Over the past year, we have watched the needle climb higher and higher on the Burberry Facebook page, getting closer to being the top fashion brand on the entire platform, until it was finally reached this past Friday. A close second was Gucci, who just yesterday hit the 3 million fan milestone.
Other brands have even far surpassed this number. Take H&M with over 5 million fans, or Zara with over 7 million. In the luxury categories, Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren both come in at just under 2 million, whereas Marc Jacobs, Fendi and Tommy Hilfiger hit below the 1 million fan mark.
So what does the number of Facebook fans (or likes) really mean?
Let’s start with the benefits of Facebook for brands. What compelling reasons exist for brands to actively participate?
1. The ability to establish and build an audience that will grow from one campaign to the next.
2. Connect on a more personal level with potential customers where they are already spending time.
3. Maintain relevancy by inserting brand statements/content into a person’s daily life.
4. Gauge feedback from (potential) customers that can help to shape the brand in the future.
5. Market selectively through Facebook advertising.
Given these reasons, the more people reached, the more effective the marketing campaign (hypothetically, that is). For luxury brands, this may not always be the case because there will be an aspirational audience that cannot be actual customers for reasons of cost. However, in the luxury sector, the ability to take on a relevancy through social media can help to grow brands by connecting with new potential customer groups.
At present, there is not a direct way to measure the correlation between number of fans and purchases, so therefore it can’t be assumed that fans equate to purchasing power. But what can be inferred is that the most successful brands digitally have become content producers and aggregators, serving up information that not only highlights their products, but also conveys the brand’s place as a cultural entity.
While leading brands like Burberry or Gucci may have the visibility and resources to pioneer Facebook and gain fans rapidly, all brands can benefit from the strategy of content aggregation.
So what does 3 million fans mean, exactly? It means that there are 3 million people who buy into the culture of the brand, who want to personify it in some way, either through purchasing the product or simply by being associated with it. It means that these brands resonate with the lifestyle of 3 million people and that the brand can hope to remain relevant, in part, through this following and their influence online.
Photo Credits: Christopher Bailey’s note to fans from Burberry
All articles are reviewed and edited by Gina Conforti