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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.

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A skin care study by SKIM showed largely “talked about” brands like Clinique and L’Oréal Paris had positive perceptions, while those for Aveeno and Dove could be improved. But even these insights varied by platform. Brand loyalists may be more in sync with Twitter, while new users may enter via Facebook. For example, Origins shares non-brand related content via Facebook, such as a reminder to switch off lights for Earth Hour. But on Twitter, it talks of supporting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation with a BCA Drink Up lip balm, combined with a purchase link. The tonality and messages are similar, but the strategies are distinct.

Essentially, it’s about building a community, both overall for your brand and then per platform if you notice differences in audience behavior. Me Bath! refers to its fans as MBAs, a whimsical term considering its alternate acronym. A recent Facebook post from the brand suggests this name was also picked by fans, an effective use of crowdsourcing and engagement: “A long time ago we had YOU, our fans, ‘name’ themselves. They chose MBA’s ‘ME! Bath Addicts’ because they are smart, sophisticated, and fun! Thank you all for being such wonderful fans.”

And Urban Decay refers to its followers as UDers, with an apt tone of voice: “What are you rockin’ UDers?” The modern consumer is interested in having a sense of belonging to a brand and in sharing their thoughts and ideas.

Social is Not Sales

The final point is that social media is not exclusively a sales channel. Sure, you can promote new product launches or sales via social media, but they should not be the only focus. Recall that the key is engagement, which is a two-way street. When drawing a blank on what to put on a brand’s social platform besides a sales pitch, the best idea is to pose closed questions so that consumers don’t respond in prose. According to Hubspot, “Questions beginning with the words ‘should,’ ‘would,’ ‘which,’ and ‘who’ are the most effective for receiving more engagement.” If consumers can respond with images, it works even better.

The key to such updates on social platforms is to keep them short, relevant and enticing. While Twitter restricts lengths to 140 characters, there also is no reason to go long on Pinterest, Instagram captions, or Facebook. A short post can also be enlightening, like Shiseido describing what “Ibuki” means in Japanese: “inner strength, renewal, resilient enough to endure and emerge beautiful.” This is brief and inspiring, and it ties in well to the brand name and identity.

To entice product fans and aspirants, engagement tactics like contests or simple cheeky humor can do the trick. Ole Henriksen features popular “complete the sentence” or “caption the photo” contests on its Facebook page. This makes fans seem part of a marketing team, which fosters engagement and loyalty even further. For humor, relevance is also important. Origins calls consumers with puffed eyes “puffy peepers,” a nod to its No Puffery product, the formula of which got “tricked out of the tube and into a cooling roll-on” per Facebook. Humor personifies a brand further, adding a human element that makes it more relatable to consumers.

Overall, when talking on social media, brands must be honest. While there are many tips on engagement and frequency of posting, metrics and research, it is critical to be true to a brand’s roots, tone of voice and style, and to ensure consistency with traditional forms of communication. In the end, social media is just another platform to communicate with consumers, almost like extension of TV and print—just more dynamic and exponentially growing.

Sourabh Sharma comes to SKIM with a keen eye for understanding consumer behavior. He adds perspective to marketing research from his years in brand management and product development at L’Oréal, where he launched hair color and makeup products for brands in Asia and North America. His work there allowed him to file for multiple patents and present a new technology at symposiums focusing on beauty. He built on this with his work in strategy consulting in the consumer sector, which allowed him to broaden his understanding of the beauty industry. With a multifaceted background, having earned degrees in engineering and marketing and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the Rotterdam School of Management, Sharma enables the firms he works with to acquire a stronger understanding of their end users. Furthermore, he strives to extract value from the evolving brand-to-consumer interface through his work in social media research.