Nowadays it’s hard to find a business manager who isn’t at least somewhat familiar with or aware of Facebook and Twitter. Facebook with its mass appeal and sharing functionality and Twitter with its bite-size bursts have changed the way brands communicate with their customers. These two platforms have dominated the social media landscape over the past few years, and continue to remain important arenas for brand interaction. But where do brands turn to when they’re ready to engage clients and prospects in a more innovative setting?
Luxury and fashion brands have already been exploring and participating in a range of other platforms beyond Facebook and Twitter:
Tumblr (www.tumblr.com) is a micro-blogging platform that allows sharing of any kind of media from links to images to videos. Tumblr users are encouraged to follow other users and re-blog posts that they like. With over 28 million blogs hosted on Tumblr, it’s no surprise that enterprises have taken note. Brands have liked Tumblr for its easy and attractive ability to blog, share, and connect.
While the Tumblr team has got into some hot water lately from brands frustrated by the exorbitantly priced fashion week sponsorships (not to mention the lack of metrics available to them to track the success of that investment) it’s clear that Tumblr’s future is still secure.
Some of the big luxury brands currently making use of Tumblr are Dolce&Gabbana (dolcegabbana.tumblr.com), Gucci (gucci.tumblr.com) and Alexander McQueen (m-c-q.com).
Foursquare (foursquare.com) is a location-based mobile platform that allows users to “check in” to physical locations, be they airports, bars, or stores. Users can share their location with friends, earn points and virtual badges, and use the platform to explore the area around them. Brands and retailers of all sizes have been taking advantage of Foursquare for its ability to connect the offline with the online. It’s the digital marketing answer for brick and mortar businesses.
Some of the noteworthy brands using Foursquare include Louis Vuitton (foursquare.com/louisvuitton_hq), Tiffany & Co. (foursquare.com/tiffanyandco) and David Yurman (foursquare.com/davidyurman).
Sina Weibo and other locally relevant platforms
It’s easy for Westerners working in social media to focus solely on those platforms that they linguistically understand, but an international brand would be foolish not to recognise the enormous potential of sites that cater to specific regions. One such example is Sina Weibo, a Chinese micro-blogging site that is a mix between Facebook and Twitter. With over 140 million users, Weibo is a strong force in the social space. Already over 60,000 accounts are verified celebrities and brands, with luxury companies jumping in.
Luxury brands on Sina Weibo include Burberry (weibo.com/burberry), Longines (weibo.com/longineschina) and Louis Vuitton (weibo.com/louisvuitton).
Swiss watchmaker Longines recognises the reach of Weibo and posts frequent updates. With close to 20,000 fans on Weibo, it’s not far off from matching the 27,000 fans the brand has on Facebook. Longines uses the platform to share brand news, store openings and feature entertainer and ambassador Aaron Kwok (who himself has over 3 million fans). In addition, Longines proudly displays the Sina Weibo logo right next to Facebook and Twitter on its global homepage (longines.com).
A mobile platform and iPhone application designed for easy photo sharing, Instagram (instagram.com) has very quickly gained a fashionable following with its artsy and retro photography filters. With over seven million registered users, and over 150 million uploaded photos, it’s no surprise that some big brands have found creative ways to participate.
Some of the brands currently engaging followers on Instagram are Jaeger-LeCoultre, Mr. Porter and Kate Spade.
New York-based luxury retailer Bergdorf Goodman recently launched an Instagram-specific campaign whereby location-tagged photos of shoes are displayed on a map. For the shoe-obsessed fashionista this is a perfect way to explore the shoe styles most popular around the globe.
It would be remiss to talk about new social platforms and not mention Google Plus (plus.google.com), the latest endeavour from internet giant Google. Since officially launching in the summer of 2011, Google+ quickly acquired a whopping 10 million+ users, even though the service has yet to be rolled out to the general public.
Brands have been cautiously watching and waiting for Google+ to release its suite of offerings for business pages, while media partners have already been experimenting with the “+1” button (google.com/+1/button). But will it be too late? Only time will tell how important a player Google+ becomes… but it’s important that brands pay attention and be ready to jump if needed.
Polyvore (polyvore.com) provides a global community of trendsetters with a virtual styling tool to create digital collages of clothing, jewellery, and accessories that can be shared easily across the web. With over 6.5 million monthly unique visitors, Polyvore deems itself the web’s largest community of tastemakers.
Catering to a fashion-obsessed audience, brands have found success partnering with Polyvore on contests, as Yves Saint Laurent did to celebrate Fashion’s Night Out in 2010. For the contest, entrants submitted style sets (the Polyvore-terminology for a collage) featuring YSL Edition 24 items. Participation was strong, with over 2,000 entries, and the winner won a YSL handbag.
Relatively new on the scene (launched in 2010) is Pinterest (pinterest.com), a platform that acts as a virtual pinboard or “mood board” for collecting inspiration by topic. Users are able to collect and organise images, links, and videos into groups for sharing and following.
Most commonly used for home décor, fashion, wedding planning and recipes, a few brands/retailers have already found a way to encourage user participation. US upscale retailer Nordstrom (pinterest.com/nordstrom) showcases fashion, shoes and accessories that followers can integrate into their own inspiration boards.
In order to become a true digital innovator, a title that hasn’t often been attributed to haute horlogerie brands, keeping a pulse on the digital trends and developments is key. While jumping into every new thing that comes along would be foolish, some risk-taking and experimentation is the only way to innovate. Where do you see your brand going to next after Facebook or Twitter?
Source: Europa Star October - November 2011 Magazine Issue