Luxury brands and social media: a paradox

Originality, grandeur, and good taste are the basic elements of a luxury brand, but it is also very selective and exclusive when it comes to controlling its image and identity, as well as its customers. Social media, on the other hand, is a melting pot where there is more mass and less exclusivity. So, what are Chanel, Tesla, and Burberry doing in social media?

The presence of luxury brands in the likes of Facebook, YouTube, or Snapchat no longer raises eyebrows. In a world where literally everybody is on their phones all day, it is only inevitable for these brands to embrace digital and social media marketing. Yet, 73% of the luxury industry still finds it challenging to find the balance between making a mass market appeal on social media while keeping a sense of exclusivity.

So what are luxury brands doing right in social media thus far to help the rest of the fashion industry to keep up? Social media influencers, storytelling, and well-curated Instagram feed, as a start.

Influencer marketing

When it comes to influencer marketing, consumers are looking for more engagement instead of a one-way inspiration coming from celebrity endorsements. This is why luxury brands are more inclined to collaborate with mid-tier or micro-influencers, who actively engage with their followers. In return, consumers actually trust their judgment on brands and products.

That said, luxury brands are careful in maintaining a sense of integrity and credibility when it comes to choosing which influencers to collaborate with. As Sara Gergovich of Hermés would put it, they won’t buy friendship or pay influencers to promote their products.

Yet, it would appear that not all luxury brands care as much as Hermés does in terms of credibility. In fact, influencer marketing has become such a lucrative business to the extent that these pseudo-stars can actually demand up to $300,000 for a single post to promote a brand.

Inspired storytelling

While social media influencers are giving celebrities a run for their money, content marketing still plays a significant role in encapsulating a brand’s heritage and sharing the same to the masses. Chanel, for one, was named the most popular luxury brand on social media in 2016 for its ability to inspire customers with its compelling stories. As of date, it maintains a microsite of several short stories of how it came to be one of the most recognized luxury brands in history and an Instagram account with over 21 million followers.

Another luxury brand that is known to produce quality video content as a key social media strategy is Tesla. The Qantas Vs. Tesla ad, as an example, generated thousands of likes and retweets without having to go beyond its signature reserved and exclusive positioning.

Consumer engagement

Indeed, the relationship between luxury brands and social media is paradoxical. How does a high-end brand remain true to itself (selective and exclusive) while trying to reach out to an entirely new generation of consumers? The decision to go social is highly contradictory yet quite essential to raise brand awareness, improve customer service, and generate sales.

As a result, more and more luxury brands have begun learning to compromise and establish their brands online where they can engage with their consumers and learn from the same. Burberry, which has over 17 million followers on Facebook, has one of those community platforms that allow consumers to provide feedback on its store layouts and garment designs.

The British luxury fashion also has an active presence in Snapchat and WeChat where it livestreams shows, drive loyalty programs, and even offer limited edition products. Burberry was, in fact, the first luxury brand to collaborate with Pinterest where it promoted its cat lashes mascara.

Yes, gone are the days that luxury brands are inaccessible to an average consumer. Thanks to social media, traditional barriers are crumbling down, thinning the line between just about anything.