Can Social Media be Exclusive?
By definition, social media is intended to be ‘inclusive’. From a marketing perspective, its appeal is that social media connects your brand with millions of people globally. But what if you see over exposure as damaging to your brand? What if your brand is so exclusive that you trade off an element of cliquish, privileged only awareness? Does social media make sense? Actually, when you use it the right way it can be very exclusive.
For a start, a brand does not have to allow everyone to follow it. Design and UX of websites already make some luxury brands exclusive to the point where no one would want to use them let alone someone who is cash rich but time poor. (But that is a subject for another blog entirely).
In order for a luxury brand to succeed on social media it needs to meet the expectations of their target audience. It must look luxury. It must talk to the target audience as they would expect if they went in store and it must provide the level of service their customers would expect. In short, social media should be an extension of their existing brand experience, not an exploitation of viral media.
Content is king.
The content of a brand’s social media posts will define the followers. If the content appeals to a well heeled sophisticated audience, then it is unlikely that someone who can’t afford or understand the brand will follow. Hence it is the content that makes a social media page exclusive. This strategy relies on ‘Owned’ content rather than ‘Earned’. Statistics tell us that user generated content is more likely to be shared than owned content, however, good quality owned content such as lifestyle, aspirational content will help build a small select community, albeit slowly.
‘What about the aspirational audience?’ I hear you say.
Well that is a good point, but again if someone aspires to the brand then the content can help define their tastes and desires so that when they eventually can afford the brand, they are loyal followers. Also the kind of content such as lifestyle images and stories of movers and shakers should appeal to the next generation of customers as the current one.
Does it need to be exclusive?
Some brands differ on this point. Take Oscar De La Renta for example, has close to 1 million followers on Facebook. Do you think all of those can afford £8,000 for a dress? But social media users like to define their personalities online by demonstrating what ‘impeccable taste’ they have. These aspirational followers influence those that do buy Oscar De La Renta by making them feel all the more special because they can afford the brand, whilst so many can’t.
Graff Diamonds, just 3 stores in London and 2 in New York, but with 219,000 followers on Instagram
Hublot, £33,000 for a watch – 1.1million followers on Facebook 244,000 on Twitter
Porsche – 10 million followers on Facebook, 1.3million followers on Instagram. Porsche 918 Spyder hybrid Weissach for £712,000 anyone?
These are brands that are exclusive but not afraid of being universally desired. They are maximizing the pyramid effect of social media to drive and maintain appeal in their brands.
The question remains, if your brand has equity in obscurity, can it be harmed by over exposure? I’m not convinced it can, but either way there is no reason to avoid social media. Developing a relationship with potential customers globally will allow you to learn so much about your target audience. This can feed back into product development, customer support, sales and marketing in ways that would otherwise cost significantly more investment. The truth is, all things being well, people are already talking about your brand on social media. Wouldn’t you rather take charge of that?