A wise Minnesotan once said: "the times, they are a-changin'." But not even Bob could have predicted just how much would change in such a short amount of time. A rapid transformation of the global retail landscape has left many brands to their own devices-literally, electronic devices-when it comes to running their businesses. As we move further toward a new era of ecommerce and digital screens become the only means of accessing an audience, it's clear that social media marketing isn't just an option anymore, it's a business critical operation.
We recently chatted with Meghan Kissinger, senior manager of social media at beautyblender (the powerhouse beauty brand with over 3 million followers on Instagram) to learn more about why and how brands should harness the magic of social media.
What marketers need to understand is that not all social channels are the same. Each one has a unique platform, demographics, and monetization opportunities that may or may not work for your brand. Before going all the way with (or writing off) a channel-or social media altogether-it's important to really assess your goals and dig deep into functionality, budget, and timing.
DH: How did beautyblender get started on social media?
MK: Beautyblender was the first reusable makeup sponge on the market and there was so much organic love for the brand right around the time social really started to pick up. We embraced influencers before they were even called influencers, and they were just guys and gals creating makeup tutorials on YouTube and Instagram. Creating these relationships early on and gaining this organic brand awareness really set us up for success, and since then social has been a major piece of the brand's identity.
DH: What channels are you currently using?
MK: As a digital-first brand, we believe it's important to have a presence on all of the major platforms. With that said, we always prioritize 2-3 platforms that we dedicate a certain percent of our budget and activations around. Right now, our biggest focuses are Instagram, Tik Tok, and YouTube. Instagram has been our primary focus, since day one-it's the space where our storytelling comes to life and where we engage with our community. We recognize Tik Tok and YouTube primarily as creator platforms, so while we're constantly creating new owned content, our strategy on these channels is focused more on creator partnerships.
Highly active brands might amass thousands to millions of followers, but does growing an engaged audience on social really make an impact on business results? The short answer is: absolutely yes. Not only is social media an exceptional platform for generating brand awareness, it's an affordable, organic way to connect with consumers, test out new creative, and drive traffic to your website or online store. For beautyblender, it's all about highlighting their product and honing that niche in the market.
DH: What's your favorite aspect of social media?
MK: That is such a difficult question because I could truly geek out on social media all day, everyday. But the aspect that has always excited me the most is the instant connection and gratification we're able to see when content resonates with our audience-and it's happening 24/7. The ability to instantly know and hear what our audience is thinking and feeling can be tough at times, but it's also very valuable. We're highly motivated by this and never stop thinking about what we can do better and how we can engage with our audience more.
DH: What's been the biggest business benefit to using social media?
MK: Early on, social really helped cultivate our audience and brand partners. As we've grown, that piece still remains important. But the biggest benefit of social for beautyblender is using it to bring our products to life. We can shoot something big-budget or on an iPhone, and we're always going to be able to show our customer what the product will do for them.
There's no singular formula for social media marketing. The amount of time and money brands are investing in social varies-but, leveraging certain social marketing tools and trends can mean the difference between lackluster performance and going completely viral. Like any other business operation, data is a crucial component for developing a concrete strategy.
DH: How has Dash Hudson impacted your social media use?
MK: Dash Hudson has made creating an effective social strategy very accessible for brands. To me, it's where creativity meets data, and if those aren't the two most important pieces of social media success, then I don't know what is! Because we're working in such an evolving space, it can be pretty difficult to always know what's best for your brand-what was working one day may not work the next, so having quantitative data and access to the visual prediction tools that Dash Hudson offers has been a true game changer for us.
The fluid nature of social media makes it the perfect launchpad for storytelling, announcements, and new initiatives. It's likely you're moving operations online right now-at least for the foreseeable future-so this is a great time to ramp up your digital presence and foster a community that can grow and evolve with your brand. Because so many social features are free, you can try them out with minimal risk and potentially big reward. Yes, selling is important, but being there for your followers in their time of need creates trust and loyalty-and that's priceless.
DH: You've added some really cool initiatives to your Instagram mix, like virtual shade-matching and lots of IG Live content-are you seeing positive results from ramping up your efforts on social?
MK: Like I mentioned earlier, we really value the conversations we create and have with our audience. Given the current situation, we felt a sense of responsibility to keep our social light-hearted, joyful, and use it as a tool to bring people together as best as we possibly could-that's where so many of these initiatives came from. We saw this as an opportunity to check in and really be with our community, giving them something to do or feel excited about during this uncomfortable time of isolation. We're testing a variety of content and letting our followers tell us what they like to see, what they don't like to see, and what they want to see more of. Some of these activities include virtual master classes with celebrity MUAs and influencers, meditation sessions, nutrition Q&As, and more.
DH: Do you think this kind of live/interactive content is here to stay?
MK: To be honest, IG Live is something we never really tapped into. We immediately recognized it's impact during this time when so many people are feeling alone, and hit the ground running to build out a robust strategy. It's been a very fun test and we've learned a lot. While we plan to keep consistent programming throughout this period, it takes a lot of work. Once we return to somewhat normalcy, we plan to keep Live as a part of our strategy, but will focus on 1-2 major programs a week. During this time we've also taken a completely different approach to our copy and even our content. We've added in a "behind the scenes" touch to lift the curtain and show consumers the human element behind our brand. This has felt very timely because we're all just humans trying to get through this. But it's definitely something I'd like to continue after this is all said and done.
In light of shifting norms, beautyblender is pivoting its strategy to support and engage its community in new ways. By testing out different functionalities and themes, the brand is using this time to get a pulse on what type of content its audience cares about most-a feat made possible thanks to their presence on social channels like Instagram and TikTok.