If you are in the business of marketing luxury fashion brands, you’ve almost certainly asked yourself what kind of Facebook content will best engage your target audience.

I am going to give you some help in finding those answers by looking at key indicators of how this audience uses social media. My goal here is to identify some of the major content themes across the luxury fashion industry, and see what posts are driving the most engagement. But, of course, marketers looking to reach luxury-minded consumers in any category will likely benefit from this information.

Methodology

Below is a list of the brand pages we’ll be taking a look at:

  • Marc Jacobs
  • Versace
  • Dior
  • Louis Vuitton
  • Burberry
  • Chanel
  • Gucci
  • Armani
  • Dolce & Gabbana
  • Calvin Klein

The analysis will cover all content posted to the Facebook walls of each brand during the time period of April 1–June 30, 2012.

While each brand will certainly have a set of specific subjects that represents it, what I’m going to look for here are overall industry themes that perform well across all or most of the brands. These are things that both reflect the entire luxury category and give marketers more universal insights that can be applied to other luxury or fashion brands.

So let’s take a look at which brand’s pages are most engaging, and what’s driving that engagement.

What does engagement look like in the luxury fashion industry?

Every industry has its own performance benchmarks for Facebook and social media marketing, so it’s always important to view data in the context of other brands in the category.

Chart 1 shows the leaderboard for our 10 luxury fashion brands. Let’s start by taking a look at the average engagement rates for pages in this category.

Chart 1: Leaderboard of Facebook postings for the luxury fashion category. (All Facebook Data Captured by Zuum.)

In the Engagement Rate column, you’ll see an industry average of .14 percent. That’s pretty good in general, and very good for pages with high fan counts such as these. Considering that the average number of fans for these pages is 5.9 million, that’s a lot of people to be trying to engage.

It’s also interesting to note that several of the top pages in terms of fan counts also have above-average engagement rates. So brands on this list with lower fan counts and lower engagement rates can know that achieving higher engagement rates is very much within reach.

Keeping that benchmark of a .14 percent as an average engagement rate in mind, let’s take a look at posting volume.

How much content should we be posting is another big question for most Facebook pages. What’s too much, and what’s too little?

Consider the posting volume column in the leaderboard. It’s interesting to note that the average posting volume for this industry is 90 posts for the 3-month period, or right about one post per day. And if you look at the five most engaging pages, you’ll see that they’re all pretty close to that amount.

Looking at the pages with lower engagement rates, you’ll see that the posting volume fluctuates a lot from the average — both below and above. This could indicate a real sweet spot for the fashion industry, in general.

It’s very likely that fashion, while highly desirable content for many fans, also has a clear limit to how much people want to hear from any one brand. Once a brand is familiar with what’s working well, they can work to increase volume, but it’s always better to start pursuing high engagement rates.

As for this industry, it looks like posting once per day is a good starting point to go by.

The fashion industry’s media type of preference

The media type you deliver your content in can be a big determinant of how effectively your content will engage fans — sometimes marketing success is just a matter of finding the type of content that will best represent the product or brand.

In the case of luxury fashion, it’s pretty obvious that it’s a visual medium and, therefore, the most compelling content is going to have a visual component.

Looking at the Chart 2 breakout of how much each brand is posting on each media type and what the resulting engagement rates are, it probably won’t shock you that photos are generating strong engagement for Facebook pages in the fashion industry.

Chart 2: Engagement rates and posting volume by media type.

What might be surprising, though, is that video content isn’t nearly as engaging as photo posts. After all, wouldn’t you assume that video would be a dynamic way to present fashion items?

The answer to that could be that since the 1950s, when fashion ads moved from illustration to photography, photos have been the way we typically view fashion products. Whether it’s a catalog or a fashion magazine.

However, a subtler, but more powerful factor could be that for many people, fashion shopping involves a lot of browsing — flipping through a large number of items to get to the one you find most appealing. Video is too much of a linear, long format for that type of shopping experience. If an item in a video isn’t what you want, you don’t want to have to sit through another 20 seconds of video. With photography, you just click to the next image, which parallels the shopping behavior of pouring through racks of shirts or stacks of jeans. So we can pick up clues from the offline world that feed our online content strategy (because trying to change consumer behavior is rarely an easy thing).

So whether you’re a brand or a local fashion store, keep this in mind if you’re trying to determine the best way to get your content across. Video might not be the way to go for this industry, unless it’s more of an event video, or about something other than browsing the merchandise.

What subjects are the fans interested in?

While we can see that photos are popular, a logical next question is, “What subjects should our photos be about?

Subject analysis is the richest area of content analysis, but it’s also the most challenging because there are so many different subjects.

A good way to start looking at subject analysis is by viewing a keyword cloud of most frequently used terms across the entire industry. This is what you’ll see in Chart 3.

Chart 3: Subject Explorer view of the most commonly used subjects, with an engagement rate of at least 25 percent below average.

Note the sliders at the top of the chart. These reflect some of the key parameters to consider when looking at keywords:

  • Minimum average engagement rate lets you determine how engaging you want all the keywords you’re viewing to be.
  • The posting volume determines how many times that subject appeared in posts for the given time.
  • And the number of pages is just like it sounds: How many pages did that subject appear on?

By controlling these three factors, you can look for specific use examples of subjects.

Let’s say we simply want to see subjects that are being used a lot in this industry. We’re not concerned with engagement rate for the moment — we’re just looking for subjects used a lot in this industry. So I’m setting the engagement rate slider in chart 3 to 25 percent below average, so as not to exclude subjects just because their average engagement is low. Again, we’re interested in what the frequent themes are.

For posting volume, I’ll set that at two times, to eliminate subjects that may perform well as a fluke (which would skew the results). Thirdly, the number of pages it’s viewed on should be two, to eliminate brand terms. Again, we’re interested in the broad industry terms here in this analysis.

With those settings in place, you can see the subject cloud it presents in Chart 3. The term “collection” certainly stands out, and is a term that makes a lot of sense for the fashion industry.

Look at Chart 4 to see exactly how the term “collection” is being used in this industry.

Chart 4: Subject Analysis for “collection”.

For one, collection was used 166 times in 90 days, and used by all 10 brands. That’s a pretty dominant term, and really underscores one of the major ways fashion brands sell their products: in groups of items that go together. By grouping them together, the items have a lot more context — and more emotional appeal.

This is why you’ll see “lookbooks” on so many sites — they give the reader ideas about what to wear an individual item with, to build a complete look. The overall engagement rate may not be that high, because not everyone’s going to be attracted to every look. But this demonstrates something the fashion industry has learned over a long period — that’s it’s about context just as much as it is about a single item.

Tip: Anyone in fashion marketing can take away the value of putting items into outfits, or looks, not only on the mannequins in the window, but in your Facebook content, as well. Doing so not only asserts your own creativity in putting the outfits together, but also gives the reader the sense that there’s something more substantial on the other end of the click than just a single item. It’s a much richer content proposition.

What subjects are generating exceptionally high engagement?

Next, I’d like to look for terms that are generating unusually high engagement rates.

To do this, I’m going to restrict my view to subjects generating engagement at least 25 percent better than average. See the “Subject Explorer” results in Chart 5 below.

Chart 5: Subject Explorer for terms with average engagement rates 25 percent above the industry norm.

Note that the larger the terms, the more times it was used, and the darker the term, the higher the engagement.

In terms of engaging subjects that were used a lot, the subject “Cannes Film Festival” stands out. So let’s look at an analysis of the term “Cannes”.

Chart 6: Subject Analysis of “Cannes”.

You can see that at 35 posts (a very high count) the term still generated an engagement rate over 40 percent higher than the industry average. That’s impressive for that volume of posts.

Tying a fashion brand to a celebrated arts and entertainment event seems perfect for this industry. An event like Cannes is a luxury experience in and of itself, so for a fashion brand to put its product within that context makes perfect sense. By covering the event, the brand seems to take a sponsorship role, as if the brand is bringing you the best coverage from the event — as it relates to the brand personality, of course. Many of the brands’ fans may not even care about the film industry. But they know this event is important, and if the brand is represented there, then that can enhance the brand’s image.

Tip: Local luxury fashion merchants can take this practice to local events. Any local arts and entertainment event or festival is a likely center point for a collection of people their customers find both interesting and inspiring. And that’s a good place to put your brand in the middle of.

In Chart 6A, you can see the top-three most engaging posts about Cannes from this industry. Event content is easy to generate even if you just have a few decent event photos (and those can usually be acquired from photographers covering the event).

Chart 6A: Engaging fashion-related posts from Cannes.

Introducing new lines or collections

Seeing how major brands conduct their campaigns can give smaller companies a lot of insight into how they can construct their content calendar.

One major area of interest for any fashion brand, luxury or not, is the launch of seasonal looks. For example, how and when do different brands introduce their summer looks?

So let’s take a look at a Subject Analysis of the term “summer” for the months of April through June, which should provide a good time period for an assessment.

Chart 7: Subject Analysis of the term “summer”.

The first thing to note is both the high volume at which the subject “summer” appears, and that it’s closely tied to the term “collection” (certainly not a surprise).

However, looking at the posting calendar, you can see that it’s not until mid-May that brands really start hitting the subject heavily. I’ve always thought the fashion world promoted its wares far ahead of that schedule, but perhaps it’s the immediacy of online media that make it more viable to promote the items closer to the time when people will wear them. It could also be that people tend to do most things with less lead time now, as technology continues to compress timelines.

Next, let’s take a closer look at the content calendar of a couple brands, as well as the industry average (Chart 8).

Chart 8: Brand posting calendar for the subject “summer”.

Here, you can see the posting calendar for the subject “summer” for both Dolce & Gabbana (orange line) and Gucci (blue line), as well as the industry average (red line). This view again shows how the activity picks up in mid-May for both brands, as well as in the industry average view.

Takeaways for content marketers

The fashion industry is, in some respects, a content marketers dream, as consumers choose to spend significant amounts of their personal time perusing fashion content. Of course, this also creates a challenge in that there’s a lot of fashion content readily available to anyone interested, making it hard to stand apart.

The main challenge is then to find out what posting behavior will make your content as appealing as possible. Let’s review a few of our findings for the luxury fashion industry:

Find your optimal posting volume — keep in mind you’re not a newspaper. While the fashion industry generates strong engagement rates on the whole, there’s most likely a saturation point for how much you should be posting. Perhaps with a broader selection of merchandise, that posting volume could increase. But it’s important to realize that your content is probably more about the reader enjoying a periodic browsing excursion than something they need to be updated on throughout the day.

It’s not just what you’re selling, but how you package the items you’re selling. Fashion retailers selling a particular brand should monitor how that brand packages its collections. And of course, having a good sense of your local market, you can bring your own perspective to that, offering mixed-brand collections that only you will have put together.

Events can lift your brand or products, and give you time-efficient content. Photos of your merchandise at events that reflect your own brand can both add perceived value to your brand, and provide a good source of quick-to-produce, timely content. The fashion marketing world thrives on photos. Photos of your product at the right event speak volumes about your merchandise and the statement it makes about the buyer.

As we’ve seen in the content featured here, the fashion industry is deeply rooted in the world around us, which means there are ample opportunities to publish great, relevant content. For a baseline, most products or retailers have significant volumes of brand assets already developed for catalogs, advertisements, websites, etc. From there, photography of well-known people and popular events in any region can help generate quick content for brands and retailers of various business sizes.

On top of that, every three months, the entire brand gets a facelift in the form of new seasonal collections. Fashion brands should take this as inspiration to make their Facebook pages a paragon of engaging content.

Have you found any content strategies that are working well in the fashion industry? Do you see any other interesting points in the data posted here? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

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