How Luxury Fashion Brands Are Breaking the Rules of Social Media Marketing

Social media offers huge potential for marketers. Many agencies exist solely to run brands’ social media marketing strategies, and many companies have in-house departments dedicated to building their social presence.

Over the years, a specific set of “rules” seem to have developed – a list of do’s and don’ts defined for running a business’ social media account.

But what are rules there for, if not to be broken? Elle Pollicott, at digital marketing agency Hallam Internet looks at how luxury fashion brands are breaking the rules, with much success.

 Search “social media marketing” on Google, and you’ll likely come across these three “fail-safe” rules to follow:

  1. Post Frequently

You don’t want to post so often that your followers find you annoying, and unfollow you; yet you need to post often enough that you regularly appear in newsfeeds.

Socialbakers conducted some research, and found that the brands that performed “best” on social media posted 5-10 times a week, and tweeted three times a day.

If you’re concerned that Instagram’s latest algorithm is penalising accounts that post frequently, then worry no more – that myth was busted by Eva Chen, Instagram’s Head of Fashion Partnerships.

  1. Engage Followers

Social media isn’t just about putting content out there: it’s about engaging too. Has someone commented on your Facebook post asking how long the wait list is for your limited-edition bag? According to this rule, you should answer them.

Similarly, if someone has tagged you in an Instagram post, wearing your brand head to toe, the least you can do is give them a like.

Search Engine Watch discovered that 70% of Twitter users expect a brand to reply to their message, and 53% want that reply within an hour.

  1. Embrace New Platforms

Whilst Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the social media giants, there are many other channels out there. YouTube, Snapchat and Pinterest are all well-known, but what about Thumb, WeChat and Buzznet? It can be tempting to set up a business profile on all sites.

But isn’t it more fun to break the rules?

Yes! And the luxury fashion industry knows it.

You would think luxury fashion and social media go hand in hand: social media marketing exists to inject personality into a brand. Luxury fashion is built on personality and perception. If you want to project glamour, then you’re going to wear Versace. Grungy? Saint Laurent. Chic and sophisticated? Then of course, it’s got to be Chanel.

However, luxury fashion brands are seeing great results by ignoring the traditional rules. And followers just can’t get enough.

Rulebreaker #1: Post Frequently

To see how these rules were being broken, I took a closer look at how the top luxury fashion brands were utilising their social media accounts. It turns out, they’re posting much less than what Socialbakers recommended.

Fashion Week in September slightly skewed the results, which is why stats have been recorded for both months. However, luxury fashion brands are posting much less than the recommended amount, and yet they still have hundreds of thousands of followers, and daily conversations surrounding them. Just look at Balenciaga – 700,000 followers, yet they only tweeted twice in October.

Why is this working so well for them? Compare the likes of Balenciaga and Saint Laurent to online giants ASOS and Missguided. The latter are performing amazingly well on social media, following the traditional set of rules. This though, is down to their customer base. ASOS, Missguided and other high street brands are accessible to all, so in order to increase their following and connect with customers, they need to be available.

In contrast, luxury fashion is exclusive; and that’s why an active social media presence doesn’t work for them. Daily updates on social media would allow anyone an insight into their world, making them accessible and mainstream – and that’s the death of a luxury fashion brand.

Rulebreaker #2: Engage Followers

If any of the 70% of those surveyed tweeted a luxury fashion brand, they’ll be bitterly disappointed, because they’re not going to get a reply.

Luxury fashion brands have ignored this rule altogether, and are remaining silent. These 10 brands already enjoy a combined following of over 37.8 million, with conversations constantly happening about them. It’s not like Saint Laurent, Balenciaga or Chanel need to join in with those conversations to increase their number of followers.

Nothing says aloof and exclusive like staying silent; which is why it works so well for luxury fashion brands.

Rulebreaker #3: Embrace New Platforms

When working in social media marketing, it can be easy to get overexcited about new channels, signing your brand up without having a strategy in place.

However, it’s a total waste of time if your audience isn’t on there. Luxury fashion brands know this, favouring the utilisation of a couple (if any) social media channels, as opposed to spreading themselves thinly across everything.

Let’s talk about Céline: probably the chicest, most sophisticated brand of them all. Their understated, classic, quality designs aren’t known by everyone – unlike Gucci and Dior – but they don’t want to be. And that’s why it makes sense for them to have a small social media presence; active only on Instagram and WeChat, China’s answer to WhatsApp.

After all, the Céline woman isn’t about to post a picture of herself head to toe in the brand, showing off about the fact she just bought another Luggage Tote (this time, in black). So, why would Céline be overly self-promotional on social media?

They don’t need to be on Facebook and Twitter, because they won’t reach customers that way. Instead, loyal customers will recommend Céline to others, who in turn, will visit a store, see the quality, classic designs, and buy into the brand. Céline has no need to be on social media.

Rules are meant to be broken.

Rules may act as a guideline, but brands know what works best for them. Luxury fashion labels have proved this, by ignoring traditional social media marketing advice.

Whilst some may say it’s “old-fashioned” or “behind the times” to not have an active Facebook, Twitter or Instagram presence; the truth is, that posting memes and gifs every hour only works for certain brands.

Marketers know that the customer should always be the main consideration. If your customer isn’t active on social media, or doesn’t engage with brands online, then social media is irrelevant, because you won’t find new customers. Similarly, if your customer buys into your brand because of its exclusivity, they won’t appreciate you being overly-promotional on Instagram.

The last thing you want to do is alienate your customer, and the luxury fashion industry understands that perfectly.

Elle Pollicott

Elle Pollicott

Owned Media Consultant at Hallam Internet
Elle Pollicott is an Owned Media Consultant at Hallam Internet, working with a range of B2B and B2C clients in various industries to produce content marketing campaigns, and create SEO strategies. She graduated from the University of Manchester with a BSc(Hons) in Management & Marketing of Fashion Textiles.
Elle Pollicott
1 Comment
  1. I was going to say that these brands were making a mistake by not responding to their followers, but:

    >Nothing says aloof and exclusive like staying silent

    That’s a very good point. I suppose these rules really might not be one-size-fits-all after all.

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