Martha Stewart applauds Twitter’s business applications

Martha Stewart, head of media company Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, praised the role social media has played in building her business during an on-stage interview at the annual Digital Marketing Days Conference & Expo in New York June 14.

The event was co-located with the Twtrcon conference, so much of the conversation between Stewart and The New York Times’ David Pogue was about Twitter, where the media maven has nearly 2 million followers. Stewart’s empire includes magazines, a TV show, radio program, numerous licensed mass merchandise from cooking tools to pet products, a website and books – most of which carry her name.

Stewart said she uses Twitter “as a communications tool,” along with her blog where she posts 20 to 70 photos a day, and Facebook. She asserted that she writes all her own Tweets to maintain “authenticity.” Pogue called her a “crowd-sourcing aficionado,” and Stewart agreed, saying she uses various online channels for instantaneous surveys with her fans.

“I try to have a dialogue,” she said.

While some companies tread lightly on the social web for fear of making a mistake that could result in backlash, Stewart took the opposite approach. “It helps to try and use these new tools,” she said. “Try and see if it does work [for your business].”

Stewart noted that her Twitter followers might not yet be subscribers of her magazine and vice versa, so she found real business use from the channels, as well. “You want to be where your customers are,” she said, adding the company is working on incorporating Foursquare into its plans next.

MSLO’s 2009 revenues were $244.8 million, down about 14% from the prior year. Stewart acknowledged during the mostly lighthearted banter with Pogue that “business is challenging” during the downturn.

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