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WATCHPRO WORKSHOP: Top tips for turning Instagram into a luxury storefront

London Jewelers Instagram

Well before Coronavirus shut down virtually all watch stores in the world, retailers and brands were having to master Instagram or face being left behind as more social media-savvy competitors attracted massive engaged audiences. Right now, with ecommerce and concierge services the only way to sell watches, using Instagram to promote your products and services and to close sales could be the difference between survival and oblivion.

If you are new to the platform, or just want a refresher on what’s working for the most connected brands and retailers, read on for our top tips for using Instagram to sell designer items effectively in 2020.

Contributed by Kayleigh Alexandra from MicroStartups, a social enterprise that provides advice to small businesses and charities in the United States.

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1. Consistently deliver value in your post and feed

One of the biggest concerns for high-end brands selling designer items on Instagram is the potential for a loss of brand status. Their consumer cachet is built on their sense of prestige, which validates the high-end price tags of their products.

But Instagram offers a way to actually increase a designer brand’s status by providing value.

Look at any successful brand Instagram account, and you’ll find that they all have one thing in common: their posts add value.

For designer brands, this value comes in a variety of forms, although it is reached in the same way — by giving your audience what they want. In this case, it’s giving customers a glimpse into a lifestyle they wish to imitate.

But looking beyond this, it’s also a chance to showcase the story behind your products, highlighting what makes them so valuable and justifying the price tag. Luxury brand Hermès does this beautifully:

The French brand frequently posts photos of its craftspeople working on its products, often using tight photos focusing on the hands at work to emphasize the love and care that goes into each piece.

Beyond showcasing your products, use Instagram to highlight the story behind the product. From the design stage through to production, give your audience a glimpse behind the veil. This emphasizes your designer exclusivity and increases your product’s (and brand’s) value into the process.

2. Maintain exclusivity through high-end visuals

Historically, many designer brands have been reluctant to adopt a presence on social media. This is largely due to the perceived high-end value of their brand. Social media implies democratization, and designer items are valuable because they are exclusive.

Today, however, many designer brands have embraced the value of social and are carefully crafting a presence on a number of platforms, Instagram in particular.

Instagram is a favorite for luxury brands because of its heavy emphasis on high-quality visuals.

Mosaics, in particular, are an effective method of conveying exclusivity, value, and aesthetics. Hermès provides another fine example of how mosaics can be used in this way:

Consider how each piece looks in relation to the other on your grid feed. Luxury and designer products demand an aesthetic medium, and mosaics offer

Beyond this, simply use similar types of images next to each other instead. For instance, a series of black-and-white photos from the same shoot echo each other and create beautiful visual synchronicity as a result. Use a social scheduling tool like Planoly to test this before publishing.

3. Seek growth in a natural, value-led way

Every brand that used Instagram as a sales tool needs growth. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling — without a growing follower count, your tactics are not working.

But for designer brands seeking to maintain exclusivity and retain their valuable brand, strategies for this are limited. There is no shortage of ways to build a significant following on Instagram, but not all will meet the goals of a designer brand.

User-generated content competitions, for instance, are good for a more general ecommerce audience but might detract from a designer brand’s exclusivity. The same applies for giveaways — handing out designer items as freebies reduces their value in the eyes of your high-end consumers.

Consequently, you should look for more value-led growth strategies to increase your Instagram follower count.

Influencers should naturally figure high on your list of priorities. But it’s important that the research stage of your strategy is on-point. You need to select the right influencer who aligns with your designer brand and echoes your style and aesthetic themselves.

In a similar vein, your content itself needs to be consistent. Most people won’t follow you based on one post, but on your collected past content (and what is implied you’ll post in the future). Strive for the value-led content outlined earlier in every post, and you’ll create a solid hook that draws new followers steadily in.

4. Use storytelling to place your products in a narrative

Storytelling is a powerful means of connecting with and engaging customers, especially on social. The weaving of a narrative around a brand or product gives it depth and life, giving it value beyond quality or price.

For brands looking to sell designer products on Instagram, storytelling should permeate every aspect of their strategy.

Take your product ads, for instance. These should eschew the typical product-only studio shots of mainstream ecommerce stories and instead opt for photos taken in natural settings (bars, restaurants, etc) with real models.

Naturally, videos offer more space for crafting a narrative around a product. But even a still image can convey a story, given the right setting, mood, and mise en scène — it implies a story rather than articulates it.

Consider this example from Gucci, below:

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A post shared by Gucci (@gucci) on

There’s a lot more in this photo than simply a watch. A phone call, exquisite style, a sea view, tinsel — the surrounding props imply a narrative to this photo, and it is this that captures your audience’s imagination and engages them with your designer product.

But storytelling can also spread beyond individual product ads or posts, extending to your feed as a whole. Consider including repeated props or themes throughout a series of posts, with each image telling one part of a wider story around your designer goods.

 

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Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder