Regret or trend set? Was Burberry's mass wipe of video a Kamikaze move?
We take a look at what happened when Burberry removed all brand video content and explore why unique strategies like these can be risky, but also successful.
In a bold move for any business consistently enjoying high audience engagement, global luxury brand Burberry removed or archived all content across its social channels during Q1 2023. Let’s look at what happened, explore why it’s an intelligent example of using video in business strategy, and reveal how leveraging brand reputation can achieve it.
Burberry is a brand that consistently place in the top five of Moving Image’s weekly Instagram Benchmark, which ranks top performers in the brand video sector. Video and image posts engage strongly with both core following and through-traffic each week. While it appears that Burberry do prioritise Instagram over Facebook, they also enjoy success over on LinkedIn, highlighted by our weekly LinkedIn Benchmark.
So, after removing all content from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in one fell swoop, you might be wondering: Why would the iconic brand fix what isn’t broken?
The answers may lie in Burberry’s online popularity and the recognisable characteristics linked to its brand.
GO YOUR OWN WAY
Shortly after Burberry took sweeping action towards its video collections, images and profile pictures were also depopulated leaving profiles deserted and online followers astonished. Those who promptly took to social media looking for answers from the company were disappointed as none came.
Removing all video content grabs attention, an unexpected move from a high fashion label where being seen is everything. But this is exactly why it works.
Since the beginning of 2023 Burberry have already attracted nearly half a million Likes from Instagram video posts, second highest after British footwear darling Dr Martens. It’s impressive, and a rapid ascent with an average of 21k Likes per post.
More impressive has been Burberry’s ability to maintain high Benchmark placement even after such a radical overhaul.
Where most brands would consider total media content wipeouts a sure-fire way to diminish brand engagement, Burberry’s strategy appears to deliver what their following have come to expect: innovation
ALL EYES ON ME
Burberry’s brand assets, and sales, are built upon an identity of luxury, colonising consumer imaginations with their exclusivity. They do things differently, creating a buzz as they go. Standing out from the crowd via exclusive products is what likely appeals to both their audiences and consumers. So, in this respect Burberry’s strategy makes perfect sense.
In a single move, the fashion powerhouse can again restate its creative approach to their online presence and simultaneously reinforce those elite brand values.
Let’s look at the data to shore up any such theory on successes.
The graph above, drawn from the Moving Image Data Suite, compares Burberry’s average Instagram Likes per video on the dark green line and the amount of videos posted during this period, as detailed by the light green bars. Week 5, occurring at the beginning of February, is the seven day period in which Burberry dissolved all content across its platforms.
The gaps between Weeks 5 and 8, and again between Weeks 8 and 11 where no video was uploaded, have been compressed both for efficiency and better visualisation of the 'Avg Likes' metric. What first seems clear is the resultant decrease in engagement since the company took action, as seen in the dramatic descent of the Avg Likes line.
But for perspective, let's compare Burberry’s audience engagement performance with that of a similarly successful brand in our weekly Benchmark, The Times.
Burberry’s highest average reactions sit at a little over 21k per post, whereas The Times gather ten times fewer average reactions at 2k. Although the two brands operate in different sectors, the data outlines how each derive engagement differently from posting on Instagram.
Although The Times post much more frequently than Burberry, it gains much less on average per post. In other words, all eyes are on Burberry in expectation of new video. For those interested in ROI per post, this is the place to start.
KNOWING YOUR WORTH AND HOLDING INTEREST
Measuring Likes against output is just one way to measure engagement, exploring the movement of a brands following can also deliver key insight. A loss of engagement with Likes doesn't always necessarily spell disaster.
The Times has a little over 1 million followers, 20 times less than that of Burberry. But no 2 brands' follower bases are the same. At the end of January 2023, days prior to ‘The Big Wipe’, Burberry had an Instagram following of 19,997,129. By the time of writing this article, having re-uploaded at least a few pieces to their account, Burberry’s following stands at 20,058,476. That’s an uptick in following of over 60k. Not bad for a brand who isn’t trying.
If The Times was to try a similar approach without careful planning, it's possible that strategy might prove disastrous, resulting in a rapid loss of followers. For it, no news would definitely not be good news. So knowing your brand’s stance, and ensuring that your audience also know it is key.
Although it's clear that the initial outage shook off some fair-weather followers, it seems Burberry's shock and awe tactics generated such significant buzz that their follower count climbed steeply without any content at all. Anticipation and hype can be a powerful engine in brand film.
On the one hand, Burberry's engagement has gone down over the period in question. But on the other hand, this decline hasn’t translated to a loss of following likely due in no small part to their styling of exclusivity as a brand. It's subtle insights like these that foreground the vast commercial and creative potential data brings to our field.
SUPPLY AND DEMAND
Burberry appear to have manufactured a gap, illustrating savvy control over supply and demand. A space has been opened up for public speculation and expectation. By creating waves around the removal of content from their platforms, they reintroduce new interest around it.
However, this approach isn’t for everyone, or every brand. It’s bold, and the risks are high.
It’s also unclear if Burberry’s actions relate to the arrival of new chief creative officer Daniel Lee, who's developing somewhat of a reputation for deleting social account content upon arriving at high value brands. Just as he did at Bottega Veneta in 2018.
What is clear is that Burberry’s engagement in Likes may have dipped for now, but its following continues to grow. Perhaps a strategy tailored and deftly delivered from up Daniel Lee's sleeve.
One thing’s for sure, it’s got people (and us) talking.
For a deeper dive into how UK brands use video on Instagram and LinkedIn, or book a demonstration of The Moving Image Data Suite that drives our analysis, click here.