These days, most luxury brands have an Instagram, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, maybe even a Pinterest. Social media presence is unavoidable when today’s global consumer is ‘always on’ and looking for inspiration across multiple platforms during their motive development stage of the customer journey. But when looking a little closer, it got me wondering: how much of this luxury brand social media activity is done because they can genuinely engage with their customers, and how many have them because it’s “the norm” today?
I’m also pretty sure that not many could tell you what value they drive or what their customers get in return for their attention. For some, the fear of being left behind overshadows the value that they should be delivering their customers through social media.
Like seriously, STOP! If this is the case for your brand, then you’re doing it wrong.
Poor social media etiquette can be seriously devaluing to a brand, and as the consumer ‘bullshit detector’ goes into overdrive these days, your prospective customers can smell an insincere social media presence from a mile off. Let’s face it, luxury brands have the added responsibility for creating an ‘experience’ for those who engage and buy into them, and activity that goes against this does not make for a very effective social media strategy.
Put it this way – poor social media activity can make even the most seasoned online shopaholic (guilty!) scramble for the Unfollow button.
Seriously though, where is all the useful content at? (If useful content is an area you want to tackle, you should check out our useful content checklist)
But it doesn’t have to be this way – especially not for luxury brands today. There’s an arsenal of platforms and imagery at their disposal, they’ve just got to translate the brand ethos onto their feed.
The best and worst of luxury brand social media…
I couldn’t talk about luxury brands that are on the money with social media and not mention Rebecca Minkoff.
The brand was founded back in 2005 and they definitely value their customer’s experience. Each of their social media platforms has a distinct purpose of creating a niche experience for every medium. The brand has gone from strength to strength and this is because they have respected their following and given due consideration to what social media can bring to their brand.
‘I think [social media] is one of the major reasons why we’re still here today. Early on, my brother and I had interventions where people told us: “Don’t deal with a blogger. They’re dirty. You’re going to hurt your brand.” We had serious sit-downs with major retailers who threatened their business with us if we worked with “dirty bloggers.” [They also said] “Don’t talk to your customer directly. That’s a terrible idea.” We just disagreed.’ – Rebecca Minkoff
P.S. The rest of the interview is a pretty interesting read too!
The brand’s Pinterest feed is well organised into easy to navigate themed boards, all loaded up with links through to their website, to make the purchase journey from lust at first sight, right through to purchased as seamless as possible.
Rebecca Minkoff also uses Twitter to directly converse with customers, thus making their feed useful and reliable.
What’s even better is they don’t just see it as an excuse to interrupt people’s day with pointless marketing. They answer questions, share inspiration and above all, engage both customers and aspirational buyers alike.
Their social platforms are essentially an extension of their website, and because this is the case, it provides their customers with added value – this is exactly how it should be.
Social media should add to the brand and never just exist purely for the sake of existing. If you create content for content’s sake you are wasting everyone’s time with crap that people don’t care about seeing. And what’s the point in that?
Sadly, not all luxury brands utilise and value social media the way they should, especially some of the big dogs in the industry.
Perhaps this is because they don’t rely on social media the way the newer brands do and they take for granted that they are well known and well respected, but this most definitely shouldn’t mean that they have the right to provide zero useful content. They aren’t protected, they still have that big unfollow button on their profiles and customers are not afraid to use it.
I’m sorry (not sorry), but Chanel are major offenders of this. Their Twitter feed is so repetitive that it’s painful to navigate. There is nothing useful or engaging about the content they are frequently posting, and it doesn’t deserve attention. This is a case of style over substance, for sure.
Established brands could be accused of relying on their reputation to carry their social media, take Chanel for example, with a massive 13.7M following. The ‘value’ that they think is acceptable to be sharing is the same campaign videos over and over again! Only 0.01% of their following agree by the looks of their engagement on the ‘likes’ front.
Luxury brands need to be listening to their customers, even brands like Chanel. Fail to do so and be prepared to be perceived as unrelatable.
Another luxury brand that showed exactly how little they value their social media and their following is Saint Laurent.
Back in April, the luxury brand caused quite a stir on their Instagram account. Bearing in mind that they only made their debut on Instagram back in January, they made a risky and immature move. After an exit from their Creative Director, Hedi Slimane, they completely wiped their Instagram library and posted one single photo of his successor Anthony Vaccarello.
And it didn’t go unnoticed by their followers. Multiple comments on the post expressed disappointment in the brand’s behaviour and publications highlighted that the brand has behaved like a teenager on social media after a bad breakup.
Instead of providing their very fresh Instagram following with value, the brand decided saving face was more important. Major faux pas. They could have toasted to a new era for Saint Laurent, but they chose to use Instagram to publicly air their dirty laundry. Hardly aspirational and as far as I can see, quite defamatory for the brand.
In a world where everyone is becoming increasingly digital savvy, these kind of rash decisions are no longer the type of things that are going to fly under the radar unnoticed, especially from big luxury brands like Saint Laurent.
But it’s not all doom and gloom!
Not every social platform is going to be suited and beneficial to every brand, and the brands that understand this are one step ahead. Here’s an example of some really positive luxury brand social media activity to help illustrate our point (and our frustration at the others!):
Take Snapchat, brands that have something engaging and (obviously) visual are are going to get the most from the platform. The beauty industry should be sitting up and paying attention to platforms that allow them to get visual exposure for their products.
Luxury beauty heavyweight brand Charlotte Tilbury can be found on Snapchat, showing behind-the-scenes exclusives and personal snaps from Charlotte herself. This brings personality and a realness to the brand and to be honest it reminds us, the customers, that there is a passion behind the selling of their cosmetics.
One of the big reasons that customers follow social media accounts of luxury brands is they want to see what is really behind the products, what’s worth their attention and ultimately, their money. Charlotte Tilbury ticks this box, hands down. Consumers will invest in a brand whose values and aspirations match their own. If a brand can succeed in translating this on their feed, it can actually transcend the product. Social media is a community, after all.
However, the bottom line is…
It’s time for luxury brands to step up their social media game.
Like all good marketing, luxury brand social media success essentially boils down to understanding the customer and providing them with what they are seeking. Take the time to learn what makes them tick, where they hang out online, who they follow, then consider what platforms truly suit your brand. Producing content that appeals to customers through accessible mediums is the first step, the next is testing, listening and refining.
Social media isn’t just a little compartment of marketing anymore, for some, it’s the driving factor of all activity. Underestimate it at your peril!
Seen some garbage or great examples of luxury brand social media activity? I’d love to hear and see your examples. Say no to #PointlessMarketing and share them with me on Twitter: @silverbean.