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Becoming an Engagement Brand

Katja Bartholmess and Ron Robinson
  • Social media has made it possible for beauty brands to become an integral part of consumers’ lives, but brand owners must be prepared to make a commitment to it.
  • Creating a real persona and voice for your brand, with opinions and values similar to those of your customers, prompts better engagement.
  • Share with your customers and give them an opportunity to share with your brand. The more you share together, the more you connect.
  • Be prepared for potential criticism as well, and also use this type of consumer feedback to better your brand.

Maintaining a social media presence has become a necessity for beauty brands big and small, indie and corporate, domestic and international—basically, everyone. And while the article “Learning Social Media’s Lessons” from the September 2011 issue of GCI magazine explored concrete examples of social media practices that have been proven to work for different beauty categories, now we will encourage beauty brands to take a good look at their social media efforts and evaluate them for best effect.

It’s time to determine whether you are ready to do more than just dip your toe into the social media experience, going beyond merely setting up a Twitter account and a Facebook page and posting a promotional link once in a while, to become an engagement brand. To do so is to fully immerse your brand and its ideas in the social media sphere, creating something that is instantly recognizable and maintains an authentic identity.

Leveraging and utilizing the opportunities the technologies around social media have to offer is imperative in becoming an engagement brand. Really, an engagement brand is one that sees communication with the consumers as an exciting two-way street where listening to what is being said to you and about your brand is at least as important as—and likely more important than—what brand managers have to say.

Beginning the Evolution

For a start, stop using the somewhat detached voice often used in traditional marketing and advertising. Instead, let your brand speak with a human voice and have an opinion about a set of topics that are aligned with your brand’s DNA.

To engage with your consumers successfully, you need to know what truly resonates with them and what they respond to most positively. Canvassing the community, which has nearly 50,000 members interested in topics on skin care, hair care and makeup, we discovered several topics beauty brands can engage customers and consumers (through methods as simple as asking or answering questions) and encourage them to participate in events and activities, comment on stories and news, add “likes” on Facebook, re-tweet pertinent (or sometimes just fun) tweets, and so on.

Know What Matters to Your Consumer

Here’s an overview of what the surveyed community members found particularly important.

Consumers appreciate—and, now more than ever, even expect—responsiveness. One member said about a beauty brand she interacts with on a regular level, “They always answer all my makeup and skin care questions and respond to everyone quickly.” Being an engagement brand means if a follower or fan takes the time to say something about your brand—even if it’s not particularly flattering—someone should take the time to respond.

Consumers also want their beauty brands to stand for something. And, increasingly, consumers want brands to be dedicated to a good cause—be it environmental protection, social fairness, animal rights or something else—they feel strongly about as well. It shows consumers you are on the same side they are and that they are giving their loyalty and money to a brand with a conscience.

And consumers want to matter. When you ask your followers and fans to share their opinions or contribute photos and other creative materials, make sure you know and communicate what you’re planning to do with the input. Your followers and fans will become increasingly dedicated and loyal when they feel they are really participating in the development and betterment of “their” beauty brand.

Full Engagement

Are you ready for full-on social media engagement? To find out, ask yourself these questions.

  • Do you fully believe a social media strategy built around full engagement can make a difference in your beauty brand’s future?
  • Do you enjoy exploring and critically assessing the possibilities of new social technologies?
  • Are you willing to dedicate time and resources to building and maintaining a social identity?
  • Can you take it when consumers use your social platforms to share criticism of your brand and its products?
  • Do you trust your customers enough to seriously take what they tell you into consideration?

If you can answer “yes” to all or most of these questions, it’s likely time for you to pull out all the stops and enter full social media immersion mode. While there might be bumps, there will also likely be more encouraging successes. So go ahead and jump. It’s time to be engaged.

Katja Bartholmess is the co-founder of brand incubator The Brooklyn Family, which crystallizes and realizes brand and business opportunities to successfully launch and grow brands that soar and sell. She also owns boutique branding strategy firm CopyGold. A German native, she has worked and lived in Berlin, London, Pretoria, Tokyo, New York and utilizes her savvy international outlook to connect brands and audiences across the globe.

Ron Robinson is the founder and CEO of, an online beauty community and social media agency that reaches more than 20 million consumers. He is a veteran product development executive who has worked for leading beauty companies, including The Estée Lauder Companies, Avon Products and Revlon Products. He currently works with beauty brands, retailers and agencies to connect them to the BeautyStat community for online PR events, sponsored content and rich consumer insights.

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