The Emotional Engagement Factor


The sheer difference in how much time a consumer spends on their phone versus at a department store is staggering. And this alone should dictate how communications and messaging should be distinct for social media messaging versus product claims.

Traditional marketing always instills having a clear and unique selling point, a well-substantiated and quantified point of difference and an aspirational selling point that borders both desire and humor in balancing ways. However, with shrinking attention spans, scrollable feeds and sponsored content flooding mobile phones and visuals alike, it is now more important to emotionally connect with a consumer in a flick of a second, or literally in the scroll of a social media post.

Classic benefit oriented or problem solver based product claims are best for an overall marketing strategy. Things like Maybelline's “Super Stay 10 hour Stain Gloss” and “Super Stay 14 hour Lipstick” are laced with benefits that resonate with women. Similarly claims like “Get visibly thicker and stronger hair with Dove Men+Care Thick & Strong Fortifying 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner” target the shopper looking for a specific product. The key difference is that social media is about emotional engagement. Sales based and benefit oriented claims are less likely to resonate with social media audiences, who look more for direct calls to action, an enticing prompt to click on and a story that engages them. Over time, this even fortifies their loyalty. Here are three ways to make social media messages and communications stand out, while staying true to the product claims and keeping the brand story in tact.

Make it catchy – and clickable

When trying to relay a core benefit, like the voluminous qualities of mascara or the long lasting wear of a lipstick, humor may not always work. However, when adapted to social media, anything that induces a catch or prompts a click through a relentless scroll of a mobile phone or tablet is key. Benefit Cosmetics, with its 6 million Instagram followers and 5.8M Facebook followers, is a pro at this. With taglines like “Laughter is the best cosmetic” that matches its vibrant, youthful energy, Benefit Cosmetics succeeds in creating engagement without even mentioning a product. They balance these with call-to-action statements like “Tonight’s forecast: 99% chance of me buying more makeup online”. Unlike claims, which would encompass relying on benefits, these social media adapted statements induce engagement and purchase by harping on the emotional element. Case in point: “Do you ever rub your eyes and remember you are wearing makeup and suddenly your whole life comes crashing down?” With over 86k likes, engagement and resonance is evident.

Tie things to one or two trending words

Similar to claims that need to be short and communicate benefits concisely, having the social media message focus on one or two key words (often conjoined as hashtags) is ideal. Lush Cosmetics, with a whopping 3.6M following on Instagram, has promoted several of its face products with the hashtag #SelfiePreserving, which matches the needs of its social media savvy consumers. This is easily supplemented by amplifying product benefits by saying “These two are “Mint” to be” for a couples mask of Magna-minty Face Mask, or more directly by a statement like: “No filter, no filler. Our self-preserving face masks are expertly formulated with no synthetic preservatives required, so that your skin (and your selfies) always look their best.” The brand thus connects with the social behavior of their core consumers in a compelling way.

Urban Decay communicates in a manner that amplifies its edgy positioning to its 7.9M Instagram and 3.5M Facebook fans. With statements like “Sunday. Clothing Optional. #TheNakedEffect”, the benefits of their eye shadows are not directly relayed, but the brand aspiration is. Urban Decay’s emotional content resonates with followers, who in turn engage and purchase the brand story, in addition to the product. Case in point, statements like: “You don’t need to explain yourself to someone who doesn’t know the difference between Naked, Brat and Trivial”, as part of the #LipstickIsMyVice hashtag which has over 30k posts on Instagram alone.

Back to simply marketing and naming, new brands could also go along the lines of NARS cosmetics, whose handle on Instagram and Snapchat is @narcissist. With catchy images and an ownership on the hashtag #NARSissist too, it epitomizes what women would look for in beauty.

Give a social context

Some brands embrace the claim or the humor in their product names, which makes it easier to provide a fictional or real social context. Several brands embraced real social contexts like International Women’s Day with powerful messages and brand’s values. However, an easy way to resonate with consumers is by simple messaging around things like New York’s frequent snow days. Fresh Beauty does this quite well, by showcasing how to spend snow day playing with #SugarLips lip balms. Taking on every real social occasion, including numerous national days, they infuse product marketing into every social media message. Case in point, “#NationalBubbleBathDay upgraded with rose petals and bubbles”, with a product placement of their bubble bath product. While these may not inform about the product benefits as directly as claims, they do place a context in mind that can boost engagement and eventually lead to purchase.

Fictional contexts are those that evoke a mood, or resonate with a particular emotion. Lush Cosmetics has their Prince Charming Shower Cream, and its social media posts read like: “fresh pomegranate juice, sweet vanilla pod infusion and fair trade organic cocoa butter leave your kin feeling soft and smelling sweet. Ready to meet your prince charming?” Perfectly placed for Valentines or any day really, the forte here is in leveraging the claim and the product benefits in a social context. Readers thus feel they are part of the brand’s story, and are inhaling the marketing talk more passively.

Overall, while it is important to have a solid overarching marketing strategy that touches on all points of traditional marketing, brands can loosen up and connect more emotionally with their messaging on social media. Given that consumers are rarely disconnected from their phones and tablets, these are a beauty brand’s best opportunity to engage them.

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