Let Her Do the Talking: A Case Study for Social Media

If you had asked 10 years ago where we thought the future of beauty brand marketing might be headed, I doubt too many of us would have answered, “to a website called Facebook,” let alone any website at all. So much more than just a place we go to check e-mail or read the news, the Internet—and especially social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and FourSquare—have become one of the most important ways to connect directly with consumers, and they have undeniably altered the marketing landscape for everyone.

These days, consumers turn to the Web first for just about everything. Need to know where your closest Sephora is located? Google it. Looking for the name of the lipstick Taylor Swift is wearing in her latest Cover Girl ad? Head to the Cover Girl website. Want to tell your favorite movie star how much you love her new hairstyle? Visit her Facebook page. The Internet has not only allowed us to connect with consumers and consumers to connect with us, but for consumers to connect with all aspects of our brands in an extremely intimate and immediate way. And just like any relationship, time, attention and excitement must be funneled into the care and growth of this part of your business if you want to stay relevant.

As a member of the team who helped bring the beauty entertainment brand Jabot Cosmetics to life (from its origins as a faux cosmetic company featuring prominently on the CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless), The Beauty Company (TBC) played a key role in defining critical brand elements for this launch. It included work on brand positioning and visual identity; designing brand assets, logos and taglines; writing creative copy; and managing the photographic representations of the brand, as well as its spokesperson identification and management. We also took a pivotal marketing role, creating all marketing collateral and the website, and as we took on these challenges, we simultaneously worked with real women to gather feedback on ideas and follow their lead on the creation of the brand. Social media is all about interaction with consumers, and with Jabot, we pushed the boundaries of this interaction. Here’s how we did it.

Build the Base

To kick-start our social media efforts and get the word out on the street about Jabot, TBC built a database of more 1,000 beauty consumers, taken from our own Pink Panel, and invited these women to learn about, use and experience Jabot through our Brand Ambassador Program, a program that allows consumers to try new products even before they hit the shelves. They were then asked to offer feedback and dialogue about Jabot’s products and brand in a constructive, exciting and innovative way with other consumers.

Before even a single product went on sale, we had an established database that provided a foundation for all future social media marketing efforts.

Before Jabot was set to debut, we began building excitement and consumer buzz with a microsite—a fake front website solely designed to build buzz about the brand with videos and video tutorials, brand and spokesperson photography, and multiple highly visible “Sign up now” buttons to encourage consumers and fans to opt in to receive Jabot updates. By reaching out to consumers in this way before launch, we built a base of consumers already interested in our brand to help drive interest and excitement when the launch happened.

Concurrently with creating the microsite, we also began constructing a robust, fully integrated and active Facebook page—and, to a lesser degree, Twitter and YouTube sites. Designed specifically to play up the brand photography, the Facebook page was very visual, featuring lots of before-and-after photos, as well as images of the spokesperson, the products, and candid photos of the team in action. We also created pages for user reviews, downloadable consumer product usage guides, and information on how to get the Jabot look. Once built, the TBC’s beauty ambassadors began to organically stoke the page by interacting with other fans, talking about the products, providing feedback on their results, and engaging and interacting with consumers to build excitement and demand for a brand that wasn’t even launched yet.

Build the Buzz

On June 19, Jabot made its official debut live on the red carpet at the 2011 Daytime Emmy Awards. To capitalize on this opportunity, we took a multipronged social media approach. Callout boxes and buttons encouraged consumers to watch the show on Jabot’s Facebook page and microsite, members of the beauty ambassador program tweeted about the show, and a social media agency hired full-time for this initiative provided streaming Facebook updates and drove continuous fan interaction. To complement the Facebook activity, we hosted a Twitter promotion that gave one fan a trip to the Daytime Emmy Awards, where she walked the red carpet and met our spokesperson, actress Tracey E. Bregman.

Next, launching on HSN with three 20-minute shows, we drove consumers to HSN.com via a huge media e-mail blast to our database, as well as with ongoing, integrated social media updates on the Facebook page (where, again, the brand ambassadors stepped in to interact with consumers and share their Jabot stories), and the websites, fan pages and social media outlets of the brand’s strategic partners.

Notably, we engaged the official The Young and the Restless Facebook fan page to post status updates about the launch, which generated massive fan migration to the Jabot-specific website and Facebook page and helped us capture more than 35,000 new e-mail addresses and 7,000 new fans in one night.

Once Jabot was in-market, we hosted multiple fan-based contests and initiatives, and maintained consistent interaction on all our fan pages in order to create the kind of fun and exciting online environment that consumers demand and keeps them coming back for more. Using the TBC Pink Panel database, we ran a gifting program via Facebook to help garner positive product reviews: any consumer who purchased Jabot was invited to visit the HSN or Jabot Facebook pages and write a product review, and those who did received a red velvet Jabot bag. We also created an interactive User Guide, which allowed consumers to replicate makeup looks seen on Jabot’s before-and-after models and drove consumers to HSN.com for purchase.

Perhaps most critically, we maintained consistent, thoughtful interaction with all the fans and consumers who visited the Facebook page and left comments, which allowed us to create a strong sense of community and react to any negative comments quickly and proactively.

Be the Star

The result: When all was said and done, this social media marketing paid off tenfold. Here are just a few highlights:

  • The day it launched, the Jabot microsite had more than 12,000 unique visitors.
  • The official Jabot website saw more than 11,000 unique visitors within two hours of launch.
  • The first three HSN Jabot premieres completely sold out.
  • It also sold out of all three launch SKUs within one hour on HSN.
  • Via these efforts, we were able to add more than 35,000 new names into the Jabot database during one weekend.
  • In just eight weeks, the Jabot Facebook page had nearly 600,000 post views.
  • After only two months in-market, six Jabot SKUs have near perfect five-star customer ratings on HSN.com, and six have been deemed as “customer picks,” which indicates the product as a top-rated favorite by HSN.com users.

By now, the importance of a solid social media strategy shouldn’t be a new concept to any of us, but the rapid advancements in how to approach this strategy, which seems to reinvent itself on a daily (if not moment-to-moment) basis may be. By creating a compelling and dynamic social media strategy that includes consumers from the very start—maybe even before any product is available for sale—your brand will have a keen edge over the competition that is both fun and strategic, and it keeps your brand on their mind—and perhaps more importantly, in their status updates.

Alisa Marie Beyer is the founder and creative director of The Beauty Company (TBC), a global beauty consulting firm offering business, strategy, consumer intelligence and branding. Serving its clients at every stage of development (from start-ups to 13 of the top 15 global beauty companies), TBC intimately understand the industry, the consumer and the market, and becomes an integral part of each client or project team. [email protected]; www.benchmarkingco.com

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