The Facebook Dilemma, Part I: To Participate or Not to Participate

Jul 28, 2010

Elizabeth Canon

Many times over, luxury brands question the need to have a dedicated presence on Facebook. The main issue is that the audience interacting with the brand does not always align with the brand’s target demographic. High-end brands, low-end Facebook fans; to many luxury marketers, it just doesn’t add up. Fashion’s Collective previously covered the notion of brand control within social media. As an open, transparent and conversational platform, Facebook presents a significant challenge to luxury brands. In a three-part series of posts, Fashion’s Collective will approach the dilemma luxury brands must tackle on Facebook.

Dilemma No. 1, To Participate or Not to Participate

There is no one universal law when it comes to deciding if luxury brands should establish official Facebook pages. Rather, brands should determine if, and how, Facebook can provide value to the brand, as well as to the audience. This value is unique to each brand, and should be evaluated on an individual basis.

Value for the brand may be correcting falsehoods that have been communicated by a rogue page. Value may be learning that the conversations happening on an unofficial page or group do not involve your actual consumer or target audience, and thus may not require significant brand acknowledgement. Value may instead be the ability to tap into a large audience, get instant feedback by engaging in a dialogue, or to show innovation and relevance by being on a popular platform. It may be valuable for the brand to tout their personality in a way not appropriate on other marketing channels.

Once the value is determined, brands need to weigh both the logistics of participating, as well as the risks of not participating. Included in this is the ability to access brand assets quickly, to allocate a team to monitor and update the Facebook page, to ensure the brand voice is maintained in all posts. Risks for deciding not to participate include potentially allowing an unofficial page to represent the brand, not capitalizing on a platform people are spending over 500 billion minutes per day on, or falling short of a customer’s expectations by being absent from a relevant social network.

Based on the value, Facebook can be leveraged in a number of ways, tailored to the needs of the brand. Here is a snapshot of brands that have deemed it valuable to become established on Facebook, and are doing so in a variety of meaningful ways:

1. The Tiffany brand Facebook page provides imagery featuring new collections, a press section, a sign-up form to capture registrations, and a well-managed discussion board to field topics pertaining mainly to customer service and jewelry industry questions. The responses to fans on their wall are limited to these topics as well, establishing the Facebook page as a well-branded, official source of information that supports the brand and provides customers with an outlet to talk to and about the brand.
www.facebook.com/tiffany

2. Tory Burch utilizes the official Facebook page as a means for fans to get to know Tory. The wall is not separated into official/just fans/official + fans but rather is one conversation that both the fans and the brand participate in. Wall posts vary from a special discount offer to Tory’s vacation pictures in Peru, providing an authentic sneak peek into the woman behind the brand.
http://www.facebook.com/toryburch

3. CHANEL positions their Facebook page as a microsite, offering a secondary navigation that directs fans along to relevant sections of the brand website. There is not much fan interaction with the brand, rather it is more about controlling the image of CHANEL while participating in Facebook.
www.facebook.com/chanel

4. Prada is an example of a brand that has so far chosen not to participate. Their over 450,000 fans are fans of a rogue page that is not controlled by the brand.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Prada/8612037257?v=wall&ref=ts

In coming articles Fashion’s Collective will discuss how to participate and the different strategies employed by the most effective brands on Facebook.

Photo Credits:Poker.ie

Edited by: Gina Conforti