Top Social Media Tips for the Beauty Industry from One of the UK’s Leading Practitioners

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Katy Howell is CEO of leading social media agency Immediate Future {“the grandmothers of social media for 9 years”}.

Working extensively with blue chip companies such as Mirror Group, Selfridges, Sara Lee and a multitude of fashion brands, there’s little she doesn't know about the ins and outs of social media.

Exclusively for the IMA blog, Katy has analysed how well beauty brands perform against the fashion sector.

What were your main findings about beauty brands and social media?

KH: There is an incredible amount of news on beauty generating a huge volume of conversation. Any brands looking at this will think it’s impossible to make any kind of impact or change.

The most common mistake is that beauty brands do a huge amount of broadcasting eg lots of promotions, shouting that they have this and that. It’s hard to see any community or collaborative feel.

Boots No 7 is doing it well, but they are the exception. It’s hard to see who the superstars are.

My advice to beauty brands would be:

1. Start with few platforms: don’t be everywhere and do it badly. Focus on a few and develop a strong identity.

2. Think of your identity in social media in the same way as going into store. Be consistent.

3. Integration is really important: I often see beauty brands with no joining up between their social and digital estates.

How can beauty companies choose the right platforms for their brands?

KH: They need to do a listening exercise to understand where people are talking about their brand or similar ones. There are myriad tools out there to grab that data.

1. Find out where they are talking. E.g. older women are active on FaceBook, but maybe only once a week; younger women use Twitter and Tumblr

2. What are they talking about? E.g. the topic: skin sensitivity, suitability for time of day

3. How are they talking about it? E.g. is it their opinion or are they asking questions

Once they understand this, it begins to inform them on how to move forward. It’s really important to know that they need to treat each audience differently. Many brands, including Chanel, don’t.

What can we learn from brands in other sectors?

KH: Fashion is one step ahead of beauty. They see themselves as a community. ASOS is a good example of this.The markets have moved on hugely in the last 18 months. Fashion bloggers are more sophisticated and brands work closely with them and involve them in the brand. It’s about getting the product closer to the customer which adds more value.

Simply B are a great example with their Blogger Takeover collaboration: http://bit.ly/18TN545

The company worked with the bloggers to design their own outfits which went on sale on the site.Beauty brands need to do something similar and get bloggers involved right at the packaging level. Consumers are so much more receptive to products endorsed by bloggers who have tried them first.

We asked you to take a look at Boots No 7 and Chanel. How did they perform?

KH: I was struck by No 7 who have superb engagement and are provoking an emotional reaction with people. When you look at the prestige end, the brands are far less accessible and do not have the same level of engagement.

On Twitter, Chanel has 2.5m followers; Boots No7 has 232,000 followers.

Chanel excels on visuals: 49.7% of tweets include a picture.Boots No 7 has virtually no pictures, but has links to the website.

Chanel only replies to 2.7% of customer queriesBoots replies to 50% of customer queries.

Chanel retweets 5% of its tweets.Boots retweets 11% of its tweets.This tells us that Boots may not have the visuals, but that they make consumers feel part of the brand.

Chanel does little to encourage conversation. The impression one gets is that they don’t want consumers to talk to them.

My view is Chanel’s thinking is old fashioned. I’m not sure how well the aspirational approach works with younger consumers and I would worry about how they intend to grow this demographic.

Boots No 7 may be getting a lot right, but they are a little over promotional and a bit messy. Sometimes it’s difficult to follow whether a FaceBook promotion is for a lipstick or a foundation. The brand needs to stand for something every two months and needs to include more visual.