and effective. We have our Curalate Like2Buy link in our Instagram profile, which brings users directly to each piece featured in the social media post. With heavy emphasis on the mobile experience, we ensure to link out each product we feature.
Online product discovery has changed in major ways. Consumers are ready to buy on places as varied as Facebook, Instagram or a blog post. How has that changed HauteLook’s marketing efforts?
You need to know your customer. Their interests, their background, what they seek out, what excites them. When it comes to product discovery, people feel most inspired when our products are presented in an aesthetically pleasing way. It has to capture their eye with written content that matches our brand voice. Ultimately, our customers and followers come to us as someone they trust in the fashion industry because of our consistent voice and our engaging content. We put a lot of thought and strategy into what we feature on our social channels. We carefully select samples in advance to shoot for social media and always ask ourselves: “Are these products on-trend for our customer?” “Are they seasonally relevant?” “How can we ensure the image is shoppable in the easiest, most convenient way?” By answering these questions and analyzing past social content that has performed well for us, we are able to present our customers with fresh, on-trend content.
How might online product discovery change in the future?
With the rise of video content, behind-the-scenes footage and influencers driving customers to our website, there’s a lot of room for product discovery to change in the future. People want to be able to relate with the content. I always say: “social media never sleeps.” And it’s true! Every day, I learn something new in my position. Social media as whole, shopping habits, product discovery, the importance of influencer partnerships, different ways to repurpose UGC — all of these are constantly evolving. It’s a fast-paced, but extremely exciting industry to be in.
Speaking of UGC, what are your thoughts on the future of user-generated content? Will it be even more crucial in the future?
Absolutely. UGC is already crucial and will continue to be an important component of social media marketing. Not only does this content give us direct feedback on products that are popular and being purchased on our website, but regramming and repurposing UGC is a way to reward the customer, bringing more awareness to HauteLook while also encouraging followers to keep posting and tagging their HauteLook finds.