Here’s How Luxury Brands Are Doing Social Media Very Wrong (& The Few Who Break The Mold)

Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
The fashion industry arguably has some of the best visuals to work with when it comes to social media — beautiful clothes, beautiful people, and lots of professionally produced, big-budget photography from ad campaigns and editorial shoots. Some brands have successfully personified themselves on various platforms (though the death of social media “voices” seems imminent…), but there's still a lot of room for improvement in the luxury space, according to a new report by Brandwatch.

The social media monitoring and analytics company analyzed 32 luxury fashion brands for the report, parsing through 721,140 social conversations, looking at five categories: social visibility, general visibility, net sentiment, reach growth, and social engagement and content. It found that luxury fashion brands tweet and post on Facebook less than two times on each platform in an average day, compared to the roughly 27 tweets per day that leading food and beverage brands churn out (though businesses in this category also post fewer than two times daily on Facebook).

"As an industry, [luxury fashion brands] have been relatively more reluctant to adopt social media programs. Their reluctance may have a lot to do with the culture of these brands — there's a heavy focus on quality, heritage, and in some ways a certain level of exclusivity,” James Lovejoy, Brandwatch’s content researcher, told Refinery29. “I think a lot of these brands have felt that becoming active on social media might introduce the kind of ubiquity you see around mainstream clothing brands...by being quiet or not paying attention to what's happening on social, many [luxury] brands are becoming blind to how they're being discussed online and the way social affects fashion.”

Luxury fashion brands could also work on their timing, apparently. They’re often MIA during peak audience-connecting times, when people are “actively pursuing” these brands on social media: The sweet spots are evenings between 9 and 11 p.m., plus Sundays.

“The community managers that maintain these social handles work regular hours and are not around from 9 to 11 p.m. to respond to their audiences,” Lovejoy says. “The solution is a little more difficult; brands can just wait to respond until the morning, create automatic, pre-canned responses to certain inquiries, or choose to hire community managers in time zones or hours that would be active during peak times. Obviously, for an international organization, having someone maintaining the social handles at all times is ideal.”

As for the most visible brands on social media, Chanel takes the cake, followed by Dior, Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany & Co., Burberry, and Gucci. The five least visible brands are Hermes, Salvatore Ferragamo, Kenzo, Dsquared, and DKNY, consecutively. The three highest scoring labels (in all five categories above), are Calvin Klein, Christian Dior, and Louis Vuitton. Also, Chloé is apparently the fashion house that has women talking the most on social media (a.k.a. “leading the conversation,” according to Brandwatch).
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Another fascinating tidbit from the report is that certain celebrities are lending some serious social media muscle to the fashion brands they collaborate with. Ariana Grande increased mentions of Coach (she paired up with the label on a design earlier this year), and Miley Cyrus pumped up social media mentions for Prada and Versace, according to Brandwatch. Justin Bieber was especially impactful; he was mentioned in relation to Calvin Klein over 87,000 times on social media, thanks to his campaign with the brand’s underwear and denim lines (and probably also thanks to the fact that Bieber plastered his social media feeds with his Calvins obsession long before he even scored the campaign in January).

Underwear is, in fact, a very highly discussed Calvin Klein topic: 48% of social media conversations about the brand have to do with its skivvies. But people aren’t just tweeting about whatever’s getting between them and their Calvins. Underwear is the second-most popular fashion item, accounting for 27% of social media conversations in terms of particular articles of clothing — just 2% less than dresses, which are the most-discussed item for luxury fashion brands.

Tiffany & Co., Christian Louboutin, and Michael Kors topped the list in terms of most-responsive brands. “It is definitely important that a brand doesn't just ignore their consumers online. However, thinking more broadly, responsiveness is at the core of a successful social intelligence program,” Lovejoy says. “That goes well beyond just replying to questions or comments; responsiveness means constantly following the conversation surrounding the industry and being able to have those conversations inform the business' decisions.”

It’s worth noting that Brandwatch did not include or explore Instagram stats for this report. It’s become an undeniably crucial platform for the industry, having been dubbed fashion brands’ “battleground for consumer engagement,” by Business of Fashion. The rankings across Brandwatch’s five categories might shift if Instagram were to be factored in, though probably not by much. It would be wise to include Snapchat in the next report as well, as the amalgam of social media platforms (and ones that are relevant and frequently used by the fashion community) continues to grow.
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