Twitter for Luxury Brands

Twitter now unofficially has over 500m registered users globally – a very substantial number, considering the service was launched about six years ago. For many brands, this scale brings credibility and the nod to ‘jump in’ and for others, the chance to learn from the early adopters – the Nikes and Lynxs of this world.

We know that in luxury digital marketing, Burberry has positioned itself as an early adopter, the perennial luxury case study.  Their Twitter usage is a key example of how they’re willing to dive into new platforms, test and learn and become the early standard bearer.

We can see that Burberry have set themselves a clear objective for how they use Twitter & have a clear POV on what they want to get out of the platform. Undoubtedly,  clear objectives are critical for any luxury brand looking to use the platform from an owned or paid perspective.

Above all, luxury brands must ask themselves a number of questions before diving into Twitter.

A. What are the objectives (and KPIs) for using Twitter?

1. Customer engagement: To provide new information about the brand & its products, to recruit new customers into the brand’s world, to provide content that creates earned conversations on Twitter, blogs & other platforms and to potentially have conversations with followers. Stella McCartney does a great job of this, even re-tweeting some of her followers!

2. Customer service: To answer questions, providing help & assistance. A great example is @BurberryService, set up to provide 24hr service to Burberry customers & clients.

3. Purely informational: To inform & to direct to other owned platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or the brand’s Dotcom, where a rich trove of content is held. Dior’s Twitter feed is an example of this approach.

Once you’ve set your objectives for the platform, you need a set of KPIs.  Your KPIs should be based on what do you want people to do with your tweets and content. Do you want them to react? To retweet? To quote? To click?  What’s the most valuable part of the engagement to you? This will effectively become your core metric for Twitter.

B. How are consumers / your target audience using Twitter?

Even if your approach to social platforms is to not talk directly to consumers, you’ve still got to take into consideration how they use the platforms, how they interact with the content & the devices they use to connect to the platforms. With Twitter, over half of usage is via mobile (with mobile revenue set to surpass desktop this year). Generally, we know that mobile usage of the platform is about scrolling & reading content on the go, so  if you want people to engage with your brand’s content (i.e. RT, quote, click, etc) on Twitter, then your copy needs to be sharp.

The 90/9/1 (consumers / curators / creators) rule is still roughly applicable on Twitter, although arguably, more people tend to curate on Twitter because it’s such an easy action. There’s a great debate on this very topic on Branch.

Anecdotally, it would appear that tablet / laptop users are more willing to watch videos on Twitter, while photos are easy to look at via the mobile Twitter stream. This leads to the conclusion that a multi-media editorial / content strategy with very sharp copywriting, that’s true to the brand’s tone of voice  & DNA & takes into consideration multi-device usage would be the smartest approach for any brand on Twitter.

C. How interactive do you want to be with your followers?

For luxury brands, social platforms aren’t inherently ‘social’. As I’ve mentioned before, luxury brands are making their own rules in the social space. They control the conversation through the content they post and control what people are saying & can say about them on their owned platforms. The content becomes the conversation.

As usual, Burberry is first out of the blocks with an approach that’s evolved from no conversation to limited, controlled conversation. For their S/S ready to wear show, Christopher Bailey was actively seeking feedback via Twitter on the show.

Christopher Bailey’s Looking For Feedback!

They also continued their tradition of ‘inviting’ their Twitter followers to the show.

More recently, they’ve taken it the final step and gone over the luxury ‘red line’. Christopher Bailey ‘took over’ the Twitter feed in the run-up to the Spring / Summer 2013 Burberry show during London Fashion Week.

D. What’s the conversation / content strategy? Is there is a mix of text, image, video and audio?

A clear editorial strategy and calendar must be defined for Twitter, as what works on another platform may not work on Twitter.

For example, think about how to differentiate between Twitter and Facebook editorially, with content, and with timing.

Timing: Although you may decide to use the some of  same content on both platforms, your publishing cadence needs to be different. You could potentially post 2 times a day on Facebook  (depending on content, geo-targeting & time zones) and up to 4 times a day on Twitter (with the same caveats). Once you have access to the Twitter analytics platform, you’ll be able to see with greater accuracy when in the day people are reacting to your content and post accordingly, which is especially important if your KPIs are centered around volumes of engagement. However, in the beginning of your Twitter strategy, logic would tell you to align your tweets with natural downtimes (i.e. on the morning commute, lunchtime, towards the end of the day).

It also makes sense to be aware of moments when your target audience might be totally engrossed in a social TV moment, i.e. Downton Abbey, the 100m final of  the Olympics or the FA Cup final. Can you leverage those moments or would a tweet during this time get lost? A global / regional Twitter editorial strategy should also take this into consideration, although this is potentially less important than considering the time zone the tweet gets published in.

Leveraging Brand Moments: Another element to consider is to how to use the platform to leverage the big moments for your brand. How can you align those big moments with your Twitter content strategy without being gimmicky? For example, the mechanic of Burberry’s Tweetwalk during their Autumn / Winter Ready to Wear show wasn’t gimmicky (they were effectively just tweeting images of each look before they went onto the runway), but the name was.

For luxury autobrands, the big moment to think about special content might be during big international auto shows and for luxury fashion and beauty brands, it might be during the international fashion weeks. Your core followers will be expecting your brand’s perspective and content during these key moments, so why not reward them? You can also reward your followers (without necessarily being gimmicky) with exclusive contenta look backstage, an interview with a model / the designer, even the POV of the creator. Again, going back to Burberry, Christopher Bailey has rewarded the followers of the Burberry Twitter feed by ‘taking over’ (as much as 10-15 perfectly curated tweets can be).

E. How are you planning to use hashtags?

As I’ve written in a previous post, hashtags can be quite powerful. On Twitter specifically, luxury brands should use hashtags to:

  • Help categorise the tweet (i.e. #lfw)
  • Spark conversations (i.e. #odlrlive)
  • Help people find their content on Twitter when they’re looking for it (i.e. #proenzaschouler)
  • Connect with hashtags being used on other platforms, like Instagram
  • Capture or take ownership of conversations around a specific subject (i.e. #DVFthroughGlass)
  • Optimise their content on for searches on Google and other search engines

As ever, regular monitoring should be done on any hashtags that you choose to use to see what people are saying and to proactively assess if the hashtag you’ve used has been or is about to be hijacked.

F.  Should you be re-tweeting?

A retweet is effectively an endorsement of  the tweeter’s brand and their tweet. Luxury brands should think carefully about this – an endorsement is effectively borrowing associations from that brand. This is quite a rich territory so I’ll be writing a post specifically on this.

G. Should you use paid media on Twitter? What are the benefits?

Here are currently three different paid media products on Twitter and a pithy summary of why you might use them.

  • Promoted Trends: If you have a big brand moment that you want to amplify or if you want to piggyback on a national or international moment (i.e. the Olympics, the US Presidential elections, the Oscars)
  • Promoted Tweets: If you want to amplify your content to your followers, their friends and people who are potentially interested in your brand
  • Promoted Accounts: If you want to grow the number of followers on your account quickly

Whether or not a luxury brand chooses to use paid media on Twitter should be dependent not only on their objectives for Twitter, but also for the campaign this activity would be tied into.  Choose wisely, as using paid media, especially promoted trends and promoted accounts might be a bit too ‘pushy’ for a luxury brand.

So those are six considerations. Are there any more? What do you think?


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