Glossier started as a blog. Sephora got more than 15,000 applications for it’s influencer incubator. Jeffree Star has more than 18 million followers on YouTube.
Noticing a trend? The biggest brands in beauty have developed huge communities, bordering on cult followings.
Now, you may not get there overnight, but with the accessibility of platforms like Instagram, YouTube – and yes, even TikTok – anyone can participate and contribute to the beauty community. In order to truly connect and engage with customers, digital strategies for a beauty brand should tap into their customer’s innate desire to build strong connections with their favorite brands and influencers.
Keep reading for six social strategies beauty brands can use to build up their virtual communities.
1. Create a Beauty Community
Glossier, which bloomed seemingly overnight from a side project to a full-fledged brand, is a pillar of minimalist beauty. Founder Emily Weiss launched her beauty blog, Into The Gloss, in 2010 and reverse engineered her brand – learning what resonates with skincare and beauty enthusiasts for four years before even attempting to bring a product to market. Needless to say, the investment paid off.
Glossier may have started as a blog, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only formula for success. Chances are you already have an endless supply of knowledge when it comes to the kind of questions your customers are asking and the goals they’re trying to achieve with their skincare and beauty routines (feel free to thank your customer service teams).
If you haven’t started a blog, now is the perfect time to invest in on-site content. Start by sifting through the questions you get asked the most and repurposing them as a how-to or informative post.
Sephora has undoubtedly been a leader in this category with its Beauty Insider Community section on site, which allows visitors to create profiles, submit questions to industry experts, chat with their fellow members and share their own feedback on specific products.
Benefit launched a similar section, called Beauty Banter, which touts Q&As with beauty experts, tutorials from influencers and even spotlights specific fans, which Benefit calls “benebabes.” Benefit has Beauty Banter, Milk Makeup has Vibes, and Versed has their Good Skin Blog. This is a great place to showcase your team’s expertise.
2. Spread the Love on Social
Social media plays an integral role in the lives of customers. Consumers tap into social networks multiple times throughout the day to like posts, snap images, pin inspiration and so much more.
Given the current regulations for social distancing, a majority of people are discovering new products to sample via online reviews and blogs. Socially savvy consumers are consistently checking on the latest trends and developments in the beauty community.
At the moment, the most valuable part of social media is the fact that consumers are staying connected with friends, family and like-minded peers from all over the world – from the comfort and safety of their home. So, don’t miss the opportunity to capitalize on it.
Consider New Social Channels
When it comes to social media, beauty lovers don’t discriminate. Although these consumers gravitate to different social networks for different purposes (think Pinterest for DIY ideas or fashion inspiration), they have accounts on a variety of channels and tend to hop between them throughout the day.
As a result, beauty brands should keep a pulse on the social media space, and consider how new platforms may fit into their overall digital marketing strategy. Consider the success Elf Cosmetics had with their #EyesLipsFace TikTok campaign. Videos tagged with #EyesLipsFace have garnered over 1.2 billion views, collectively.
@cameronpulidoMe whenever i get ready and I’m feeling myself ##eyeslipsface ##ad @elfcosmetics♬ Eyes. Lips. Face. (e.l.f.) – iLL Wayno
Above all, you should think of creative ways to promote your presence and drive engagement across these different platforms.
It might go without saying, but having a presence on Instagram is one of the most crucial – and easiest – aspects of building a community.
From IG Live to polling your followers, there’s no shortage of ways to engage with your audience. New this-or-that and question templates provide a fun, interactive way for your audience to interact with you on a personal level. Take Chella’s Cinco De Make-up poll for example.
Re-posting submissions lets followers know you’re paying attention and you’re interested in what they have to say. You can create story posts like this one at Canva (Not a designer? Ain’t no thing. There are plenty of great templates, so you don’t need to start from scratch).
Instagram is also a great place to repurpose great user generated content (UGC) you’ve collected over time. Alastin Skincare invited customers to share their #alastinshelfies, which were then featured on their instagram page. UGC can be repurposed in many other marketing streams, from email to product pages.
You should take advantage of all of Instagram’s offerings, from IGTV to Instagram Live, as screen time is up at the moment. Hosting AMAs, Q&As, or live discussions is a great way to have a face-to-face, heart-to-heart with thousands of followers at a time.
Beauty bloggers such as Michelle Phan have turned YouTube into a go-to destination for beauty tutorials and even product reviews. Rather than just hoping these top beauty bloggers and influencers mention your brand, you can take control of the situation by creating a branded YouTube page.
Charlotte Tilbury has a dedicated YouTube channel where Charlotte herself (who is basically a knight) walks viewers through her most iconic looks and new product launches.
Interviews and how-tos are a great way to show customers how they can get the most value out of beauty products and partake in the latest trends. And these videos don’t have to be feature length films; even a five minute video can pack a powerful punch, as long as you provide actionable advice and provide a concise overview of which products to use and when.
Don’t have the time or bandwidth to start a YouTube account? Ask someone from your social team to take short videos on their smartphone and upload them to your social streams. Nowadays, a lot of the content on social media is scrappy, shot-from-the-couch footage that feels authentic and inviting.
3. Get Them Excited about Your Products
Birchbox is one of several leading innovative beauty brands riding the subscription trend. Each month, subscribers to their Beauty Box receive five beauty samples – tailored to the preferences set in their Profile. Items can include makeup, skincare, hair products and beauty tools.
The best part about Birchbox’s approach, though, are the points awarded to subscribers for their input on the products they receive. The Beauty Box subscribers got the exclusive chance to try new products and share their feedback with the brand. Birchbox tied all this back to its social strategy, using channels like Instagram to get followers excited about new, seasonal boxes and all the great treats they’d be receiving. Big names like Allure and Macy’s have also hopped on the beauty box trend.
How can you apply this without launching a full-blown subscription service? Use social images, posts and email campaigns to share photos and details about new product releases or offerings, and where loyal customers can find your products in exclusive packages, like the Sephora Favorites kits. This is a great way to keep your customers in the loop and get them excited about what’s to come from your brand. And like we said earlier, beauty lovers are always sharing content and information with their friends, so taking this approach increases the likelihood that your followers will spread the word.
4. Make Them Laugh
Some say laughter is the best medicine, but it can also be a powerful marketing tactic. This is especially true if you’re trying to connect with a specific demographic, like millennials, who have grown up finding and sharing Internet memes and obsessing over College Humor videos.
Take for example, Fenty Beauty’s 2017 launch. Rihanna and her Killawatt highlighters immediately sent the world into a tizzy, clamouring for products that seemed to be sold out instantly. Memes about their availability popped up everywhere, and it resonated well.
Fenty Beauty carries on the trend to this day.
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As this example shows, it’s okay to push the limits as long as the content is relevant to your industry. Before you post a funny meme or video, ask yourself: How is this relevant to our target customer? Will they be confused if they see this post coming from our brand? If it all makes sense, post away! Sometimes, you have to put the marketing messaging on the back burner, and just have some fun.
5. Show Them the Swatch!
How many times have you seen someone drawing eyeliner on her hand to test the color? How many times have you seen a shopper scribble on their arm to test the texture, depth, and finish of different lipsticks?
The beauty ecommerce market is growing, but there are some elements of the in-store shopping experience that can get lost in a digital world (this is of particular importance as beauty ecommerce sales continue to rise during global lockdown).
The “swatch” is one of them. Even when brands show the actual colors of certain products on their ecommerce site, it can be hard to determine how specific shades will translate to different skin tones as well as the nuances between colors. Taking photos of different color swatches gives prospective buyers the perfect view of how products look “in the act.”
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Take cues from Pat McGrath Labs and use social media to connect with these shoppers, and share swatches when product lines are in development or newly released. This is a simple yet powerful way to build excitement and drive shopper action (don’t know about you, but we could stare at this for days).
Or, combine the simplicity of a blog with the power of film by hosting a page on your website with short and sweet instructional videos. Anastasia Beverly Hills has an entire How To page on their website with links to every product. Pat McGrath Labs also has Labs.TV, where short clips posted on Instagram are repurposed as how-tos.
6. Show How Your Brand Fits Into Their Lifestyle
This may be the most important thing to remember when it comes to engaging your customers.
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Sephora recently invited long time fans and loyal customers to join their #SephoraSquad – a hybrid between an influencer community and loyalty program. Sephora received 15,000 applications in 2019 alone and we don’t see the numbers stopping there.
By simply maintaining presence on social media and asking customers to grow and create with you, you’ll see the makings of your own #squad in no time. Today’s beauty enthusiasts have grown up consuming digital media, so they know when they’re being sold to. Turn the old-school approach to marketing on its head by making your products a small – but meaningful – part of their everyday lives.
Show how your fans, followers and even influencers use your products and the role your brand plays in their day-to-day life.
Today’s beauty consumers are constantly connected and want to be in the loop with the latest news and product releases from their favorite brands. You can give your customers the news, information and content they crave by applying some of these social media strategy best practices for beauty brands. When you do, you’ll be able to build your own thriving community of fans and followers alike.