Luxury Brands Remain Aloof on Facebook

Is standoffish behavior good for keeping fans?

Luxury goods consumers, it turns out, want to connect online with their favorite brands, but these marketers keep engagement to a minimum—and apparently for good reason.

Research by advertising agency Wong, Doody, Crandall, Wiener, given exclusively to Adweek, shows that while consumers flock to the Facebook pages of luxury labels listed in the recent Interbrand’s 2010 Best 100 Global Brands report, these brands are mostly unresponsive. In most cases, they do not even allow fans to post on the brand’s Facebook pages.

Examining data collected in November 2010, the agency compared luxury goods with fast-moving consumer goods, looking at the 84 official fan pages that existed for both among Interbrand’s global top 100. Seven of these were luxury brands, including Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Cartier, and Gucci.

Whereas FMCG companies had an average of over 365,000 fans each, luxury brands each had an average of more than 1.5 million. The number of posts from each brand did not vary greatly, but the user response did. Posts from luxury brands received an average of 3,021 likes compared with a paltry 131 for FMCG.

Among luxury bands only Tiffany & Co. allowed fans to post to its page. All of the FMCG brands allowed fan postings and 85 percent of them responded.

Also, other now-standard means of furthering engagement via Facebook—soliciting photo submissions, running polls, quizzes, surveys, or competitions—were completely ignored by the high-end brands.

But such tactics may suit the business of high-end marketing perfectly, suggests Ben Wiener, CEO of WDCW. He points out that while nonengagement flies in the face of conventional marketing wisdom, it makes sense for purveyors of luxury goods; as they have already spent decades building an aura of exclusivity around their names, he notes, little or no social media push may be required.

“FMCG and other companies essentially pay for fans on Facebook with giveaways and competitions,” said Wiener, “but luxury brands could probably charge [consumers] to be fans without losing too many.”

Perhaps a certain loftiness is good for high-end brands, but preventing fans from posting on your Facebook page? Some may feel that's positively snooty.

Facebook Activity and Practices Among Interbrand Global 100 Luxury Brands FMCG Brands
Average number of fans 1,521, 728 366,639
Corporate posts per month 11 17
Fan posts per month n/a 144
Likes per corporate post  3,021 131
Comments per post 176 35
Video content 100% 92%
Wall open to fan posts 14% 100%
Respond to fan posts/comments 14% 85%
Solicit stories/fan posts 43% 92%
Solicit photos 0% 46%
Post surveys/polls/quizzes for fun 0% 54%
Post surveys/polls/quizzes for research 0% 46%
Promote contests 0% 46%
SOURCE: Wong, Doody, Crandall, Wiener, April 2011    


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