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Learning Social Media’s Lessons

By: Katja Bartholmess and Ron Robinson
Posted: August 31, 2011, from the September 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Here’s the scenario in 2011:

Beauty brands are learning social media’s lessons. Or, as Kristen Yraola, director digital media and Internet at Maybelline, so aptly said at an event on beauty and social media* organized by CEW: “Digital and social is like a new, foreign language. You have to learn how to say ‘Thank you,’ ‘please’ and ‘Where can I find the bathroom?’ ”

But taking the time to learn this new language is not merely worthwhile—it’s going to be a key factor for every beauty brand’s success, no matter how large, indie or prestige the brand may be. The percentage of time Americans are spending online has more than doubled over the past few years, while time spent on other communication channels has dropped or remained flat. Concurrent with the rapid increase in the time spent online, there has been a dramatic rise of time spent on social media channels. Today, social networking is the number one online activity, with people spending more than six and a half times the amount of time on social media as they do on Internet searches. And it’s not simply about quantity of time, it is also the degree of influence that social media possesses for consumers in their purchasing decisions. What’s most important for beauty brands is that women are said to account for 84% of the activity on social networking sites. Let’s use the opportunity and really engage with them.

Marisa Thalberg, vice president of global digital marketing, The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc, told a CEW audience* that beauty is prone to being successful in the realm of social media because women are really passionate about their beauty products and beauty and skin care in general. Opinions are strong and consumers are open to, if not downright eager to, share. Case in point: In the two years since the Estée Lauder websites opened up to invite reviews, more than 200,000 consumers shared their thoughts and opinions about certain products.

What’s Working for Beauty Brands

A “one size fits all” approach has never been the key to success. Luckily, the social media arena holds many options for successfully interacting with consumers and advocates.