Social media: what is at stake for luxury brands?
In the luxury industry, social media are a paradox. On one hand, they allow brands to establish their presence with an increasingly connected consumer base; on the other, the Web 2.0 platforms expose advertisers to events and risks that are beyond their control. With these double-edged communication channels, what is at stake for luxury brands?
1. Keep the dream alive
Luxury is, above all, about dreams – dreams that should be kept alive. Social media are communication channels that are integrated into consumers’ everyday lives, enabling luxury brands to tell their stories. They let brands inspire consumers through small, successive actions, as Louis Vuitton does on its Facebook page, which combines beauty, wealth, and fame.
2. Stand out
Social media are also a way for luxury brands to assert their individuality and to capitalize on their DNA. With the ART OF THE TRENCH Tumblr, Burberry set the scene for the product for which the iconic luxury brand is best known – a powerful and telling move!
3. Open up…
…in just the right way, inviting visitors to see what the brand is like behind the scenes. This approach brings the brand closer to its consumers while still preserving a certain exclusivity. During the Spring-Summer 2015 Paris Fashion Week, Shu Uemura invited its Instagram followers backstage to meet the models at shows in which the brand participated.
Much more than simply following trends, luxury brands are by their very nature creating — and defying — them. Social media are an opportunity to boost these trends, “dictate the codes,” and to shape fashion. Being a specialist in the online luxury market, Net-A-Porter proposes complete looks directly on its Facebook page.
5. Generate buzz
Luxury brands do not talk about themselves; they make others talk about them. What better way of becoming a subject of conversation than by generating buzz? Social media platforms are by essence viral; they amplify word-of-mouth. With its Drift Mob operation, German automaker BMW has taken advantage of this Web 2.0 feature. Through a “viral” video about its M235i car, the brand invites users to share their own “BMW stories” with the hashtag #BMWstories.
6. Listen to conversations
Harnessing social media does not just mean taking part in conversations. First and foremost, brands can (and should) listen to what is said on the web. The latest news. Sensitive topics. Current opinion-makers. In short, anything that enables brands to make their communication a part of the zeitgeist — and remain in the forefront. An example is the partnership between Diesel and Garance Doré.
7. Control the image
Whether a brand has a social media presence or not, conversations will be held about it online. It is better to be there and, therefore, be able to guide and moderate these conversations when necessary. This approach pays off in times of crisis as during the Dior’s John Galliano case. (See the complete analysis of the case made by our colleagues at Tulipe Media.)
8. Protect from counterfeits
Social media can help brands in their fight against counterfeits in two ways. On one hand, they can teach consumers to distinguish genuine products from counterfeits. On the other, they can use social media intelligence tools to identify, in real time, any mention of their name and thus limit the spread of fraudulent products, as explained by our colleagues at TalkWalker.
Social media are also an innovation breeding ground for luxury brands. Between technological advances and changing uses, new opportunities for campaigns and creative applications appear every day. At its Swarovski Look website, the crystal expert offers a Social Wish List. The idea? Give users the ability to save and share – on social media – products that they like in order to help their friends and family with gift ideas.
Finally, social media can be an opportunity for luxury brands to generate sales. This year, Vogue, for example, made its Instagram pictures “shoppable.” With the LIKEtoKNOW.it application, the magazine’s Instagram followers only had to like a photo (whose legend contained the keyword LTK) to receive by email a link that allowed them to purchase the depicted products.
Today, there is no more doubt that luxury brands should be on social media. The issue, instead, is that brands should be constantly looking for new ways to protect their image, to distinguish themselves from “mainstream” brands, and to innovate in order to remain at the forefront.