As we mentioned in the first installment of our PLANOLEADERS series, Instagram has become the premiere vehicle for visual storytelling for brands and influencers alike. Today's featured interviewee is no stranger to this idea as she has been able to harness the power of social media in both her personal and professional endeavors. Meet Rose Mayo, a bonafide marketing professional who currently heads up Marketing and Business Development at OTTE New York, a celebrated contemporary fashion boutique with five flourishing locations throughout the city. With our penchant for fashion we wanted to learn more from Rose, along with her thoughts on how to create compelling fashion-focused content and establish a consistent strategy for social media. We met with the style maven at OTTE's West Village location to find out more about Rose's career path, her day-to-day on the job and her overall thoughts on Instagram's rapidly changing landscape.
Hi! My name is Rose, and I'm the marketing and business development manager at OTTE New York, a mini-chain of Manhattan boutiques that sells contemporary luxury brands like Ulla Johnson, Suno, Isabel Marant, Yigal Azrouel, and many, many more. My title is broad because I cover a lot of things, from marketing and advertising to PR, brand management, and social media, along with event management and finding new partners, branding, and business opportunities for us. When I'm not working, I prefer to spend my time outside in the summer, or hitting up museums and movie theaters in the winter. I frequently indulge in well-balanced cocktails, baking and gardening (Midwesterner at heart!), any and all beach time I can get, and mixing my punk-grunge roots with the more minimal, elevated style I've come to appreciate as an adult.
Social media was what, unintentionally, got me my first job in NYC. This was in 2011, when brands were starting to realize the importance of having an online presence, but they weren't necessarily ready to invest in it yet. They were hiring a lot of fresh college grads who had some digital, PR, and marketing experience to really test this out, and I happened to fall into that category! I'd been dabbling in it for years, having helped a lot of friends in bands during high school and college with their MySpace profiles (I know, I know) and later building Facebook pages for local businesses. I came to NYC a year after college without a job, just a bachelor's in PR and photography. When a friend recommended me for a position with a costume jewelry company, I thought why not! I started their Twitter and Instagram pages, both of which were pretty new for brands. I left about three years ago to come to OTTE, where I am constantly immersed in all things digital—I write copy for our website, emails, and blog, as well as oversee posts to our social media channels, among a lot of other things.
Instagram has been an amazing channel to watch over the last few years. We have a lot of fans scattered across the globe that probably wouldn't otherwise know about OTTE, but when they visit NYC they stop in our stores and tell our sales associates that they follow us on Instagram and made a point to come in while they're here. It's also an incredible tool for connecting with people; I've made several friends in real life who I first connected with on Instagram, or my connection with someone has been stronger because we were already following each other or had mutual friends through the app. I also really like discovering the more "random" profiles, people who have a solid following and engagement but aren't necessarily the ones people write and talk about all the time. These are some of my favorite people to work with. That, and photographers! They have some of the best feeds on the app, and they approach things differently than the fashion crowd, which can be refreshing.
My day-to-day is all over the place, depending on the season and what we're focusing on. I usually start off answering emails and getting organized for the day, then spend mid-morning and afternoons on bigger projects, preparing or answering interviews, formatting for our blog, brainstorming with our creative team, preparing new content, visiting our stores, on calls with partners, and a whole host of other things. Some days I am out all day for events, conferences, or on set for photoshoots. Since we carry a lot of traditionally seasonal brands, there can be lulls during winter and summer, and things really pick up steam during the spring and fall seasons. With Instagram, I spent the first two years doing all our posts myself every day, which at first included a lot of content I was creating on my phone and in my day-to-day life (I was also blogging at the time, so I would do a lot of cross-over with my own content for lifestyle posts around the city). Some of our best performing posts from that time would be me creating flat-lays on the floor of our offices, either to highlight certain items or entire outfits. I'd shoot three or four of these a few nights a week and post the best ones later. As our business and team grew, I've shared posting responsibilities with the team I manage, but I still review and approve our content and give input on captions and layout. I'm the one posting right now, which has been nice to get back to after having a break and being able to look at it with a new perspective! Most all of our content is now created by our in-house creative team in editorials and still life shoots, which has freed up some of my time to focus on other projects. I also try and spend 20 or 30 minutes a day scrolling through the feed on OTTE's account and my personal one to see what people are posting and talking about, and looking for new accounts to follow and connect with.
This is applicable in a few different ways. Make sure you always have content prepared; we usually plan up to two weeks in advance so that we're able to post consistently without having to post lower quality filler images while we produce our next set. Also, it's important to stay on top of what other people are posting; when a tragedy happens, it never looks good for the brands who are posting about their latest sale or new arrivals. Rearrange your calendar so you can post something thoughtful or meaningful if these situations are applicable to you or your business.
All that being said, don't feel like you have to post something because you already planned it out that way! If your followers aren't reacting to or engaging with your content, sometimes the best thing to do is to switch it up. Try posting at a different time than originally planned, or swap out one post for something else that you feel will speak to your followers more. It's OK to be spontaneous; we often post straight from our phones during events or weekends. Some of our best performing posts came from a winter snowstorm or beautiful street shot we captured. People are getting much more savvy about how brands and influencers work on Instagram, and they want authenticity, not pre-packaged content.
It doesn't matter if you're posting as a brand or on your personal account; people are following you for a reason, so it's important to determine what that reason is and make sure to tap into it! Do your captions use quirky emojis? Are all your photos a similar hue? It's more visually pleasing, and will attract more followers, when there is a good flow to the photos; great captions will make your audience want to leave comments and get to know you better.
Be authentic, and be engaging AND engage. OTTE is a local brand and company to NYC; even though our followers may be scattered around the world, we ourselves are fairly small, so a lot of personalities shine through. That's something we want to share with our followers, so we highlight a lot of creative talents, and when I write a caption I try to be fun and interesting. To be engaging and engaged means that you're posting things people want to see (what are some of your best performing posts? what are the best posts from profiles similar to yours?) and you're also interacting with your audience. Unless you're a massive fashion company known around the globe, you have to figure out what's going to make people care about you and your company. A lot of this comes from simple, bare bones insta-networking. Follow people back, like their photos, leave comments, send them a message—you never know who's going to take off next, who may shop with your company, if that person will come to you with an amazing project or proposal to work together in the future.
To be honest, I've kind of let my personal brand slip a bit over the last year or two. Before I started at OTTE, I was feeling creatively stifled, so I (like many others before and after me) started my own blog. I was spending a lot of time surfing the web and finding new things, from personal to lifestyle to fashion blogs, and tons of small companies and products. I wanted a place to catalog them all, so Blonde in This City was born. I haven't posted in just over a year, but I've been feeling the itch to revive it in some way lately—likely as a more personal online journal of sorts; I've always liked to write and frequently jot down short essays on things, and I've also found those are the types of posts I want to see from others, not the same-old same-old fashion blogging pictures. To be determined on when and how this will happen, but the cogs have started to turn again. I'm not sure yet how this will translate to my Instagram; for now, I've been posting whenever I feel inspired by a place or picture, which is usually one or two times a week. My partner and I have been traveling more often, and I've been spending copious amounts of time at the beach—my posts reflect this, so much so that a friend I haven't seen in a while recently asked me if I was working this summer, or just going to the beach! I usually mix in a lot of travel and lifestyle posts, but my followers engage best when I'm in the picture, so I've been trying to get back into that more, even if I'm not taking a full set of outfit photos like I used to.
I tend to go through phases on who I want to follow, and I try and go on un-following sprees when I feel like I'm not interested in a lot of what I'm seeing anymore, or everything starts to look the same. At first it was other fashion bloggers and brands, then it was photographers, and lately I've been following a ton of interiors & plant-focused profiles (like I mentioned before, I love to garden, and there is never a time plants aren't pretty!).
My friend @niki_csanyi takes some of the most beautiful photos and is always traveling to places I didn't even know I wanted to go to. She is very personal and tells a story with her images; you'd never guess that she plans some of it in advance. I also love @corinanika's profile—she lives in Greece and everything is the most beautiful blue color in her profile, she's incredibly consistent and inspires major, major travel envy. For brands, I really love @negativeunderwear. They're fun and playful, but also do a great job of featuring their product in a way that makes me feel like I could be in one of those images, too. Their content is also a great mix of image types, from illustrations to regrams to their own images and inspiration, but with one singular theme.