The huge developments in digital technology and marketing all around us have made it impossible for any business, multinational or start-up, to ignore the importance of an online presence in reaching their target audience. If that wasn’t enough, the challenge goes a step further for SMEs in the luxury and premium space and for their multiple-hat-wearing, time-poor business owners; having to maintain online, the exclusivity, aspiration and highest levels of quality and service expected when it comes to higher-end products and services.
Over and above a website, there is also an expectation for luxury and premium brands to be present on social media. Whether it’s a younger audience who don’t know a life without Instagram, or, those like myself who have grown to expect brands to use social media platforms in the way we now do, it is crucial for SMEs in the luxury industry to provide engaging content, be active on the right networks and provide real-time customer service on- as well as offline.
Here are 5 key, cost-effective ways in which SMEs in the luxury and premium space can showcase their brands to digitally-active audiences, without compromising on a high-end online presence.
1) Tell the story of your brand heritage and allow customers a look behind the scenes
While luxury brands may have traditionally played upon an air of mystery, social media can be used tactically to give customers a behind the scenes glimpse into your brand. SMEs have a great opportunity to engage their audience with interesting and carefully selected online content such as the story of how your brand came to be, the person behind the brand, or success stories of how the brand grew beyond the kitchen table. Communicating the history behind your brand and its products or services, as well as explaining your brand values is crucial to effective marketing in the luxury industry, building brand appeal and a closer connection to your customers. And it is still possible to create a level of exclusivity through closed member groups, exclusive online-only products, and in the look and feel and tone of voice of your brand online and on social media.
2) Find your luxury brand’s influencers
While it might not be on the scale (profile as well as budget!) of Burberry, Breitling or British Airways, social media allows you to identify and develop a relationship with relevant bloggers and other influencers for your luxury product or service. Influencers come in all shapes and sizes and are not just of the globally-known, blogging and frightfully expensive type! Think about local figures in your community, relevant magazines and websites, even restaurants or places of interest and choose those that are a good fit with your brand’s values and style. By building genuine links with such people or businesses, you can build a valuable network of trusted influencers who become real advocates for your brand with their communities. Additionally, and importantly, these influencers are more likely to share the right type and style of content meaning less involvement needed from you. Influencer marketing is especially important in the luxury industry where customers often seek expert reviews and opinions before making a higher value purchase. Using social media to leverage the power of influencers can help you to reach a much wider audience and above all, the right type of customer who is likely to be interested and engaged by your offering.
3) Don’t make it all about you
The only way to grow your brand awareness, engagement and ultimately convert customers long term via social media is to provide frequent, interesting content not just about your brand, your product and your promotions but around the topics that are of interest to your target customer and his or her way of life.
Whether it be food, fashion, travel, art and culture or local events, thinking about the wider luxury or premium lifestyle that your customer leads and that your business is a part of will help you to build a deeper personality for your brand, source more interesting and relevant content, and better identify with your customer, while avoiding a spammy social media presence.
Doing so positions you as a ‘thought leader’ or credible source when it comes to the luxury lifestyle around your brand and you are therefore much more likely to resonate positively in a customer’s mind than a brand whose social media existence is one hundred percent focused on themselves. Your page will also continue to be valuable to your customer once they have purchased your product or service as you will give them a reason to keep following you, share positive word of mouth and become all-important repeat and loyal customers.
4) Use social media formats and features to their full advantage
Luxury consumers expect the highest quality from your product or service and they’ll be expecting the same from your social media presence and communication. From stories to GIFs to live-streaming and a whole host of other creative formats (which needn’t be gimmicky and can look very high-end) social media allows you to showcase your brand, its luxury ethos, its look and feel and its tone of voice, providing your audience with the high-end online experience they want and expect.
Visual social networks including Instagram provide an important opportunity for luxury and premium brands to showcase their products. We say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and photographs are a powerful way of evoking the exclusive and aspirational emotions that customers connect to a high-end purchase. And while images are effective, video content takes things one step further on the tangibility spectrum, allowing you to generate higher levels of engagement on social media by using varied video content to capture attention and drive interest.
5) Combine the in-store and online experience
In the luxury and premium retail industry, there is still significant importance placed on the presence of bricks and mortar stores in allowing customers to truly experience a brand and have the opportunity to ‘touch and feel’ a product to make an informed decision about a higher-priced purchase. But in a digital and e-commerce age, online and offline must be integrated, working hand-in-hand to drive customer acquisition and retention from both channels. Social media ‘buzz’ created by an impactful campaign or an online influencer can for example drive a subsequent in-store purchase. Another tactical way in which the online-offline experience can be integrated is by leveraging Facebook geo-targeted advertisements to drive customers into a particular store they are in close proximity to, perhaps including an exclusive offer or promotion as a call to action to prompt a visit. If the customer is in store, they can be encouraged to take photos and share content using a specific hashtag, or prompted to visit the brand’s website to enter a competition, or leave an online review after purchasing in-store. In-store events can also be live-streamed, allowing much further reach and bringing the tangibility of offline to online.
Social media provides an important and exciting opportunity for SMEs in the luxury and premium space. I’d be happy to help you unlock your brand’s potential by applying these tips and techniques. My social media packages are designed to cater to different needs in the small-medium business environment and help you optimise all aspects of your social media presence. For more information, please get in touch.