How-Tu Tuesday: How Luxury Brands Can Best Use Social Media
There was a time when the luxury industry had no interest in being present on social media and looked upon it as a threat to their exclusive status and a harmful tool that would cheapen their brand. This initial reaction to social networks isn’t surprising, as the luxury industry is built on having an alluring and mysterious image that is in sight, but out of reach, of the regular consumer. Brands believed success came from distancing themselves from the consumer, creating an air of cool inimitability, but how could they maintain this whilst representing themselves across free-to-everyone social media platforms?
In 2016, the luxury industry now realises that they couldn’t be more wrong. Luxury brands have flipped their marketing strategies and now want to reach the widest audience possible, even those who are not paying customers. They see embracing diversity, giving individuals a voice and interacting with their customer base as a positive thing that will drive their digital integrity and social awareness; two things which are now very important in today’s retail landscape.
Furthermore, luxury brands did not come to this conclusion themselves; the decision to change direction and embrace social media came from the figures. The Shullman Research Center found that 98% of affluent consumers (with an income of over $250,000) who purchase luxury goods, use digital platforms to communicate with brands, 71% of which specifically use social media.
The tips below apply to any company working in the luxury goods and services industry; everything from whisky to cashmere to spa retreats …
Get To Know Your Customer
Being present on social media not only amplifies your message, but it also provides brands with valuable information about their customer base and can be used as a virtual focus group. If you are launching a new luxury product or service, analysing social media conversations should be at the top of your marketing to-do list as it provides trackable, measurable and actionable data.
By tracking different topics of conversations, you can better understand specific segments of your audience including their likes and dislikes, interests and professions and the reasons behind why they use your brand, thus improving your targeting.
A brand’s reputation is critical to their success. This applies even more so to luxury brands, and the way they are perceived is often the very reason that consumers become customers. However, very few brands have a blemish-free track record and certain things may happen that should be addressed publicly; ignoring the speculation won’t make the problem go away.
Brand image should be managed using both online and offline channels; basically any touch point with the consumer. However, social media proves to be one of the most effective ways of dealing with any negativity or issues that need to be resolved quickly, due to the reach and instant feedback that can be gained.
Maintaining multiple social accounts can be a very effective, but often time-consuming marketing task that should be done daily. An effective way to elevate these efforts is to utilise the influencers in your industry, and the luxury industry, in particular, has no shortage of those.
Brands should identify the leaders in their particular field and work with them closely on spreading the brand’s core values. This relationship should be organic and not forced in any way as consumers will quickly identify an insincere post. The influencers you reach out to or try and catch the attention of should either be an existing customer or someone’s whose own persona matches the product/service perfectly; otherwise, your brand will become diluted, ultimately harming the overall image.
You Can STILL Be Exclusive
And finally… Exclusivity: a luxury brand’s most valuable asset. Losing this air of mystery is the main concern for brands when it comes to maintaining a social presence and the reason it took the luxury market so long to have a presence in the digital world.
However, brands have no need to worry, because for once it really is possible to have the best of both worlds. Luxury brands should use their social channels to be accessible to their target market, but remain reserved, unique and still maintain a level of mystery, leaving the consumer longing for more. This approach also improves the accessibility of these brands, without giving everything away. The target segment who see luxury as aspirational, but not necessarily realistic or attainable, should be able to have a degree of access to the brand story, but left wanting to know more. Not only does this keep the consumer a fan of the brand, but allows only the paying customer to experience the full brand experience. Always remember to focus on the positioning of the product/service offering and select the approach to social media that best represents the brand DNA.