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Earned Content Will Help Luxury Brands Gain Relevance in a Digital World

It is no secret that luxury brands are reluctant to try new new things. “Trendy” technologies – or any digital medium – must be tried and tested to gain even a shred of attention. Luxury brands frequently shroud themselves in mystery and intrigue, seemingly placing themselves just far enough out of reach to make the consumer yearn for more – a most calculated marketing strategy. But those that have turned a cheek away from the digital world all this time are now feeling the inescapable pull of social media and the outpouring of commentary and conversation from devoted fans online.

I recently spoke to New York Times reporter, Mark Scott (@markscott82), about how luxury brands are now starting to embrace the digital world and how platforms such as Instagram have opened a more ‘desirable’ door for these brands to begin participating. Our conversation quickly landed on the great opportunity brands have to create deeper more meaningful connections with consumers – especially younger consumers such as Millennials. This cohort of digital-first consumers are driving a world where authenticity is highly valued – as Mark puts it in his article, “at a time when consumers are increasingly turned off by traditional advertising.”

Mark did a great job highlighting the opportunity for luxury brands in his article in the New York Times titled “Luxury Brands and the Social Campaign,” and I was excited to see him quote my point of view on how consumers are changing, “People are now wired in a different way. They are used to seeing authenticity online. By embracing that, brands can build a stronger connection with consumers.”

Mark’s article went on to examine how specific luxury brands such as Burberry, have breathed new life into venerable names and are now considered among the most digitally innovative.

The Burberry example is a good one. In 2009 (pre Instagram) Burberry came up with the campaign “The Art of the Trench” showcasing street-style photography (done by professional photographers such as The Sartorialist). The aim of the content was to look homemade – and it resonated well with their consumer’s’ attraction to authenticity. Now, any brand could do the 2016 version of this campaign with authentic from Instagram, but the key to success is curation at scale. Burberry has the opportunity to take this iconic campaign to the next level by bringing the creativity of the Instagram community into the mix.

Among our own luxury customers, it is becoming clear that it is not just about the fact that brands are embracing new technology platforms to push out communications to consumers, but more about how brands are embracing the flood of content that is being created about them – for them.

The Rise of Earned Content

Marketers have understood the value of the Paid, Earned, Owned model for a while, but until recently, the use of all three was primarily focused on the distribution channels of media and not the content itself, where only Paid & Owned content have played a role. Today, there’s a new addition to the mix: Earned Content.

With 80 million photos a day being shared on Instagram alone, brands must develop digital content strategies that enable them to take advantage of this opportunity and leverage the content their consumers are creating because of an authentic affinity for the brand – content the brand is effectively earning. Earned content is more than another social media strategy, it is the beginning of a visual dialogue between a brand and its customers. It enables a connection with legitimate brand ambassadors on a 1-1 level that then drives brand loyalty and increased market share. When building earned content into broader marketing strategies brands must also keep in mind that curation is key to its success. Olapic has built the algorithms and moderation processes that provide full control over the content.

“With 80 million photos a day being shared on Instagram alone, brands must develop digital content strategies that enable them to take advantage of this opportunity and leverage the content their consumers are creating…”

The adoption of smartphones drove the inception and adoption of Instagram. We now have a world that is reconditioned to seeing more authentic imagery and brands that are harnessing the creation of this are building deeper more significant (not to mention more profitable) relationships with their target consumer. Not to mention tapping into a seemingly endless volume of fresh content – for free. Imagine what would you be able to do as a marketer if you had an unlimited stream of quality content coming your way.

Authenticity is changing marketing and earned content is the future of marketing.

Stay Tuned – Olapic will be providing more insights about the rise of earned content as we move into the New Year. We will share how marketers are using earned content and the impact it is; having on brand strategy and campaign success.

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