Premium Brands Don’t Get Social Media

Premium Brands On Facebook [Research]

Premium brands meet social media (Facebook)Premium brands aren’t socialable on social media. This is a key outcome of the June, 2012, report Top 100 Prestige Brands on Facebook based on an analysis of digital aptitude by L2 and Buddy Media. Having worked on true premium brands, this makes sense to me. Elite, status brands are positioned to attract customers willing to pay for the brands’ exclusivity. These brands don’t want the mass, engaged audiences that social media platforms, including Facebook, offer. A different social media approach is needed. (Here’s 11 tips to improve Facebook effectiveness.)

Based on four Facebook factors including size and growth (35%), engagement (35%), programming, content and commerce (20%), and integration across digital marketing platforms (10%), L2 and Buddy Media ranked status brands. The top eleven brands based on this rating are:

  1. Macy’s
  2. Sephora
  3. Lancôme (tied)
  4. Michael Kors (tied)
  5. IWC
  6. Smashbox
  7. Swarovski
  8. United Colors of Benetton
  9. El Corte Inglés
  10. Estée Lauder (tied)
  11. Pandora (tied)

The major flaw with L2 and Buddy Media’s Top 100 Prestige Brands on Facebook analysis is many of the brands tracked aren’t truly premium, status or elite. For example, Macy’s is a popular priced department store. It’s not in the same class as high-end department stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue or Neiman Marcus.

Despite the research’s underlying issues, it found three points of interest that true premium brands should use to chart the course for their overall social media strategy.

  1. Premium brand engagement on social media has shrunk in half. Despite increased Facebook community size, social media interactions, such as likes and comments, have fallen off significantly in the past year. Deeper examination reveals the brands are responsible for this decline. Over one fifth of these brands don’t engage in two-way conversations and one third don’t even allow Facebook posts! Premium Brand Challenge: Social media engagement requires active participation on various platforms. This means communications with prospects, customers and the public. At its core, this approach is counter to the culture of prestige brands. Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip for Premium Brands: Choose social media platforms where your premium brand can show its stuff and control the conversation, such as private social media sites or visual sharing sites such as Tumblr and Pinterest.
  2. Facebook platform changes dampened cachet brand growth. Specifically, introduction of Facebook’s Timeline interface has slowed fan growth. L2 found that prestige brands added 125% more fans in the 50 days before Facebook’s Timeline launch compared with the same period after the mandatory interface change. Premium Brand Challenge: Social media marketing isn’t a core focus; as a result, these brands are slow to keep up with changes in these media. Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip for Premium Brands: Given the power of photographs and brand images, use images in areas where the brand can control its use such as blogs and other owned media.
  3. Local Facebook country pages enhance elite brand growth on social media. At least two fifths of premium brands have one or more local country page according to L2. These local Facebook pages have grown at twice the rate of global and US communities for these brands and have 50% higher engagement. Often, these brands register an emerging market based city such as Taipei as the top place where people are talking about the brand on Facebook. Premium Brand Challenge: These results underscore the growth of these brands in emerging economies where acquiring these branded products is a sign of wealth and social status. Unlike more established wealth that tends to be understated, these new customers discuss their purchases since it’s a sign of achievement. Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip for Premium Brands: Develop targeted social media strategies to entice new prospects and customers in these markets. Create special marketing personas and social media personas to better understand your desired audience.

When it comes to social media, premium brands should take time to assess how to integrate engagement and interaction in a way that enhances the customer experience and the brand equity.

Have you worked with premium brands on social media? If so, what are your recommendations for building these marketing plans and what’s your rationale?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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