How skincare brands are creating a buzz on social media

nds aHow skincare brands have made strides in their social-media strategies, and what works when it comes to content and influencers in the category

In line with renewed growth of the category, skincare brands have ramped up their efforts on social media. Brands seem to have got over the initial roadblock of skincare being less visual than make-up and so less easy to communicate on across social channels. Skincare brands have also taken inspiration from successful strategies for make-up and worked to engage influencers and consumers around educational content about ingredients, products and brand values.

Analysis by research company Gartner L2 reveals that as the category has grown in terms of sales, skincare brands increased interactions on Instagram by 111% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2018, compared with +25% for fragrance and -6% for make-up. Gartner senior specialist Caroline Growney adds that brands have more than doubled the amount of content on Instagram Stories. “As interest in skincare has grown at large, skincare brands have found ways to generate engagement on social, largely by tailoring content around broad category education or specific problems and concerns,” comments Growney. She says content that is oriented around results and efficacy, or which includes skincare as part of a broader beauty routine, tends to attract higher engagement on branded handles.

“[Skincare brands] are not only adapting their product offer, but they are adapting how they communicate, taking a minimalistic and ‘clean’ design approach, while educating their consumers on the active ingredients that make their products stand out,” comments digital solutions provider Launchmetrics chief marketing officer Alison Bringé.

Video and Insta-skin
While Instagram with its Feed, Stories and IGTV features remains perhaps the pre-eminent social-media platform for curated brand and image content, YouTube continues to be the go-to platform for long format influencer how-to and DIY content.

Bringé notes that video content showing skincare and beauty routines continues to rank high on YouTube and Instagram. Growney adds: “Interestingly, Reddit emerged as a key social destination in skincare, given the difficulty in visualizing products and research orientation of the category”.

Although it may seem something of a cliché to talk about ‘savvy consumers’, in skincare, their improved knowledge of ingredients, products and routines have provided brands with a solid base on which to communicate and grow interaction. This has translated into long-format and detailed content in which influencers and their fans enthusiastically discuss and trade tips about products and regimens. Such influencer content has been key to the growing social-media success of skincare brands. Tribe Dynamics svp revenue Brit McCorquodale says the level of influencer content being created around skincare has grown double-digits in the past two years. She puts this down to both increased interest in the category generally and the growing experience of influencers.

“Influencers themselves are more sophisticated in the way they can shape and share stories with their audiences so their ability to tell stories about products that need to be more educational, informative and less visually inherent, has become something that they are significantly better at,” comments McCorquodale. “And, more importantly, consumers are really interested in that kind
of content.”

US-based skincare brand Paula’s Choice ceo Tara Poseley says its Instagram audience doubled last year because it delivered authentic, no-frills content. “[In 2018], we increased and diversified the amount of content, added support for new product launches and internalized insights from our community through comments and direct messages to inform and improve our products and communications,” Poseley explains. “What resonates most with our audience is when we showcase user-generated content from our customers, followed by ingredient information and anything highlighting the science behind the development of our products.”

Kiehl’s, which is seen as a consistently high social-media performer, says it takes a local approach to social media with more than 140 channels in over 50 markets. “Our strategy is simple, it’s all about our skin expert content and connecting with our consumers,” comments Kiehl’s vice president global communications and social media Jo Martin. “Our customer relationships are critical
to Kiehl’s, and social media has brought us even closer to hearing the voices of our customers.”

Rise of the skinfluencer
McCorquodale says that in addition to make-up influencers incorporating more skincare into daily beauty routines, there has also been a rise in skincare-specific content. The popularity of ‘skinfluencers’ like Gothamista is notable because content is information and detail-heavy—product reviews are often delivered over the course of several weeks to months, allowing her
to speak with authority on long-term product results.

“It really keeps her audience engaged on the way it is actually working, the efficacy of the product and that’s a new kind of content; you don’t see that kind of content for a color cosmetics product,” comments McCorquodale.

Martin comments that engaging with local ‘skinfluencers’ across all markets is about building relationships with those who are passionate about the brand and who will share real stories about their experiences with the products. 

“This is one of the most valuable things to us as a brand on social, as we see people want to learn about the brand through other people, whether it’s ‘skinfluencers’, friends, the people they follow on Instagram or WeChat, or even our own KCRs (Kiehl’s Customer Representatives),” comments Martin. “Having this kind of relationship with select ‘skinfluencers’ helps keep Kiehl’s authentic and further builds our credibility.”

Efforts to grow large influencer communities connected to the brand have benefited from increased interaction for skincare. In addition to courting influencers through the creation of influencer marketing teams, many prestige skincare brands like Tatcha or La Mer have begun inviting selected influencers on elaborate trips to demonstrate where and how key product ingredients are sourced, and to create an intimate setting in which to communicate the brand’s values. Others are involving the brand’s founder in such trips, providing influencers with personalized skincare evaluations and tailor-made routines.

For smaller brands with more limited budgets, there are other ways of achieving the same end. Poseley notes that the brand has offered its audience “up close and personal access to our internal teams of product developers and skincare experts, and of course, Paula. We share the truth about skin and skincare even if it’s unpopular because our number-one goal is to arm [the consumer] with ingredient knowledge and information for her skincare journey. We pull back the curtain and share what goes on behind the scenes at Paula’s Choice to foster our bond with our customers and followers alike.”

Cross category & good causes
Engaging with influencers cross-category is also helping skincare brands to communicate brand values to both influencers and their communities. Gartner’s Growney comments: “[Glamglow] has been nimble in partnering with other color cosmetics brands in the ELC portfolio to piggy-back on the strength of the color category on social”.

As consumers continue to associate skincare with health and wellness, linking products and brands to lifestyle choices and philanthropic endeavors also works well to engage consumers.

Bringé comments that as consumers seek more meaningful relationships with companies, brands have an opportunity to connect with them through social initiatives such as eco-friendly content that promotes natural ingredients, for example.

“Brands see this as an opportunity to use these platforms as a way to build an online community, where not only does the brand interact with consumers but consumers interact with each other,” she comments. A more rounded approach to social media is likely to bring results.

Expert viewpoint: Social skills
Two experts tell BW Confidential how skincare brands can better do social media
“A successful way to go beyond product and build a community is to work with [outside] brand partners on events and use occasions to create cross-promotional content. Associating skincare brands with a yoga class, for example, completes the holistic, self-care approach and links the brand with activities its community enjoys. Brand partners provide great opportunities for capturing new audiences while constructing a lifestyle concept that will not only increase engagement but will grow a sense of authenticity, which is key to long-term growth.

One thing we see brands doing that should be avoided is going overboard on the product placements through their owned media channels as well as through influencer collaborations. While leveraging influencers is key to growing awareness and building consumer relationships, it is important to create a genuine dialogue that goes beyond posing with the product in an inauthentic way.”
Launchmetrics chief marketing officer Alison Bringé

“For skincare, video content is important because of the educational, informational nature of the product. The more you can tell the story, the easier it is for consumers to engage and we see that in our data with influencer content for skincare specifically. Video content tends to over-index in terms of consumer engagement.

I would also say take a page from what has fuelled success across your other lines. Most of the big make-up brands have incredibly robust influencer marketing programs; applying that to your skincare products in a way that brings in and builds an influencer community around those products and influencers is a great way to expand the reach and increase their ability to scale more quickly without a lot of media investment.”
Tribe Dynamics svp revenue Brit McCorquodale

SNAPSHOT—Case studies: Social skincare

La Mer: Bonding with influencers
La Mer (ELC) invited a select group of influencers to British Columbia to visit a kelp farm from which the brand sources ingredients for its Miracle Broth. Research by Tribe Dynamics reveals influencers were effusive in thanking the brand and sharing insights in content under the tag #LoveLaMer about the benefits of Miracle Broth, which is a component of several of the brand’s star products. ELC said creative digital content and authentic storytelling helped build greater awareness of La Mer and led to share gains in every region and channel. “The primary advantage of heritage retreats is their ability to foster connections between influencers of the brand, as ambassadors and their followers gain a stronger understanding of what the brand represents. For skincare brands, heritage retreats that focus on ingredients provide the opportunity for influencers to gain a deeper understanding of a skincare product’s efficacy and sourcing,” comments Tribe Dynamics head of marketing Leah Adams.

Kiehl’s: Charity connections
Kiehl’s inspired compelling content with its #LifeRide8 charity initiative. The brand released a limited-edition LifeRide version of its Ultimate Strength Hand Salve, the proceeds of which benefited HIV/AIDS research non-profit organization amfAR.

Ambassadors including Karen Gonzalez (@iluvsarahii) Instagrammed photos featuring the LifeRide salve, tagging their posts with #TheCureIsInOurHands, which generated $1.1m in earned media value in the third quarter of 2017. Other influencers, like beauty blogger Nicol Concilio (@nicolconcilio), helped promote the campaign by encouraging followers to post photos forming hearts with their hands. For every heart photo tagged with #LifeRide8, Kiehl’s pledged to donate $1 to amfAR. #LifeRide8 powered $2.3m in earned media value, surpassing #kiehls ($1.7m) as the brand’s highest earned media value-driving hashtag in the third quarter of 2017.