Exclusive brands steer clear of egalitarian social media

Brands and businesses have stampeded the social media universe, with corporate Facebook pages, company Twitter accounts and a LinkedIn presence becoming de rigueur for many.

Brands and businesses have stampeded the social media universe, with corporate Facebook pages, company Twitter accounts and a LinkedIn presence becoming de rigueur for many.

But are there some sectors where intense online engagement makes bad business sense?

Luxury brands have been chary about instigating social media conversations with the masses.

The Australian head of affinity marketing organisation The Luxury Network, Lynne Wyatt, says it's part of a strategy of maintaining exclusivity that's at odds with the egalitarian interactions of Facebook and Twitter.

By contrast, mass market brands have seized on social media as a means of locking in large groups of customers. Leisurewear retailer Lorna Jane is active on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest and boasts 40,000 Facebook "interactions" a week.

But Ms Wyatt says luxury brands don't want the masses. "They don't do anything that undermines what they've spent multimillions building up. There's a lot on the line, especially with global, highly revered brands."

Premium winemaker Henschke, whose offerings range from $30 reds to the $600 flagship shiraz, Hill of Grace, has a toe in the water. The winery views Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as positioning tools, rather than a channel for dealing directly with customers, Henschke business development manager Elaine Millar says.

"We do see social media as an important part of the communication puzzle.If you just communicate in the same way with the same demographic, you lose the next generation," she says.

Enthusiasm is also tempered with caution in the professional services.

Kinship Digital general manager Raz Chorev says doctors, lawyers and financial advisers were wary of online engagement with clients because of regulatory constraints. Doctors have been especially slow adopters - for primarily practical reasons, Mr Chorev believes.

"They're not in front of a computer all day - they're either in an operating suite, or attending to a steady stream of patients and writing reports."

But the chairman of the AMA Council of Doctors in Training, obstetrics registrar Will Milford, says that will change. Use will increase as more tech-savvy

young medicos rise through the ranks, he says.

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