The Carrot Blog

On May 31st, Digital Dumbo held their first official conference, dd:IMPACT, in the heart of DUMBO. The event took a broad view of the current state of affairs in the digital world from food and fashion to music and design. Coming from a background of planning the SOCAP conference for four years, I was impressed with the caliber of speakers they brought onboard from current digital cool kids Etsy and foursquare to emerging start-ups like Wander and brick-and-mortar shops such as Brooklyn Industries trying to break into the digital game.

The day kicked off with "Food & Eating in the Age of Technology." In the same vein of blogs and personal sites creating a new army of self-appointed experts in the online world, the discussion centered on the tools (from Instagram and Foodspotting to Evernote) that have given rise to the inner foodie in us all. Following next was "The New Fashion Forward" panel. What was most interesting to me about this panel was the discussion on the need to root your brand in trend spotting around a lifestyle and aesthetic in order to buoy the sales driven content. Essentially all companies should be viewed as brand journalists, with the majority of online content released focusing on editorial and lifestyle to draw in consumers. As evidence of this, Mollie Chen of Birchbox noted that their most popular Pinterest content is their food/recipes board, not their cosmetics board.

After a brief coffee break, we jumped into "Design for Fun + Profit." This panel reiterated what the residing sentiment in the digital industry has been sounding for a while: Design is everything. Gone are the days when a good product will still rise without the aesthetic to draw in a user. Allan Yu of Svpply reinforced this with a personal mantra "Eat your own dog food!" – Always create a design, product and campaign that you want to wear, read or share. Finally "Breaking Beats" closed out the event with an interesting look at the digital music arena. The panelists were in universal agreement that music discovery was due to follow the trend of smaller, more curated networks and offerings amid beasts of the web (think Path v. Facebook) and will circle back to appreciation portals like This is My Jam. Similar to the call for curation and a more rounded offering in the Fashion industry, labels like Cantora Records are branching out to fund lifestyle start-ups as part of their portfolio offering.

The overarching theme that seemed to resonate among all the panelists was a need to bring a sense of personal connection to the online sphere. The new app for couples called " Pair" received a shout out from Jeremy Fisher, CEO of Wander, for tapping into the intimacy of communication in a world where tweets are for everyone to see. Jen Rubio, Head of Social Media at Warby Parker, detailed their social media strategy which engages customers to post and tweet pictures of themselves for feedback on their new Warby glasses thereby replicating the experience of trying on glasses in a store while increasing brand awareness. Rubio also talked about extending that personalized brand experience through a focus on 100% engagement with customers online: If someone is talking about Warby on the Internet, they want to be in on the game. Overall, I came away feeling like I had been privy to the same kind of conversations these panelists would have had with each other discussing the industry over a beer. Looking forward to the next round.

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