Burberry's Christmas 2015 campaign on YouTube has been viewed 12.3m times

Less is more: the social media strategy of luxury brands

Christmas is coming – and luxury brands’ coffers are getting fat. We’re feeling festive so we’re happy to wallow in nostalgia and fantasy. And what’s wrong with that?

Luxury brands do their marketing very differently from everyone else. Whereas for most, social media is a matter of engagement, luxury brands have a different type of relationship with their audience: it’s all about aspiration.

So while an inexpensive fashion brand like (say) George at Asda might be super-chatty and responsive to its audience, Burberry will remain aloof, letting fans and followers do the talking. This is the “velvet rope” approach – discussed in detail in a panel I blogged at London Social Media Week.

This strategy of exclusivity is well-illustrated in a recent report from Brandwatch: Social Insights on the Luxury Fashion Industry. The report analysed more than 200,000 Twitter conversations around luxury fashion brands and found 99.63% of mentions (tweets, replies and retweets) came from consumers, with posts from luxury brands’ Twitter accounts making up just 0.37% of the conversation.

The social buzz around luxury fashion brands is dominated by celebrity endorsement, with pop stars proving the most influential. In the Brandwatch analysis, Justin Bieber was mentioned in relation to Calvin Klein over 87,000 times while Ariana Grande drove mentions of Coach and Miley Cyrus ruled conversations around Prada and Versace.

In terms of social visibility (volume of conversation), sentiment, growth and engagement, Chanel came top, followed by Dior, Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren. Burberry – generally praised for its social strategy – came a surprising seventh, while Kenzo and DKNY bumped along the bottom of the table for the 32 brands surveyed.

Overall, the report found luxury fashion brands to be “surprisingly inactive on social media”. On average, these brands tweet 1.57 times a day (for comparison, leading brands in Food & Beverage tweet a whopping 26.32 times). And luxury fashion brands rarely respond directly to their audience (averaging less than half a comment per day).

But isn’t this all just about being the super cool kid at the party – the one that everyone else defers to just because they’re never quite sure what you’re thinking? Certainly, luxury fashion brands have a strategy of looking good above all else: visual content is exceptionally important to this sector with 85.47% of Facebook posts containing photos and another 11.53% featuring video. The age-old formula of high production values and beautiful people is holding tight.

The Brandwatch report concluded that luxury fashion brands were waking up to the potential of social media engagement “as the influence of online conversations becomes increasingly evident”.

I’m not so sure. I think luxury fashion brands will continue to sit comfortably this Christmas (and beyond), with their manicured fingers firmly on the “broadcast” button.

Photo: YouTube screenshot from Burberry’s Christmas 2015 campaign (12.3m views to date)

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