Digital lessons from Martha Stewart

The domestic diva’s marketing expertise has proven itself in every medium she’s ventured into.


Martha Stewart’s influence is everywhere in her fans’ lives—including the kitchen, garden, and living room, as well as wedding day details. But her keynote conversation at BlogHer ’12 with BlogHer co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Elisa Camahort Page was about more than her skills around the house.

Stewart has successfully communicated her vision through radio, television, and magazines—and, lately, through websites, mobile applications, and blogs. Her tweets receive thousands of responses, though she limits herself to five minutes on Twitter per day. As BlogHer looks to create opportunities for women in digital media, Stewart’s facility in connecting with audiences across media platforms made for an inspiring conversation.

Here are a few lessons from Stewart on social media (and life), as interpreted by this blogger.

1. Study, then use, emerging technology. “I’m proud of my involvement in technology,” Stewart said, noting that she was an early adopter. Camahort Page recalled Stewart’s technology-focused episodes that aired long before people thought to directly link women to technology.

2. Twitter is where it’s at. “I love Twitter. From the minute I heard about it, it made sense to me,” Stewart said, noting that many BlogHer attendees most likely were tweeting at that moment. “I use it for research, to do instant surveys, things I’m curious about what people know. I really love knowing what’s happening out there.”

She also can know what’s happening—when Camahort Paged asked how many tweets she gets in response, Stewart said, “Thousands. Statistically it’s not fabulous, but the instant feedback is. We get lots of great answers.”

What’s interesting is not only Stewart’s popularity but also what drives her to tweet: It’s genuine curiosity that manifests itself in the way she drives her business and her life.

3. Let the personal out to let your community in. Camahort Page asked Stewart how social media have affected how or what she shares. “There’s no limit to what you can share,” Stewart said, noting that sharers still need to know where to draw the line. “If you make a political comment, you can lose half your audience, so you can’t be political, but you can be personal.”

Camahort Page said Stewart has created “a brand that is all about quality and perfection, and what you are able to show through social media and your show are the foibles that happen.” One famous example they discussed is a hospital trip that included stitches to Stewart’s lip. The incident wound up on Twitter and lives in Twitter lore.

“The most page views I’ve gotten are the personal ones,” Stewart said. “It’s nice to see people care and they respond.”

4. Heighten successful concepts with technology. Camahort Page said Stewart’s company is one of the first to take print magazines to the Apple iPad. “We are trying to save you time and be innovative at the same time,” Stewart said. “There are things you can do on digital that you can’t do on the printed page.” This includes pairing moving visual content with its own soundtrack, fonts, and images playing to the music to create a fun experience.

With millions of people using the iPad, Stewart made a priority to present them with digital-specific content. All three of the Martha Stewart magazines are digitized, giving Stewart and her team a creative outlet. “All of our editors are really into it and making covers come alive,” she said.

5. Follow your own footsteps. Stewart has transitioned her vision and aesthetic from television and radio to the Web and social media. So, it follows that her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, was founded in 1997, before much of a concept existed for “omnimedia.”

“We are a pioneer in the area,” Stewart said. She had a vision that existed in ’97 and certainly continues through to the present. “Every day, you learn something new.”

To that point, it is the creation of concepts, the transference of ideas—whether it is the creation of a piece of merchandise or the perfect way to cook salmon—that Stewart champions. “Media leads, merchandise follows,” she said. “We are proud of what we create.”

A version of this post first appeared on SmartBlog on Social Media.

(Image via)

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