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The gold standard: can you sell luxury goods on Twitter?

Can you use 280 characters to sell a 10,000 necklace, a 500 year-old painting, or a one-of-a-kind designer outfit?

We think so. Twitter’s potential to build a direct connection to the precise people you want to connect with, as well as its ability to upkeep your carefully honed brand positioning, makes it the jewel in the crown of any marketer of luxury goods. But it’s not as simple as showing up and suddenly selling; strategies and branding need to be taken into consideration.

Here are some of the opinions of people whose jobs have involved spreading the word about the finer things in life, such as jewellery, shoes, and champagne. We wanted to know how they are using Twitter to drive an enviable level of social finesse to their business, and also added in some luxurious tips of our own.

Use the influence of important connections

People trust other people, which is why word of mouth marketing continues to be a priceless marketing tool. And luxury goods are no different.

In fact, when Relevance used Audiense to analyse different audience segments for their yachting client, they found that the profiled audiences seemed to be only influenced by people who were like them. Recommendations from friends and family played a key role in their purchasing decisions.

Twitter can be used to leverage existing connections and keep the conversation going in order to reach a bigger audience. This may involve existing partnerships with both individuals (read: influencers) and companies alike.

“We are lucky to have a series of high profile sponsorships and partnerships–Royal Ascot, England Rugby, James Bond–which we participate in official activity for, mentioning and sharing each other’s content,” said John Franklin, Acting Head of Publications at Julius Baer, about his time with Mentzendorff & Co.–the agents for Champagne Bollinger in the UK.

“On another level, if a brand or friend of the brand shares content with us about enjoying Bollinger then we will share it with our followers,” he said.

So beyond your official partnerships, it’s important to be on the lookout for conversations that feature your brand and products in a positive light. Use a social listening tool to look for relevant brand mentions, especially from influential accounts.

Refresh people’s memories with retargeting

A buyer’s journey can be complex, and when looking for something to mark an important moment people may take time to decide. The large number of touchpoints a potential customer may have with your brand can give you many opportunities to sway them your way. To keep a steady presence in people’s minds, use Twitter Ad’s retargeting function to deliver Promoted Tweets to people who visited particular pages of your site.

Evoke the importance and prestige of your heritage

Beyond craftsmanship, sophistication, and exclusivity, heritage is one of the key values that make a luxury brand, according to luxury marketing expert Pamela N. Danziger. Twitter is the perfect place to showcase your brand’s history and heritage to evoke its importance.

“We are lucky to draw from incredible brand heritage, with lots of stories hosted on the brand website,” explained John Franklin, “So we can link to these on Twitter as well as use our library of historic images to tell our followers about the time before social media!”

Similarly, you can share behind-the-scenes images and iconic photographs to tell a story about the long-term pedigree of your company and solidify your position as a superior brand.

“Imagery is key for the instant snapshot storytelling, and a posted link to further content retains people’s interest,” John explained.

Newer brands that don’t have a long history to showcase can leverage Twitter to highlight their production methods, material sourcing process, and product quality–anything that could show what makes your brand special.

Extend the silver service to social

When it comes to service, luxury brands are expected to maintain a standard matching the price that people pay for their products. When someone walks into your store, they expect you to pay close attention and deliver superior service that they may not get elsewhere. This standard should also be maintained across social media.

Although pouring them champagne may be out of the question on Twitter, you can still maintain exceptional service by providing instant and dedicated support.

“Twitter is different from other platforms due to the customer's expectation for instant customer service (this is most obvious with airlines; however, it also extends to luxury retailers),” said Cannon Tekstar Hodge, a luxury social media consultant, who has worked for big names like Bergdorf Goodman and Carolina Herrera. Cannon currently heads bareMinerals’s Global Content and Social Strategy as Director.

“If a customer has a poor experience, Twitter is where they expect to receive an immediate resolution,” she explained.

Cannon was able to successfully extend the luxury expectation to Twitter, going beyond resolving issues to helping customers reserve a lunch seat. “It always brought me joy when I was able to help a customer find the perfect date look or graduation dress,” she stated.

“When managed correctly, Twitter is where customers can build personal relationships with the brands they love–a brand should feel successful when a bad customer service experience transforms into a positive online moment.“

Take advantage of special occasions

Twitter is a place for timely conversations. Trends and topics change in a matter of minutes. This is why it’s important to take advantage of big events and special occasions because they’re timely topics that can help you engage your target audience.

Make sure you’re analysing your target audience to see what they’re most interested in and what they’re Tweeting about. This will help you to narrow down the key occasions that you should focus on.

Victoria Hughes, Director of Champagne Bollinger UK, said, ““We try to link Tweets to British things of interest, such as national events or days, wishing people Happy St. George’s Day, or a suggestion of which Bollinger to drink during a Bank Holiday.”

Connect further afield

Twitter gives you the perfect platform for connecting with people outside your local area. Now with better access to travel and ecommerce, people have multiple options to shop luxury products even if they don’t live in places where physical stores aren’t present. You can build brand awareness in a non-intrusive way and create a strong desire to buy your products.

According to Harry Winston’s former CEO, Frédéric de Narp, “New forms of communication, such as social media, are becoming increasingly important vehicles to cultivate brand awareness, particularly among younger generations. It allows us to bring clients who do not live near one of our 26 retail salons, inside the experience of Harry Winston.”

Frédéric explained that the brand was able to see a lot of first-time clients who were already highly educated about the brand’s product offerings.

Align your voice to the channel

Since you’re trying to connect with your audience, it’s important to adjust your tone of voice to match the tone used across Twitter. Brands should find the right balance between a voice that matches the Twitter vibe while retaining their brand personality.

According to Victoria Hughes, “The tone of @Bollingeruk aims to be approachable and informative, whilst retaining the inimitable character of the brand and the fun of Champagne. We try and provide lots of different types of content to retain our followers’ interest.”

While most brands try to keep things fun, witty, and light on Twitter, the same voice may not necessarily work for all types of companies. But in general, humour seems to have an impact on the platform.

“What works for Bollinger is retaining a sense of humour and fun Champagne is meant to be enjoyed!” explained Victoria.

“Unlike other platforms, Twitter has maintained its real-time pace and familiar tone–brands are expected to be more conversational, flirty, and fun,” added Cannon Tekstar Hodge.

Don’t be afraid to experiment

Just because your brand is maybe 400 years old, doesn’t mean your social marketing ideas need to be. It’s perfectly possible to have a respectable, highly-curated brand on Twitter while also getting to grips with new techniques, content ideas, and tools. Always look to integrate new practices that help to spread brand awareness, deliver better customer service or increase ROI.

Referring to new features introduced on the platform, Cannon suggested, “Brands should feel encouraged to develop real-time, behind-the-scenes experiences for their audience. Or even Q&A sessions with their creative leads. New platforms aren't just for fashion week experimentation.”

Following these expert tips will hopefully lead your high-quality luxury brand to a more effective, profitable, and far-reaching Twitter presence. If you have further tips that you have used or been impressed by, we'd love to hear about them in the comments below.

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