SocialBytes Spotlight: Cannon Hodge of Bergdorf Goodman

Marni Golden

geek chic 2 SocialBytes Spotlight: Cannon Hodge of Bergdorf Goodman

While many associate department store Bergdorf Goodman with the “ladies who lunch” Upper East Side crowd, Cannon Hodge has introduced the legendary store to a tech-savvy and stylish audience. See Cannon as part of our 10 Most Stylish Social Media Gurus feature, and read below to hear more about this new media expert.

StyleCaster: What led you to a career in social media?

Cannon Hodge: It’s crazy to think that I’ll be celebrating seven years with Bergdorf Goodman this Fall.  I began as our Trunk Show coordinator, booking models and organizing designers’ in-store appearances, and I eventually progressed into helping organize special events.

As we began to understand the importance of social media, we started developing a strategy to make Bergdorf more personable in the digital space.  I already knew the store on an incredibly intimate level – curious little details like that Betty Halbreich has a major green thumb when it comes to orchids or that Hanson in our finance department is a secret pastry hobbyist – and understood how we needed to share that with our followers.

SC: What did you study, and/or was your education related to your current career?

CH: English with a concentration in creative writing.  So much of what I currently do is the result of extensive reading and figuring things out.  However I do believe that my English background gave me the backbone to develop Bergdorf Goodman’s social voice.

SC: Given social media is a relatively new job space, as a kid, what did you envision yourself doing as an adult?

CH: To be honest? I wanted to be a veterinarian.

SC: Please list 3 apps you use for your job.

CH: Not including the usual suspects like Echofon, Instagram and Facebook’s new Manager app… also, there are four: Evernote for synching notes on iPhone, iPad and computer, Easy Release for on-the-go photo releases (thanks Kristen Joy Watts and Ramsay de Give, Group Me for keeping up with our little SM team (thanks to @narsissist) and Weico for sending messages to our Weibo followers (@bagsnob introduced me to it).

SC: Where do you see social media headed in 3-5 years?

CH: Platforms will continue to evolve and change – but what remains is this new excitement for personal connection.  Communities will continue to grow but also become more precise, creating little digital niches. Also social will become more and more mobile-based.  To be honest, I don’t even own a home computer because I’m able to do the same (if not more) from my iPad.  That I can stay in constant communication with my three best friends from boarding school, although they are scattered throughout the South, only shows how easily mobile connects the world on a deeply personal level… and is only a preview of where brands and companies will take mobile in the coming years.

All of our sales associates have iPhones so that they can connect in a way that is most convenient for our customers.  This type of conveyance only will progress in the coming years.

SC: How many social accounts do you maintain for your job (Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.)? Which are your favorites and why?

CH: Bergdorf Goodman currently is on thirteen platforms, and I manage every one except our BG Bridal Facebook account, which is updated by our bridal manager. Our blog 5th/58th has many contributors including Linda Fargo and members of our merchant team, as does our Pinterest account.  As we become more and more active in social, we’re opening up the opportunity for more and more BG associates to be involved.  This is a very exciting time for us, especially with the approach of our 111th Anniversary celebration this fall. 

SC: Is there someone in social media that you look up to or see as doing an exemplary job?

CH: There are so many, and they change all the time.  I always appreciate brands that bring the digital element to the real world – adore hand-written notes with hashtags, tweet-ups… activities that allow us to interact beyond our keyboards and hand-held devices.  Those who work with elasticity while recognizing the power of 140-characters are the ones who catch my attention. The Oscar de la Renta team does a fantastic job of making their heritage approachable and personable.  Michael Kors is so on top of their game right now.  Also, Ford Models is killing it – we have some fun things planned with them to celebrate BGs 111th.  CFDA has been top of mind lately, too.  Love GQ’s Facebook page.

Outside of fashion, the team behind the Dallas TV Show – they’re so clever.  I’ve also been following Oreo’s centennial as I plan for our own 111th.  Audi is another one I’ve been studying.

SC: Describe what sets social media gurus, like yourselves, apart from those of us who simply mess around on Twitter, Facebook etc., i.e. how does social media strategy factor into your brand?

CH: Social is a part of Bergdorf Goodman – just as much as any other facet of the store.  Sometimes a concept evolves from a social media plan whereas other times social is woven in after the project has begun. Either way, social is fully integrated into everything that we do in the store and online – from our interactive in-store Timeline to recently live-pinning and tweeting a preview of the Badgley Mischka Resort 2013 collection with Mark & James in our Evening boutique on the Fourth Floor.

SC: What’s the biggest blunder you’ve made posting on a social network?

CH: Mistakes happen.  We’re human and, in my experience, followers find that human element quite endearing.  I think what’s important is to recognize that and move forward.  Social is fast-paced.  Forgive and forget and march on!

SC: Any advice to newbies trying to break into this space?

CH: Don’t expect to become an overnight sensation.  While this role is incredibly fun and exhilarating, it also requires time, creativity, research and a great deal of wit.  Research and read everything; even if a company is not in the same field as your own brand, they can be a treasure trove of inspiration. Accept and embrace constructive criticism.  It always is an opportunity to learn something.  There is no off button when you work in social.  Work begins as soon as you wake up and never really stops.  Know how to manage expectations and always take time to stop, breathe and look up.

SC: How many smart phones do you carry on a daily basis, and how often do you drop them? 

CH: One and I drop it constantly.  It’s like those favorite pair of shoes that is desperate for a visit to the shoe repair but you just can’t bear to part with them…

My iPad is my central nervous system – I never part with it.  It’s how I take meeting notes, create keynote presentations on the subway (yes, that’s happened – several times), listen to music, keep up with the news via Zite…  FaceTime with family… I even succumbed to downloading this week’s book on it.  Seriously.

SC: Blackberry or iPhone?

CH: iPhone, iPad