By: Lia Carnes
Is there a difference in how luxury brands influence customer engagement compared to non-luxury? The short answer is no. While luxury brand names are influential, the name does not make the cut. There are five dimensions that industry practitioners should keep in mind while posting: entertainment, interaction, trendiness, customization, and word of mouth (Liu et al., 2021). Besides the dimensions, remember it’s not all about the brand; it’s about how the content can benefit the customer. Let’s dive deeper on how social media content influences consumer behavior by Liu et al. (2021).
Online Customer Engagement Behavior
There are three types of online customer engagement behavior, a.k.a, customer activeness. Consumption, being the least active, consists of individuals who primarily scroll and read the content. Contribution is those who are moderately active. This category encompasses those who will like, comment, or share on their platforms or with others. Creation is the most active group. They will go on to make user-generated content (UGC) or write reviews relating to the company that posted (Liu et al., 2021). While the luxury brand’s name can influence each type of customer behavior, the five dimensions discussed below are the primary reason for one’s engagement behavior.
In social media, entertainment encompasses all the motivators that would push consumers to create their own UGC. No matter a luxury or non-luxury brand, the social media coordinator will want to post interesting, amusing, and fun content. Keeping the brand image light and fun will make consumers more willing to interact with them and share on their personal platforms (Liu et al., 2021). Nowadays, coordinators are equally interested in keeping their brand image engaging while figuring out how to become viral.
Interaction with consumers is vital to the social media world; it requires presence and allows collaboration between others. What’s more exciting than a verified brand seeing your comment and responding? It makes us want to keep interacting and spending time on that brand’s profile. Interaction with a brand will make us more inclined, as consumers, to continually like and share that brand’s content. A brand that only posts and never interacts with its followers, shares their content, or other companies’ content will be overlooked (Liu et al., 2021).
Trendiness focuses on how in tune the brand is with recent trends. Recently, social media consumers have found online information more trustworthy than listening to the news or press releases (Liu et al., 2021). The social media platform, TikTok, is becoming both a source of entertainment and a search engine. We look to brands to decide what we want to consume, purchase, etc. We want immediate information rather than waiting a few days for an article to be published. If there’s a crisis and something goes viral for the wrong reasons, consumers will constantly be refreshing that brand’s profiles on all platforms (Liu et al., 2021). They want the most up-to-date information and believe that social media will be the most truthful.
Unlike a newspaper, brands can customize their social media however they want. They find their demographic and tailor their profiles to reach that specific audience. Consumers can follow any social media account they want to (Liu et al., 2021). They follow people they know, who they’re interested in, and who could pique their interest. Creating a profile that’s specific to the desired audience will have more success than one that tries to mass produce content for a general population (Liu et al., 2021).
Word of Mouth
Word-of-mouth encompasses the three customer engagement behaviors mentioned above, consumption, contribution, and creation. Word-of-mouth combines the previous four dimensions into one; it’s a behavior as a response to the other four. Word of mouth is the consumers’ willingness to share information from one brand to another or their profile. They can be a part of consumption and read the content, or they can be part of creation and use elements of the social media post and add it to their blog (Liu et al., 2021).
Gucci vs. Duolingo
Looking at TikTok, the viral video-sharing app, we’ll see an example of all these dimensions in action and how luxury brands fail compared to non-luxury. As of March 18, 2023, the luxury brand Gucci has 2.9 million followers, and Duolingo, the language learning app, has 6.3 million followers. Looking at Gucci’s profile, it’s apparent that they customize their account to their audience; it’s a specific, tailored look. While it looks polished, they don’t follow trends, interact with followers, and are primarily entertaining to its particular audience. Compared to Duolingo, their owl mascot dances to trending sounds and replies to smaller accounts and other brands. “In a little over a year, the language-learning app has attracted more than 4 million followers on TikTok with its playful passive aggression” (Honigman, 2022). Duolingo isn’t only successful because of its passive aggressiveness, but the content is funny and entertaining, boosting customer engagement. It gives consumers something to talk about.
Regarding customer engagement, luxury brands’ social media content is no different from non-luxury brands. Yes, the name has appeal and gets attention, but it’s more focused on the dimensions talked about. Can a company do well without having that brand name and verification symbol? Yes. It must focus on sharing trending and exciting content that makes its consumers want to follow them and engage with the brand. They want to find their target audience and tailor their account toward them. Doing so gives them a specific audience to interact with, presenting the consumer with the potential excitement of being recognized and can lead to word-of-mouth marketing. Using these five dimensions as an industry practitioner will help move those utilizing consumption behavior to creation.