The show floor is buzzing this week for Magic, the massive fashion trade event running Monday through Wednesday at the Las Vegas and Mandalay Bay convention centers, with related events all around town.
But the impact of the event goes well beyond the walls of the show's venues here in Las Vegas: Digital and social media strategies have allowed Magic to transform from a twice-yearly program in town to a 365-day platform that reaches fashion industry people all over the world.
To make that happen, organizers looked in part to inspiration found in other successful shows, like the TED Conference. “TED is an excellent example of a show that creates a year-round interactive experience. C.E.S. and South by Southwest have also been successful with this. Magic hopes to set the standard for fashion industry trade shows creating 365-day-a-year digital experiences,” said Chris DeMoulin, president of Magic International and executive vice president of Advanstar Fashion Group.
Magic saw its major goals as threefold: to create a year-round community for attendees, buyers, brands, media, and other so-called influencers; to keep the focus on innovation and remain of central importance to the fashion community; and to add value to the brands that participate in the show by offering additional exposure to both businesses and consumers.
To that end, attendees on the show floor this week are finding a wide array of interactive elements. Magic has tapped more than 50 official bloggers to curate content throughout the show, including Laura Kudia from Elle.com, Kelly Framel of TheGlamourai.com, Renee Ogaki and Rebecca Lay of Styluste.com, Brittany Law from StyleRepublicMagazine.com, and writers for DesignerSocial.com.
Magic selected the bloggers based on the quality of their content, unique points of view, and their understanding of the business of fashion.
“We also look for personalities that are established among certain audiences that are relevant to Magic exhibitors and retailers, to ensure relevance,” DeMoulin said. “Content created by bloggers on site enhances the experience for attendees by allowing them to visually explore areas of the show they may not have been able to get to on foot, as well as providing them a platform for sharing thoughts and feedback about what they saw. Because of the network of followers each of the bloggers has built on their own, their coverage of Magic also helps to expose the brands who showcase here to additional audiences not in attendance, providing brands, retailers, consumers, and other influencers a common space to share ideas and reactions to the brands.”
Attendees can also slip into a mobile photo booth powered by the Pose iPhone application and curated by both attendees and the show’s official bloggers. Photos from the show will appear in real time on the show’s Facebook application, as well as Tumblr.
A microsite powered by Bumebox.com was specifically designed to increase attendee, buyer, and exhibitor interactions and experiences through social media during the show. The site went live ahead of the show on Friday at magic.bumebox.com.
Of course, a high-tech show demands that technology needs are carefully planned, from iPad stations and mobile apps to interactive social media screens and “Map Your Show” stations. “Magic has designed the social technologies it uses to create a seamless experience and complement one another to enhance on-site experience while simultaneously extending that experience into the digital space,” DeMoulin said.
Another interactive (though decidedly low-tech) element was a setup from BurdaStyle.com, an online D.I.Y. community with 550,000 registered users. The team hosted daily D.I.Y. events for attendees, including a Monday leather-cord jewelry-making station that drew a crowd of attendees leaning over the work space and chatting about the show.
And then of course there are the basics at play: Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and all the rest. Everywhere you looked on the show floor revealed an attendee resting in a lounge or leaning against a highboy, hydrating against the 110-degree heat of the desert, and peering into an iPhone app to mention the event using hashtags like #MagicLV. Organizers and brands encouraged such social media interaction by offering prizes and giveaways.
Overall, the approach has worked well, with demonstrated results, according to DeMoulin. “The show is up in all areas,” he said. “For August 2011, we’ve seen a 200 percent increase over February show exhibitor and attendee engagement with social technologies. In the first day alone, we had 3,500 tweets from exhibitors, retailers, bloggers, and attendees. Our social, digital, and mobile strategies enhance the on-site Magic experience and allow us to reach hundreds of thousands of fashion fans. Enthusiasm at the show is very, very high.”