With creative and visual content, beauty brands are known as frontrunners on social media, building some of the most loyal communities out there. Taking a deep dive into the beauty realm, Socialbakers (now part of Emplifi) hosted a candid discussion with Benefit Cosmetics – a brand with an incredibly active social media fan base worldwide.
During the panel, Emily Dybwad, Director of Digital Marketing and Rachel Bouvier, Senior Digital Analyst, Global Digital broke down critical trends and questions in the social space right now:
How can brands scale a global content strategy that lands well in local markets?
How should brands use data to make decisions to stay relevant today?
What does it mean to have an audience-first approach to content?
Taking Benefit's expertise and practical tips to heart, brands can chart a clear course forward to grow their communities.
As with all great experiences, trust the locals
At Benefit Cosmetics, social media is run in a way that best supports the overall marketing strategy. For them, this means taking a decentralized approach, leveraging both global and local teams to deliver audience-specific, market-specific content experiences.
"Laughter is the best cosmetic" is a key brand value, but humor can be tough – and risky – without a clear understanding of audiences. Humor is a key part of what Benefit is trying to bring forward, and humor is tricky. The challenge is using humor that really connects with someone in each market.
Benefit Cosmetics believes in the power of localized content on accounts like @benefitspain Dybwad said, "I think there's lots of missed opportunities if you don't empower people to develop their own local content. We strongly believe that audiences want to connect with someone in their local language, someone who understands differences and nuance."
So, how do they pull it off? Benefit's content strategy is three-fold, covering all bases and objectives:
Global content to deliver a cohesive brand image
Local content to ensure deeply relevant and authentic messaging
Influencer content to bring in new fans to the Benefit community
Benefit Cosmetics classifies content into three buckets: Global, Local, and Influencer Content Managing. This type of content strategy takes disciplined, streamlined analysis.
With a macro-level view, Benefit can determine their success factors, such as brand awareness and relationship building. From there, they decide how to measure them, then work closely with in-market teams who really understand the nuance of what's happening to execute the vision.
"We use Emplifi Social Marketing Cloud to inform our three different buckets of content: global, local, and influencer. We're able to look at what the engagement is across these buckets, including the different comments they're getting. This allows us to recognize local successes and adopt best practices." - Rachel Bouvier, Senior Digital Analyst, Global Digital, Benefit Cosmetics
Follow the data, and don't be afraid to experiment
Being data-driven allows Benefit's teams to work smarter and faster to deliver great content, but also empowers them to try new approaches. Using Emplifi, they get a 360-degree view of their content channels and how different markets are doing things, and doing them well.
"What's super invaluable from Emplifi is the holistic view we have of our different campaign launches; it empowers us to make data-informed business decisions," said Bouvier.
Using Emplifi, the global team is able to take a step back and look at all of the information that's coming in across markets to see if there's a pattern or direction they should pay attention to.
With data on their side, they're also more open to testing new trends to achieve different outcomes. "We're in such a lucky position in that we have these fantastic marketers in all these offices globally who are really open to experimenting on new platforms and seeing what will resonate with different users," said Bouvier. They encourage other brands to do the same; it helps the industry evolve and iterate.
Champion the perfect blend of authenticity and innovation
For Benefit Cosmetics, what helps drive results are choosing the right channel, and even content placement, depending on the message and objective. They evaluate content across all placements, and define what one placement means compared to another. Their strategy includes a calculated mix of influencer, organic, and paid content.
With authenticity front and center on social media, it's important to stay close and grow along with audiences. Benefit's own influencer relations team keeps a finger on the pulse of influencer marketing, constantly thinking about that strategy.
Influencer marketing is a major part of Benefit Cosmetics' social media content strategy "People definitely resonate with real people. Right now, we recognize that things are changing, and we're adapting to the situation. But I would still say that partnering with people that are part of the beauty community, who have deep relationships with a brand, that's always going to be there," said Dybwad. For many brands who work with influencers, the nature of partnerships and objectives may shift, but the core promise of influencer marketing shouldn't.
In terms of their organic/paid content split, Benefit's current approach is to carefully put budget behind posts that will communicate very specific information. For example, they may use paid content to promote a new product launch or a consumer-based opportunity, like a sale. Meanwhile, they use organic content to penetrate and deepen their connection with the broader beauty community that exists, especially on Instagram today.
Options for content types and placements also give brands the opportunity to lean into platform innovations. As Instagram, Facebook, and even TikTok offer users different social experiences, the platforms may get more specific about developing their own groups and communities, continuing to evolve as consumption evolves.
"I think that with the advent of people being very distant from each other physically, it has meant that the virtual world and the social platforms are really allowed to reclaim space," said Dybwad.
"You may start to see that the social platforms will start to iterate and differentiate themselves more. Since Live video has taken off, I think we'll see Instagram invest there. Whereas features for the content newsfeed or stories may decrease a little bit."
Looking into the data, Benefit Cosmetics sees growth ahead. As people crave human connection, they are spending more time interacting on social. As a result, Benefit Cosmetics is seeing a positive trend for global impressions and reach on their content.
For brands looking to scale their content strategies and grow deeper relationships, it's important to ask honest, and maybe difficult, questions about their current strategy.
Is your content relevant enough for your diverse audiences?
Are you able to adjust and react to current data insights, like engagement and sentiment?
How easily are you able to adopt new trends, technologies, and content formats?
With the content machine more demanding than ever, brands who are more digitally transformed, and even brands who strive to be as open and responsive as they can, will see greater success in the long run.