Why Beauty Brands Should Overcome their Fear of Social Media


Mention the words 'social media' to people working in beauty and it's not unusual to be met with exclamations of : "Yes, were doing a bit of that," or "We know we should be doing more, but we're not sure what to do."

It's not that the industry doesn't understand the importance of social platforms. It's not like we've only just discovered the joys of following friends on Facebook or venting our frustrations on Twitter!

The challenge is it feels so very different from the traditional marketing practices that most of us are used to.

And because it's different, and maybe a little bit scary, many beauty brands have been slow to embrace it. Which means that they're not seeing the real difference it can make to their businesses.

It’s a conversation I’ve been having recently with digital brand experts. So I thought I’d share some views on why it's so important for beauty brands and what can be done to make its adoption less daunting.

Social Vs Traditional Marketing

YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat are the newest go-to social channels and they are enabling beauty brands to express their personality in ways that press and TV cannot hope to match.

These new digital tools offer the ability to reach out to prospective customers and track their buying behaviour in real-time.

They are the kind of benefits that can make a real difference to every beauty business. These are things that the industry has always wanted but could only have dreamed of in the past.Best of all, they are freely available. And I do mean free.

Why Many Beauty Brands Shy Away from Social Media

Yanar Alkayat, founder, Trapeze Digital, works with beauty brands to develop their social media and digital strategy. She says, “Beauty brands find that social media is unfamiliar territory and that leads to a fear of the unknown.”

According to Yanar, brands are being held back by a lack of understanding of how the social platforms work - by the new approach to interacting and communicating and the uncertainty of what to publish.I suspect that a resistance to the new and unfamiliar goes even further. With so many platforms available, it's easy to become overwhelmed. How do you know where to spend your time and effort? For every new social media platform that launches with great fanfare, another fails. Remember Vine?

And there’s more.

Niche brands with small marketing teams I have spoken to are worried that posting on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram will be too time-consuming and take them away from the real business of selling product.

They’d prefer to spend their limited budgets on product formulations and packaging in the hope that consumers will fall in love with whatever USP they believe their products possess.

Behind all of this is a more compelling reason - the fear of getting it wrong. When you put yourself out there, there’s always a risk that people won’t like what you’re saying. It’s easier not to do it.

Yanar believes that this is a perceived fear and the potential risks are not something she's experienced in her work. She sees it as a place for experimentation, where you can test ideas and elicit feedback from which to learn and progress.

Certainly, there have been high profile gaffs on social media but these are usually a product of a company that hasn't looked before they've leapt.

First and foremost, this means working out a brand’s objectives from using social. Is it engagement, traffic, conversion or data capture?

“If a brand is clear about their objectives and these are not being met, then content strategy and spend needs to be revised and reconsidered,” advises Yanar.

How to Do Social Well

Among the big brands, Yanar recommends following @SmashboxUK and @Illamasqua for product communication, influencer collaborations and commitment to fan engagement.

“MAC Cosmetics on Instagram produce high quality posts in a consistent style. On Snapchat, I love watching Jen Atkin @jenatkinhair. She’s the Kardashian’s hair stylist and posts almost every move of her day in a fun, funny and engaging way,” says Yanar.However, it doesn’t follow that bigger brands are better at social media because they can throw more resource at it. According to Yanar, smaller brands who have built audiences with great content include Weleda UK, Liz Earle and Decleor UK.Yanar’s Plan on How to Make a Success of Social MediaEach social media platform serves a purpose, but Instagram is the most effective for beauty because it’s so visual.

Depending on the age of the consumer, use Twitter to maintain brand exposure and Facebook for targeting a specific audience, specifically the older market.

For new brands with limited budgets, using social media to build an online presence is a far more cost effective form of promotion than traditional advertising in print or on TV.

Here’s how:

  • Firstly watch and learn what others do on social - watch competitors, bigger brands and brands in neighbouring industries to build a picture of inspiration, best practices and areas of opportunity.

  • Think about your brand messages, then what content you are going to publish to communicate these messages.

  • Some content should be created in-house, other content will be curated from around the web.

  • Think about how to grow your audience too - will it be brand collaborations, promotions or engaging content on your site?

  • A content calendar or a stock of content for the month and more ahead is a must.

  • If a brand is still unsure, hire help for consultancy time to clear any confusion and help create a defined and strategic path of activity.

All too often, brands treat the creation of social media content as a bit of fun. Of course it can be but there should be a business objective.

Bear in mind that social media can be a phenomenal driver of traffic driver back to your site and can be used to support data acquisition goals.www.trapezedigital.com@trapezedigital@yanarbeauty.

The Omnichannel Report offers a more detailed look at other rising social media stars, including Charlotte Tilbury and Kiko Milano. These brands have used social media to develop a distinct brand personality that resonates with their target audience.