Spontaneous and fleeting storytelling with Snapchat

Making us dream is part of luxury brands’ DNA. Their ads are conceived to trigger aspirations or emotions, and you end up endlessly idealizing the brand. These brands mostly leveraged traditional ads for a long time: print ads, billboards, TV spots… Then came the digital age and ads were popping on your favorite websites, especially as targeting techniques became more and more efficient. Social media were then yet another tool to promote brands’ messages.

Today, we are super-connected – so connected that it’s nearly as if we had a sort of digital “transplant” to our hand. Smartphones are kings. Obviously, pop-up ads are extremely annoying and having a 15-second spot of my favorite luxury brand wouldn’t make me happy when I’m opening an app. Social media help, as brands can post there – and Instagram is helping them push visual contents where customers are expecting – and enjoying – them. Still, non-spontaneous visuals are not enough to make a digital-savvy customer excited about a brand for long.

Valentino snapchat during the Paris Fashion Week preperation

Valentino snapchat during the Paris Fashion Week preperation

Communication apps are multiplying and new features come up. Brands are more and more welcome by apps to reach customers on their messaging channels. Line did it, and Snapchat, too. The big difference with Snapchat – as I’m guessing you know – is that contents are taken spontaneously (you can’t really edit them) and are fleeting (they usually last 10 seconds). Given these constraints, some luxury brands have decided to make the most out of the app and share some behind-the-scenes moments with their customers, as well as creating an exclusive customer experience on their smartphones. Valentino and Michael Kors did so during the fashion weeks. Snapchats are therefore a great way to share some extracts of a fashion brand’s preparation for a show. It’s applicable to any luxury industry I believe, as long as brands have a story to tell.

The main point I believe makes Snapchat such a great channel is that it’s usually a channel to connect with friends, and not many luxury brands use it. It’s probably one of the most appropriate tools at the moment to engage with customers as would a real person. It’s most effective when brands are targeting millenials, among which Snapchat has the highest penetration, and it allows brands to use a language they might not overtly use on more serious social media posts (e.g. using emojis millenials enjoy).

Celebrities everywhere: why models and brands post the same things

Every time I check my Instagram feed, I feel like I’m following celebrities rather than brands. I guess Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are helping me stay up-to-date with the who’s who of luxury. The fact that brands would give so much weight to models and other famous people on their social media channels made me wonder if it would be so much different to follow celebrities instead of brands. So I tried.

The main difference I felt is that celebrities share their daily life, which is punctuated by partnerships with brands – while brands promote products on their own or items worn by an A-lister.

This little experiment means I now have to scroll through much more content to get to what I’m looking for: the success of posts that include brands. Because some celebrities, including top models, have a lot more followers and fans than brands, their posts are usually far more successful (I’m defining success by the usual likes, retweets, regrams, comments, etc.) than those of brands. This explains why you may see (almost) the same picture on different accounts, and even more so if you’re following brands and celebrities on multiple channels.

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Remember I was saying top models have more followers than brands? Well, not exactly. Some do, others don’t. It really depends on the popularity of both brands and celebrities. If you take Instagram, Michael Kors has more than 3 million followers, Sonia Rykiel has nearly 60 million and Isabel Marant 400 thousand. Karlie Kloss has more than 2 million followers while Georgia May Jagger has about 600 thousand. What seems to be true, however, is the fact the fans engage more with stars than with brands. A picture from Karlie Kloss during the New York Fashion Week (click on the picture above), and a very similar one from Michael Kors (click on the picture below) got different results: the model got a stronger engagement with more likes than the brand, while Karlie Kloss has less followers.

This, of course, explains why duplications often happen and ensure brands and celebrities maximum visibility while it helps them to create a community of fans that feels connected to the brand (or celebrity). It’s also a good thing to know so that you don’t lose your mind when you get this feeling of déja-vu!

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Takeaway lessons from Longchamp’s partnership with InStyle

Branded content is tricky. You want to build a stronger, closer connection with your customers while delivering content that is valuable to them. You want to stay away from simple advertising disguised as actual content but you also want your brand to be remembered and the content to fit your brand’s DNA.

Longchamp recently partnered with US magazine InStyle to feature a story on their website. With a video realized by InStyle Studio and an article written by the magazine’s staff, clearly mentioning the partnership with the brand, this operation shows efforts of transparency … This reinforces the impact of the sponsored content. Here are a few things Longchamp nailed with this article, released online on February 17th, 2015.

1. FIND THE RIGHT PARTNER

Knowing your audience is key to delivering the right, most catchy content to them. Longchamp is very successful in North America, hence it partnering with one of the most read American women’s magazine. InStyle’s website is dynamic and attracting lots of fashion-focused visitors. Longchamp can only benefit from such exposure on InStyle.com.

2. TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Longchamp didn’t just seize an opportunity for native advertising. The brand waited for a time when InStyle.com gets even more daily visits than usual: the New York Fashion Week (February 12 – February 19, 2015). This is a time when the website lives at its fullest, with articles posted everyday about fashion shows, street-styles, front rows, etc. Traffic is stronger than normally, which increases the likelihood of visitors reading the article about the brand, and thereby improve brand awareness. That is, if the article isn’t drowned by Fashion Week articles. Which is why it was smart to release the article at the end of the week, a little bit after the rush.

Video still from Longchamp x InStyle Studio

Video still from Longchamp x InStyle Studio

3. KEEP IT SIMPLE

Longchamp’s collaboration with InStyle embraces simplicity. There is one video, showing accessories worn in the streets of New York, throughout the character’s day. The emphasis is put on the items, which reminds us of Longchamp’s 2011 web-series “Heels” (in partnership with online magazine AuFeminin.com).

The article itself is simple as well: it’s short and clearly states that Longchamp purses are what you need to face your busy New Yorker life with style. This straightforwardness is just what the reader needs to be set in a positive mindset about what comes next.

4. EMBRACE CTAs

The article gives more space to the items than to words. Pictures speak for themselves and visitors are shown the accessories from the video to support the following point: Longchamp accessories are practical and stylish, therefore adapted to your lifestyle. Each item picture is followed by the item’s information (name and price) and a call-to-action button to shop directly on the company’s e-commerce site.

There you have it: 4 simple elements that helped Longchamp succeed with branded content.