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3 Tips for Smart Navigation in Beauty Social Media Outreach

By: Sourabh Sharma
Posted: April 28, 2014, from the May 2014 issue of GCI Magazine.

The days of selling beauty solely on the aspirational promise of flawless skin, red carpet-ready makeup and supermodel looks are so 2005. All that changed when Facebook, a pioneer of social media marketing, came on the scene a decade ago.

The landscape of digital marketing and social media has evolved so rapidly it has become tricky for marketers to strategize ahead of time. Social media demands a brand’s marketing strategy extend beyond simple budgeting and planning to include adaptability, spontaneity and dynamic competitive insight. Some may still question the ROI of social media, to which brands like Aveda respond with, “Our overall social goal is not sales, instead we use it to create personal relationships.” Today, if a brand is only centered around a sales structure, it is missing out on the true value of social engagement.

It is critical to incorporate and mobilize consumers in ways that make them feel part of the beauty process, rather than on the receiving end of it. It comes as no surprise that the face of the marketing function has changed, and there is no better time than now to brush up your social media marketing tool kit to ensure you aren’t falling behind your very own product users. After all, it’s all about understanding your consumers.

Keep It Easy on the Eyes to Engage the Audience

Smart brands have learned to maintain an engaged—rather than simply a large—following, particularly in an age when you can buy Twitter and Facebook followers. Facilitating discussion is a two-way street, and it is much more effective for brand equity than simply accumulating a large volume of fans that do not interact with a brand. Hosting a live chat on Philosophy’s Facebook page with Philosophy’s senior director of on-air media and leadership development Heidi Guest or interacting with product Q&A on Clinique’s page are examples of solid engagement.

One easy tip, particularly with skin care and beauty, is to keep it visual. Let’s face it, for an average consumer in a bustling world of infinite scrolling, seeing is faster and easier than reading. Photos reportedly get 50% more interaction than other content, 10 times more shares and seven times more likes. Many beauty brands are already capitalizing on user-generated visuals. Origins features viral before-and-after photos, and Clinique maintains a visually empowered Q&A portal and constructive feedback exchange. And Shiseido uses Facebook to encourage Instagram users to post selfies with favorite products, along with relevant hashtags.

Beyond still images, video is poised to revolutionize the way consumers share. While video has traditionally been used in skin care for testimonials, demonstrations or advertising, Instagram and Vine are enabling viral marketing and personal sharing, respectively. Even Snapchat has enabled video, and Facebook continues to improve its video platforms, making video the next “it” platform for marketers to tap into. As such, marketers are increasingly launching video contests, viral 15-second ads, and clippings of commercials and products that entice viewers to view more.

Maybelline launched a two-minute viral video ,“#TopChicret – Announcing Charlotte Free as New Face of #1 Cosmetic Brand in the World,” to raise awareness on its face of the year, a tactic that, in today’s world, could easily be promoted in the six- to 15-second time frame. Further, Maybelline hosts contests via Instagram video, effectively cross-platforming and asking its fans to tweet a winter selfie hashtagged #DrRescueMe to win its Baby Lips Dr. Rescue Line, accompanied by an effective and fun 15-second video.

Execute Consistent Yet Customized Cross-platform Messaging

No two social platforms are the same, and your strategy for each of them should reflect that reality. Twitter is a 140-character text medium ideally suited for replies to fans, promotions with links and hashtags for virality. Pinterest brings the visuals to life, with little room for inserting marketing links. All that said, Branding 101 tells marketers you need to have a consistent thread running through all your marketing mediums.

The key is to ensure brand cohesiveness across platforms by using them as different outlets for the same story. You can share content across channels (tweet your pins, pin your Instagrams, etc.), which is the simplest way to ensure consistency.

When Clinique launched its Chubby Stick color lip balms, the tagline “Make someone smile” and the ad were on Pinterest, but the Facebook page had a longer claim and reason-to-believe statement, mentioning Pantone and including a link: “Lips speak volumes when they’re wearing Pantone’s Color of the Year; Go sheer or intense in these Radiant Orchid-inspired Chubby Stick shades.” On Twitter, Clinique merely placed a season-specific photo of their product. Three strategies, three platforms but one product launch. Similarly, Urban Decay frequently syncs its tweets with its Facebook posts. For example, it called for New Year’s resolutions from fans and followers, all while sharing product tips and ideas.

Consumer segmentation can be a useful guide for which content to leverage on which platforms, because it can indicate how consumers respond to and think about brand perceptions in different channels.