The new ‘rules’ for social media marketing in beauty

By Kirsty Doolan

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

Related tags Social media social beauty Cosmetics digital Marketing

Jo Hughston, Head of Marketing at social-first marketing agency The Goat Agency, shared her advice for beauty brands that are navigating the ever-changing social media landscape in late 2023.

Generation Z has grown up with social media as a part of their everyday lives and this makes them a ‘tough crowd’ when it comes to attempting to sell them beauty products via social media.

“They probably know the platform better than most Marketing Directors and they WILL call you out for getting it wrong,”​ said Jo Hughston, Head of Marketing at London-based social media marketing agency Goat, which has worked with big beauty brands such as NIVEA.

“The feedback loop has become even more instant, and intimidating, on TikTok. This can be scary, but it’s also a fantastic opportunity, as never before have brands been able to instantly gather so much customer feedback and sentiment.”

Another issue that many beauty and personal care brands face right now is that there are just so many platforms to choose from. It’s hard to know where your ideal customer is digitally socialising and limited time and budget can make it impossible to be present in every possible space.

And finally, the current mortal enemy of global marketeers is the 'deinfluencing' trend, which has over 400 million views on TikTok. This involves influencers sharing the 'overhyped' products they DON'T recommend buying.

Despite all these challenges, Hughston said it’s also becoming more crucial for beauty brands and marketing agencies to demonstrate the effectiveness of TikTok as a revenue channel.

“Brand marketers are having to look more holistically at TikTok and figure out ways of creating great, trend-led content with the potential to go viral, that also leads to demonstrable revenue” ​she explained.

So, to better understand what makes a strong social marketing strategy for beauty brands on TikTok, Hughston has spent time analysing the landscape and shared her top tips based on her research and expertise gained working on social strategy for top brands:

Spotlight your star product on TikTok

Hughston said most beauty brands have one or two stand-out products that are most beloved by their customers. “For Estée Lauder it’s Double Wear Foundation, for Augustinus Bader it’s Rich Cream, and for Glow Recipe, it’s Watermelon Glow Dew Drops,” ​she explained. 

“Sure, you want to get customers interested in your other products and new launches but use your stars as regular stop gaps to drive engagement. Don’t have a star product yet? Pick one and ‘fake it till you make it’,” ​she said.

Don’t shy away from what you are

According to Hughston, if you are a luxury brand, then you should lean into this and give every video a splash of luxury. Similarly, if you’re a legacy brand, you can take inspiration from brands like Estée Lauder and show how the company has evolved and has been loved by multiple generations of women. “Take your TikTok community on a journey,”​ she advised.  

Put creators and influencers at the forefront

Hughston noted that brands with strong social media strategies tend to work with a diverse range of influencers on TikTok. “They’ll not only have the influencers posting on their own channels but will also repurpose their content on the brand channel and through paid ads,” ​she shared. 

“It’s also a great idea to let trusted influencers 'take over' your TikTok channel for a period of time, allowing them the creative freedom to share their style of content.”

Know that you don’t have to be funny

Although TikTok is known to be based around humour, Hughston advises that unless humour is already part of your brand, don’t try to force it.

The likes of YSL Beauty are doing their own thing without constantly adopting trending funny sounds and challenges,” ​she said. “TikTok is now about so much more than just humour; beauty brands can have success through informative, impressive, beautiful or educational content.”

Align your TikTok channel with your brand vision

Finally, Hughston noted that often, we will see brands doing something completely different on TikTok compared to what the rest of the brand is doing elsewhere. “And while every marketing channel needs to be treated individually, they also need to make sense to the consumer,” ​she advises.

“Brands like Charlotte Tilbury, Estrid and Florence by Mills have done a great job of bringing their overarching brand personality, whether that’s glamor, fearlessness or self-love, to their TikTok marketing, but just doing it in a TikTok-specific way,” ​she concluded.

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