Why Chanel is the most influential luxury brand on social

The accessible and ‘always on’ nature of social media seems slightly at odds with the world of luxury fashion and beauty.

Perhaps understandably, luxury brands tend to be a little more cautious when it comes to how and what they share on social.

However, with a large percentage of shoppers now being influenced and even making decisions based on what they see online – social is a hugely important tool for luxury brands looking to deepen consumer engagement.

Last year, Chanel was named by Insightpool as the most influential luxury brand on social media (based on overall engagement), topping the list above others like Louis Vuitton and Christian Siriano. With a total of 40.8 million followers on Twitter and Instagram alone – Chanel has generated a huge following.

But what keeps users so engaged? Here’s a few reasons behind its social winning strategy.

Upholding exclusivity

Chanel has famously abstained from fully entering the world of ecommerce, only selling limited ranges of eyewear and beauty products online. But while the brand is clearly mindful of protecting the exclusive nature of its products, it has been less cautious when it comes to digital and social media marketing, creating a heavy presence across most channels.

That being said, Chanel is still keen on maintaining a sense of exclusivity where possible. So, while it has millions of followers across social, Chanel deliberately follows no one back (apart from its own Chanel Beauty on Instagram). As well as helping to portray an aloof image, this also takes away the need to interact with users or stray into using social channels for the purpose of customer service.

The decision to avoid communicating with consumers online has its negatives, of course. Brands that do reach out and reply to comments and tweets are typically viewed favourably by users – plus it can take the strain off other areas of customer service.

For a luxury brand like Chanel, however, this is clearly not a priority, or at least not one big enough to risk diluting its exclusive reputation.

In fittings – House ambassador Vanessa Paradis wearing a bespoke #CHANELHauteCouture dress before opening the #Cesar2018 awards. More photos on https://t.co/a5kOLdZ1LJ pic.twitter.com/kGVOiPbWvW

March 3, 2018

Harnessing the power of influence

Another way Chanel extends its control over social is with the type of content it produces – specifically content that makes it seem aspirational rather than accessible.

Unlike brands that promote products in the context of consumers’ everyday lives, Chanel deliberately depicts its own world – one that is overtly editorial and arty in nature. Chanel has relinquished complete control over its image in some ways though, particularly when it comes to working with social media influencers.

Again, this can be a dangerous strategy for luxury brands, with influencers potentially diluting exclusivity and veering into mass-market promotion.

Chanel’s decision has proved successful, however, helping the brand to stay relevant and maintain visibility at opportune moments. As highlighted in Econsultancy’s New Face of Luxury report, Chanel’s campaign to promote its new No. 5 L’Eau perfume was a resounding success, with influencer content generating one million likes in a month.

The campaign’s success was largely due to the influencers chosen to be involved, with Chanel only working with people that portray a certain type of aspirational lifestyle. The campaign’s extravagant premise, which involved sending influencers to its production facility in the South of France obviously contributed to this too.

A commitment to video

According to reports, Chanel’s social success has sky-rocketed in a short space of time, with the brand seeing an average growth of 50% across multiple platforms in just a year. One reason looks to be its video strategy.

Chanel posts consistently on YouTube in particular, using the platform for narrative-led, feature film content. Its first – ‘The One That I Want’ starring Gisele Bundchen has amassed over 18 million views to date. Alongside celebrity-driven campaigns, the brand also uses video for more behind-the-scenes content, such as its ‘Inside Chanel’ series, which is designed to remind consumers of the brand’s long history and unique vision.

Not all of its video content is quite so cinematic. Though it is careful not to sway too much into this style of populist content, Chanel would be foolish to ignore the huge opportunity presented by search interest in beauty on YouTube.

Consequently, its ‘Make Up’ playlist is full of short and informative tutorial-based content, designed to instil desire for products as well as offer value for viewers looking for tips and advice.

A platform-specific approach

Despite an overriding focus on video content, Chanel doesn’t use a blanket approach, instead choosing to optimise content for different platforms. For example, it often takes snippets of ads to pique interest on Instagram, while it might post the long-form ad on YouTube or Facebook.

Meanwhile, despite the fact that the brand works so hard to retain its exclusive image, Chanel doesn’t set out to alienate or exclude consumers. It’s a tricky balance, of course, but Chanel also uses social to make users feel like they’re being let in a secret, or in the case of #ChanelTower – an invitation to a private party.

#ChanelTower was the hashtag used by the brand for its Autumn/Winter 2017/18 runway show in Paris, which included a scale replica of the Eiffel Tower for its models to walk around. The brand massively hyped up the show on Instagram in particular, using the hashtag to collate content relating to the event, including videos of celebrity guests and exclusive snapshots of new designs.

Reports suggest that the event created a huge splash for the brand on social, with likes and comments increasing massively on the day. What’s more, with users tagging their own content using the hashtag, Chanel saw increased reach and exposure on Instagram during this time.

What can we learn?

Here are three key lessons to take away.

Retain exclusivity. Just because luxury brands are embracing social media doesn’t mean they have to become mass-market. Chanel is a great example of how to retain a sense of exclusivity, as well as how to capitalise on it to make users feel important and valued.

Be picky with influencers. Not all influencers are equal, which is why it’s vital that luxury brands partner with those that are a good fit. As well as aligning with its own unique style and values, Chanel chooses trusted influencers who are likely to create the right kind of content without too much brand involvement.

Optimised (video) content FTW. While image and text-based content is effective, video content can be far more so when it comes to generating engagement on social. Chanel is a great example of a luxury brand that has wholeheartedly embraced the medium, using varied video content (and optimising it) to drive interest cross-platform.

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