Social Media For Luxury Brands: Untapped Potential

It seems that luxury brands have been less willing to jump into the social media landscape. If that’s you, you’re missing out. Luxury brand customers are active in social media, and that is where you need to be. Here is where you shape how the world sees your brand. Through social networks, upscale providers can connect with clients on an emotional level, differentiate their brand, and build a loyal following.

The Affluent on Social Media

The affluent and well educated have become a dominant force in the social media landscape. Consumers are responding to traditional advertising less and less. According to the Pew Research Center, more than half of households with higher incomes and greater education levels are active on platforms like Facebook, Linkedin, and other social media. The Blackstone Digital Agency puts that number at closer to 75%. Through social media, luxury brands can tap into an unlimited source of clients who can pay top dollar for your product or service, and are mostly immune to a turbulent economy.

The gender gap has closed, too. At one time far more women than men were active in social media, but that is no longer the case. A recent Pew study found that 76% of women and 72% of men were active in at least one platform. Whereas women were once seen as decision “influencers,” that has changed. 25% of married women now out-earn their husbands. Women are becoming financial decision makers and power brokers. Women are a powerful force in the upscale market, and they’re willing to pay more for quality.

Shape perception, build loyalty

Social media provides a platform for setting your brand apart and building deep loyalty with an audience. Some luxury brands have been slow to get involved with social media, for fear that they’d be seen as “just like everyone else.” In an interview with Refinery 29, James Lovejoy, a content researcher at Brandwatch, stated that this might have to do with the culture of luxury brands. With a focus on heritage, quality and a certain level of exclusivity, many brands may have felt that adopting social media programs would liken them too much to mainstream brands. As it turns out, just the opposite is true.

Through posts, blogs, and regular contact, people make an emotional connection with your brand. Although most people understand why BMW or a stay at the Ritz Carlton are a cut above, there are some markets where this is less obvious. Why do we see people pay more for an Apple product or a High Bar shirt when there are less expensive options available? Luxury consumers place a premium on convenience, personal experience, and connection. Through contact with you, they will discover why your quality product or service is exceptional. The reward is an audience that will remain loyal to your brand for years.

That loyalty will build your brand’s reputation online. In a study by Invesp, 78% of people said a company’s social media posts impact their purchases. This affects not only their target customers but also the wider online audience. People are usually more willing to buy something unfamiliar if it is recommended by someone they know, or from a company to which they feel connected. If your luxury brand isn’t active on social media, you may be losing revenue.

Exclusive brands in an inclusive world

While luxury brands usually appeal to an affluent few, social media bridges the gap between the elite and the average income earners. Most luxury brands have two different customers: aspirational and actual. The “actual” customers are usually wealthy individuals who are active users of your product or service. They have the means, they recognize quality, and they are actively engaged.

Your aspirational customers are your actual customers of tomorrow. Fashion’s Collective describes aspirational customers as those “who covet and desire the merchandise and have high brand affinity.” In other words, they hope that someday they’ll be a part of the exclusive group. Since the luxury brand market threshold is lower than it used to be (96% of people making just $50,000 are willing to spend more on at least one luxury brand item) many of these individuals will make smaller purchases. They’ll also enhance your brand’s reputation and expand your exposure to their social network.

Most of your customers will come from the elite group, and those customers will engage with your brand on social media when a client service issue arises. At the same time, your online presence will serve to expand your audience, making your exclusive brand available to a broader customer base.

Think strategically

The social media marketplace is evolving quickly, but the trends are clear: Companies need to establish a strong presence. Each social media platform has its strength and weaknesses and depending on your product or service, different platforms might work better for your brand than others. Reputation is key to your luxury brand, and as we know, social media is one of the best vehicles for establishing a great one. Below are some things to consider to improve your company’s social media presence:

1. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
From the start, think about quality over quantity. Social sites are inundated with information, and you don’t want your message lost in the white noise. As an example, people send over 7000 tweets and 738 Instagram photos per second. That’s an enormous quantity of information for your audience to sort through. Focus on producing quality and consistent content that build an image that users will want to follow and see more of.

2. TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Do some research on what times are most impactful for your social media sites. For example, according to Hootsuite, the best time to post on Facebook is between 1 pm and 3 pm whereas the best time to post on Instagram is between 6 am and 12 pm. Posting quality content at strategic times can help to ensure your audience is seeing your content whenever they’re most active.

3. CONTENT STRATEGY CALENDAR
Build a communications schedule the same way you make time for prospecting, management, and everything else you have to do to grow your business. Applications like Hootsuite and Buffer can help get your posts out across multiple platforms, allowing you to focus on creating new content instead of working through the technology. You don’t have to post every hour or even every day. But regular, quality, useful posts will build a following that will make a real difference in your business.

4. BLOGGING – TWICE THE REWARD
This topic is worth an entry of its own, but it is important to realize that your blog is your best friend when building a presence on social media. Blog entries transfer beautifully to social media, provided you set them up correctly. Work with your agency to be sure the proper meta-tagging is in the post, so the title, description, and images engage your audience when they see it on your timeline. A well-executed blog post on Facebook or LinkedIn will reward you with a measurable boost in website traffic. Ideally, this will lead to greater customer engagement and brand awareness.

The idea behind a good blog post is to provide useful content, period. As tempting as it might be, your blog is NOT a place to sell your product or service. Few people, especially the affluent, regularly subscribe to hard sales pitches. When people find your blog content useful, they will share it. When it is shared, your audience will increase. Once they visit your site and see the quality of your product or service, your business will grow. This is one aspect of content marketing.

The benefit outweighs the risk

The more people experience great customer service and amazing products, the faster your reputation will grow. The Social Media landscape might feel scary at first because it is so unpredictable. It is true that you can’t control feedback in social media the way you can on your blog or in your showroom. But today’s CEOs and power brokers have twitter accounts with tens of thousands of followers because they understand the importance of building a brand following. Your most exclusive customers are now active in the social media landscape. With the right team and a strategic social media in place, your business can only grow.

By: Frank DePino

Frank DePino is Principal and founder of Mediaboom. Since 2002, Frank has lead Mediaboom’s award-winning staff of creative and technical professionals building the most effective marketing and advertising solutions for its clients.